CloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?

CloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?

As a specialist DevOps consultancy, ECS Digital often finds itself at the forefront of new and emerging technologies. We work with clients that aim to solve ever more complex problems and have established a history of working with industry-leading software vendors in response to the tools required to tackle these problems head-on. This has enabled ECS Digital to become intrinsically linked to the ever-evolving nature of the business software world.

What we’ve come to realise is that there is a natural lifecycle to the software vendors we work with. Some will grow quickly, establishing themselves as leaders in their market, and will eventually go public in an IPO. Some will fail, falling away as victims of the marketplace. And some will be acquired by another software vendor to be included in a wider portfolio of products. This is a common trend, as we have seen with GitHub joining Microsoft and Red Hat becoming part of IBM, both in multi-billion-dollar deals.

And this trend continues, with CloudBees and their recent acquisition of Electric Cloud.

Electric Cloud is the second business to be acquired by CloudBees – Codeship, a continuous integration and continuous delivery firm, being the first in 2018. These deals pair nicely with two of the end-of-life cycles outlined earlier. They also affirm CloudBees’ overall strategy of acquiring smaller, specialist software companies as a way of bringing onboard expertise missing from their current offerings.

In the words of Andy Cureton, Managing Director and Founder of ECS Digital:

“Combining CloudBees and Electric Cloud gives the combined entity the capability breadth to compete against the AWS CI/CD stack and the Microsoft CI/CD stack prevalent on Azure. Combining the feature depth of multiple tools in a seamless capability that is platform agnostic also gives a powerful alternative to those with a brown field site, as well as addressing concerns around vendor lock in (particularly on Cloud)”.

Phil Drouet, Head of Channel at ECS Digital, agreed with Andy, adding that today’s software landscape enables users to “build their own pipeline and pick their own tools. Whilst it may seem that choosing one ‘continuous delivery powerhouse’ limits your choice, this is offset by integrated systems and better experience. At the end of the day, you don’t want every development team to have their own tools. I have no doubt that enterprises will see this as a good thing, a credible alternative to having to buy everything from different places”.

Is CloudBees the holy grail for CI/CD software?

Electric Cloud is a known brand in its own right, with Gartner positioning them as a leader in its Magic Quadrant for Application Release Orchestration just last year. By acquiring Electric Cloud, CloudBees have strategically strengthened their position in the CI and CD space, as well as allowing them to enter the end-to-end solution market. This will help protect them in a marketplace that is increasingly offering these solutions when migrating to the Cloud.

Not only are they home to the enterprise version of Jenkins, they now have a compelling brand story within the CI/CD and release automation arena. What’s more, these products can now be combined into a single suite, offering the holy grail of product portfolios, without the complexity. In the words of Sacha Labourey, the CEO and co-founder of CloudBees:

“As of today, we provide customers with best-of-breed CI/CD software from a single vendor, establishing CloudBees as a continuous delivery powerhouse. By combining the strength of CloudBees, Electric Cloud, Jenkins and Jenkins X, CloudBees offers the best CI/CD solution for any application, from classic to Kubernetes, on-premise to Cloud, self-managed to self-service.”

The joining of CloudBees and Electric Cloud will unquestionably result in a stronger product set, and thus a stronger brand for those looking for a CI, CD and release platform partner. Electric Cloud evidently feel the same, as being a previously well-funded vendor meant that this acquisition did not come about as a result of them struggling in the marketplace. Much the opposite; “it will strengthen the market for them as a unit and give CloudBees (and now Electric Cloud) another revenue stream” (Phil Drouet).

And it benefits users too, as noted by Christina Noren, Chief Product Officer, CloudBees:

“Having the Electric Cloud offerings under the CloudBees umbrella gives companies a greater ability to manage the delivery of value to customers.

Having CI and CD solutions under one banner may mean customers come to rely on CloudBees. But where monopolistic powerhouses have spelt doom for innovation in other markets, in this case, Andy Cureton sees this as “giving back control” to the customer. It’s a holistic offer that means customers lessen the risk presented by multiple vendors and unintegrated systems.

What this acquisition means for partners

Being the Service Delivery Partner of the year for CloudBees, and with a partnership stretching back many years, we will inevitably see a shift in what we will need to provide following the integration of Electric Cloud.

Part of this shift will involve witnessing new challenges emerge, especially during the ‘settling in’ period where the merging vendors decide upon strategies, personnel and technical directions. We’ll also be keeping an eye out for any innovative products born from this acquisition and look forward to introducing these offerings in future projects. Whilst nothing has been confirmed, we imagine CloudBees will begin to release more information regarding their new direction towards the end of the year, timing it nicely with their annual DevOps World | Jenkins World | CloudBees conference – this year taking place in sunny San Francisco and Lisbon, Portugal.

Despite the turbulence that may occur, working closely with partners in the DevOps software world, and having a legacy of trust and reliable support, we are best placed to deliver the same high-quality service support to software vendors at times of change. And thanks to our existing relationship with CloudBees, we are able to upskill our team at pace. We can get ready to hit the ground running as new tools and technology emerge as a result of this deal.

Not only has their recent acquisition piqued industry interest, CloudBees have reaffirmed themselves as a technology vendor to watch. Not only are they bulking up their market presence, they are also providing customers with an extensive offer in the CI/CD and Release Automation space. And since this new option will be simpler and more robust, more customers will no doubt be drawn to this valued convenience. After all, complexity is the killer of progress.

If you’re yet to reap the benefits of CloudBees and Electric Cloud for your business, talk to a member of the ECS Digital team today.

 

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Phil DrouetCloudBees & Electric Cloud: the holy grail for CI/CD software?
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Plotting a Container-Centric Future. Part One

Plotting a Container-Centric Future. Part One

Containers are unlocking new and innovative ways of developing and running software. With containerisation, the potential of hybrid cloud computing is finally becoming a reality. The evolution of containers is much akin to that of Virtual Machines (VMs) 15-years ago – eyed with suspicion in the early days but are now a de facto part of every IT infrastructure. Likewise, containers are becoming the default plan for organisations in all sectors and of all shapes and sizes.

Why? For those not yet familiar, containers are lightweight, portable, virtualised, software-defined environments. Their growing popularity is due to the fact they facilitate modularity, portability and simplicity when provisioning virtual infrastructure. They represent, in many ways, a step-change in how IT functions deliver applications; reduced boot times, improved resource utilisation and a lack of infrastructure dependencies facilitating swift deployment and iterative development and test cycles.

ECS Digital’s approach to containers is simple; it’s all about choice. Tooling agnostic – everything from cloud solutions to automation and edge – we’re led by the needs of our customers. Whilst there are many commercial container distributions available today, we choose to work with two main partners; Docker and Kubernetes (specifically, Rancher). Naturally, many organisations have a few requirements when selecting a platform to host their applications. By far the most common one is the desire to attain and retain agility by not being locked into a particular offering that prevents easy migration to other cloud platforms. In reality, this means selecting a platform based on Kubernetes, as this has been proven to be the standard by which other orchestrators are judged.

In this three-part series, we will take a look at the features of Rancher, highlight those that other container orchestration management tools don’t offer out of the box, and help you find the perfect deployment partner. Let’s start with Rancher’s pivotal features…

Rancher – Extra rBACtteries Included

Rancher is widely regarded as the #1 choice for running enterprise-scale containers and Kubernetes in production. It’s the only distro that can manage all Kubernetes clusters on all Clouds. It also accelerates the adoption of open source Kubernetes while complying with corporate security and availability standards.

100% Open Source

All Rancher products are 100% open source and free to use. Rancher deploys upstream, open-source Kubernetes, so the latest features in each Kubernetes release are always available for users. Rancher has also successfully shaped Kubernetes into an enterprise offering by putting security first and making it easy for businesses to control and interact with all of their clusters from a single interface.

No Vendor Lock-In

Rancher remains agnostic about which provider to use. It gives you, the user, the freedom to quickly deploy Kubernetes anywhere, with the configuration that you want. It also abstracts vendor differences so that users can interact with each cluster in the same way. Rancher makes it possible to run multiple clusters whilst enabling you to manage each cluster independently. And if you ever decide to stop using Rancher, you can quickly and cleanly uninstall the platform as if it was never there.

Multi-Cluster Management

Rancher was built to manage Kubernetes everywhere it runs. It can easily deploy new clusters from scratch, launch EKS, GKE and AKS clusters, or even import existing Kubernetes clusters. This month, Rancher went as far as to launch RIO, a MicroPaaS that can be layered on any standard Kubernetes cluster. And the best part? It’s free! Try it out for yourself today.

In short, Rancher is a complete container management platform, with a few added bells and whistles to make using the tool both practical and able to integrate with other applications. This ease of use makes Rancher an ideal partner for businesses scaling change initiatives using containerisation technology. And we should know. After a 14-month engagement with an industry-leading asset tracking client, ECS Digital has been instrumental in delivering and operating globally deployed container applications on Rancher that will revolutionise the industry.

In the next article, we’ll take a deeper look into Rancher, and how our customers are using it to innovate and grow.

About the Author:

Morgan Atkins is the container technology lead at ECS Digital and is one of the leading consultants for containerised applications in the UK. Not only is Morgan a certified Docker trainer and consultant, but he also takes great pride working alongside and upskilling customers in the adoption of container products such as Rancher, Docker and Kubernetes.

About ECS Digital

ECS Digital is a leading DevOps and Digital Transformation consultancy based in London, Singapore and Edinburgh. Being deeply embedded in the world of DevOps and the tooling that this movement is driving, ECS Digital is proud to partner with the leading software vendors in this space, including Rancher, Docker, CloudBees, Aqua, Sonatype, HashiCorp, New Relic and ServiceNow.

Want to adopt Rancher in your business? Talk to the team today about how you can get started.

Morgan AtkinsPlotting a Container-Centric Future. Part One
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ECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe

ECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe

This week saw thousands of IT professionals head to the Europe’s largest Cloud exhibition – including ECS Digital and our village of partners!

From blockchain and IoT vendors, to datacentre climate control systems manufacturers and cable suppliers, the crowds enticed anybody interested in Cloud-first, scaling up, refining, or just getting started with the tools and technology.

As has been echoed in previous events, Cloud Expo Europe is an unrivalled opportunity to meet with leading technology innovators and service providers, and network with your peers. Attendees also gain access to a wealth of knowledge and advice including emerging trends, tech deep dives, lessons learned and market forecasts.

ECS Digital once again have donned their conference apparel and deployed Europe’s only DevOps Partner Village, bringing together vendors from across the DevOps tool chain. This included Sonatype, New Relic and Storage OS – experts in application performance monitoring and artifact lifecycle management to dynamic container storage, all under one red, white and blue banner.

As you’ll probably know by now, ECS Digital is an agnostic DevOps and continuous delivery consultancy that provides professional and DevOps expertise to thousands of customers, and this year they have been showcasing the newest feather in their cap; Enablement Pods™.

Enablement PodsTM introduce a new way of working, processes and tooling. By remaining flexible in their resource profiling, our fixed priced outcome-based engagement model enables you to transform at scale by embedding – for short periods – in existing engineering teams to enable them to implement true change. What’s more, you decide the outcomes and objectives for each sprint, and we put our fees at risk to ensure we deliver.

It really is that simple.

During their talk on day one, Young DevOps Consultant of the Year 2018 Michel Lebeau and Pod Delivery Lead Tom Chapman described Enablement Pods™ as ECS Digital new weapon for making long-lasting and impactful changes in the Enterprise space. They also walked guests through how they are using Enablement Pods™, some of the challenge case studies and what Enablement Pods™ has achieved. If you missed the talk, you can learn more here.

ECS Digital also introduced a second, equally exciting initiative at Cloud Expo Europe. The DevOps Playground is supporting the tech community by giving enthusiasts a platform to explore new technology and tools. We’re also super chuffed that the Playground reached 4,000 members worldwide during the show – we’re giving credit to the talk our team delivered on day two!

I was fortunate enough to deliver the DevOps Playground story, describing how ECS Digital have used the DevOps Playground to build a tech community that encourages tech enthusiasts to not only learn about tools, but to gain hands-on experience under the supervision of engineers.

Each month, the DevOps Playground welcomes large numbers of tech-enthusiasts to one of our four worldwide locations – London, Singapore, Pune and Edinburgh. Each Playground lasts for around 2.5 hours, with a chunk of that time set aside for individuals to run and use the chosen tech / tools on their own laptop.

Attendees can expect to follow along with a structured and comprehensive exercise, designed to jumpstart new users with unfamiliar technologies and to highlight the best ways to use the technology. If this is the first you’ve heard of it, head over to the DevOps Playground website to find out more.

Other key takeaways from the show include:

  • Containers are driving the Cloud adoption of software development for 90% of the customers we spoke to
  • DevOps is the new standard for Cloud and agile working and is driving the need to modernise the more traditional methods
  • Cloud Expo is the one-stop-shop for all things Cloud – it was an eye opener seeing how much physical infrastructure goes into the ‘Cloud’

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. We will be revealing a mini-video series about Cloud Expo over the next couple of weeks to recapture some of the best moments from the show – watch this space!

Morgan AtkinsECS Digital at Cloud Expo Europe
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Can a new hire benefit from Terraform?

Can a new hire benefit from Terraform?

The short answer? Yes. For that matter, any programmer, new or old, can benefit from Terraform. I’m only a few months into my journey with Terraform and its already proving itself as extremely beneficial.

Before describing how Terraform can benefit you, it would probably be best to explain what Terraform is and get everyone on the same page. Terraform is software created by our partner Hashicorp, responsible for helping us to implement infrastructure as code. With the industry’s bid to turn everything into code, it seemed only natural for Hashicorp to provide a solution to spinning up service providers, whilst enabling easy versioning and replication. In a single sentence: Terraform allows us to turn the entire process of setting up cloud providers into code that can be automated and version controlled.

The main benefits of using Terraform are how replicable everything becomes and how easy it is to make changes and track said changes. Like any good code, all these resources that Terraform creates are easily transferrable.

Problem Scenario

Imagine, for some internal testing you set up a group of resources to test a Continuous Pipeline on AWS. The plan is to use an orchestration tool like Jenkins, test software like SonarQube and a binary repository like Nexus. You set up the resources, the security groups, subnet, etc. You configure the ports the software is expected to run on, along with various other requirements they need, like Java versions.

Four months later after the testing is complete, you need to set up the same solution for a client. Maybe with a different binary repository like JFrog. Only, the resources are gone. No reason to keep resources you weren’t using for four months (or if you did, that was four months of subscription for resources that weren’t being used- a loss either way). Now you have to go through the entire process of setting up everything again. In the best-case scenario with perfect documentation, you’d still have to manually go through each and every step, provisioning each resource and configuring each software package. More than likely, you’ll find a knowledge gap somewhere and you have to fumble around trying to get it all working again.

In addition to this, there are minor changes and updates. For example, a new port needs to be opened and perhaps the keys need changing for security reasons. Perhaps a value was misnamed and needs correction. How can you ensure that the changes won’t impact the setup of the service? Then for every change and update the documentation would also need updating as well to record this.

Terraform to the Rescue

With Terraform, most, if not all of the hassle, can be removed from that messy situation. Code can be reused infinitely, with perhaps some minor changes and updates to suit the new scenario.

Want to pre-install software like Jenkins and Nexus without having to manually download them and their dependencies? Turn it into a script and automate it.

Need to configure ports and environmental variables for said software? Put those in the script too.

A year has passed, maybe the original programmer for the solution has been moved to another project.  Don’t worry, the terraform script remains.

Made a change to security groups and unsure if it works? Copy the code, make the change and run the code to verify its functionality. With some refactoring, it even becomes possible to only copy parts relevant to you. As with the scenario above, simply remove the script and associated config files, if any, for installing Nexus and prepare one for JFrog. Now you have a terraform code for installing a CI pipeline that supports either Nexus or JFrog, which can also be easily modified to work on other OSes and even install other tools.

Not For Everyone

Now that being said, an absolute newcomer, should not start using Terraform immediately. Terraform knowledge in no way supersedes the knowledge of the actual provider. Knowing that a security group exists and is needed for Terraform to create an AWS resource instance is not a suitable replacement for understanding WHY the security group is necessary or WHAT the security group does. Some hands on with what goes on “under the hood” still goes a long way.

My Short Terraform Journey So Far…

As infrastructure as code, Terraform provides an easily mutable code that is version controlled when integrated with other services like Git… And being code, it is easily repurposed for other projects and uses. As a new hire at ECS Digital with only a few months of using Terraform, I’ve already benefited tremendously from this incredible tool. Ranging from repurposing the code and scripts of others in my own setup, to easily providing fresh instances for me to test without all the manual work that goes into setting them up.

Just as excitingly, Hashicorp is far from done with Terraform. As of this article, Terraform is still at version 0.11. This means that there is still vast room for iteration and improvement on Terraform, such as better importing of pre-existing resources into Terraform’s set of managed resources.

Having already benefited so much from Terraform in its early life cycle, I am certainly keen to see what more can be done with it. If you’re interested in starting your Terraform journey with us, feel free to contact us or check out our Hashicorp training we provided as official Hashicorp partners.

Matthew SongCan a new hire benefit from Terraform?
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DevOps Playground Meetup #6: Hands on with HashiCorp’s Terraform

DevOps Playground Meetup #6: Hands on with HashiCorp’s Terraform

A successful sixth meetup!

This Tuesday, we hosted our sixth monthly #DevOpsPlayground meetup. It was a successful evening, attended by many.

These meetups allow us to explore and present DevOps tools – as well as providing others with the opportunity to give them a try.

This month, Mourad Trabelsi talked about HashiCorp’s Terraform.

Terraform

1.pngHashicorp’s Terraform allows you to write your infrastructure as code.

Writing configuration files and the running Terraform apply allows you to easily spin up new infrastructure. You can do this using multiple providers, including AWSDigitalOceanDocker and many more.

You can then provision them if needed.

Hands on!

During this meetup, Mourad guided us through creating a configuration file to create two webservers using one security group, then a load balancer in front of these two webservers, using its own security group, all of that in AWS.

Schema of the final infrastructure:

2.png

You can find a walkthrough of the technical steps on our GitHub page, here.

 

A big thank you to everyone who participated in this meetup.

We hope to see you all again in the next one!

Michel LebeauDevOps Playground Meetup #6: Hands on with HashiCorp’s Terraform
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ECS Digital announces strategic DevOps partnership with GitHub

ECS Digital announces strategic DevOps partnership with GitHub

Industry leaders partner to maximise reach of joint DevOps solutions and capabilities. 

ECS Digital (previously Forest Technologies), the leading DevOps and Digital Transformation Consultancy headquartered in London, today announced its strategic partnership with GitHub, the platform millions of developers and organisations around the world use to discover, share and contribute to projects.

Under this partnership, ECS Digital will include GitHub solutions in their reference continuous delivery tool chain for their customers’ DevOps and digital transformation engagements. Every business relies on software to deliver value to its customers and DevOps is the perfect catalyst for innovation in software development, and more importantly a powerful tool for organisations looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital-led market. Software is more critical than ever.

“GitHub has established itself not only as the largest code repository service but increasingly as a collaboration platform with some of the world’s largest open source projects,” said Andy Cureton, Founder of Forest Technologies, now ECS Digital.

“More and more businesses are looking to adopt DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices to enable them to deliver software faster, better and cheaper. Such initiatives require buy in from the development community and what better way to win this than with GitHub’s social coding and collaboration tools.”

“Having the right software practices in the enterprise is more important today than ever before,”said Jesper Hyrm, VP for EMEA at GitHub.

“GitHub Enterprise enables customers to collaborate on important projects more effectively while controlling the production, maintenance, and quality of their code. With Forest Technologies’ experienced DevOps consulting and enablement capabilities, this partnership will allow customers to get the most from their GitHub Enterprise deployments.”

The partnership enables GitHub and ECS Digital’s clients to enhance continuous delivery through end to end automation while achieving greater agility and control. The expertise provided by both organisations will enable clients to adopt the necessary tools to begin their DevOps journey.

Additional Information:

Connect with GitHub on Twitter and LinkedIn

Connect with ECS Digital on Twitter and LinkedIn

ECS Logo.png

About ECS Digital:

ECS Digital, previously Forest Technologies, is a leader in automation. We help enterprises deliver software and software related services faster and at a lower cost through the adoption of DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices. Fanatical about customer service, ECS Digital consultants are hired as much for their DNA as their ability. Established in 2003 with headquarters in London and offices in Singapore, ECS Digital has over 100 customers from startups to enterprises across sectors including finance, retail, telco, and online gambling. More information can be found at www.ecs-digital.co.uk

About GitHub:

GitHub is how people build software. Millions of individuals and organisations around the world use GitHub to discover, share, and contribute to software—from games and experiments to popular frameworks and leading applications.

Whether you work for a small startup, a university, or a FTSE 100 company, GitHub enables powerful, collaborative workflows. You can use GitHub.com in the cloud or GitHub Enterprise on your server, then integrate your favourite apps and services to customise how you build software.

Andy CuretonECS Digital announces strategic DevOps partnership with GitHub
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