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Devops: Model First, Automate Later
Modeling should be the first step for devops when automating a deployment process

Modeling should be the first step for #devops when automating a deployment process

When I was a young software developer I had an interview at a large transportation company. This was when object-oriented principles were still the "thing" and Java hadn't quite yet become the language du jour - but it soon would. Sitting in a rather large conference room with a fairly nice white board I was asked to perform a fairly simple (or so it sounds) task: model a zoo.

Like the much discussed interview puzzle questions of many technology giants today, the exercise was not so much about getting it right (you really can't model an entire zoo in software during an interview) as about providing the interviewee with insight into whether or you not you understand the basic principles of modeling an environment. Are you able to identify the major "objects" and, more importantly, their relationship to other objects in the system? Are you cognizant of the minor objects that interact with the major objects, and what role they play in daily operations? Can you correctly point to not only the attributes of but the role performed by each object?

These are the kinds of questions you answer when you're actually modeling a system, and it's not unique to software development. In fact, it's probably one of the more important aspects of devops that may often be overlooked in favor of focusing on individual tasks.

I had a chance to talk with Dan Gordon at Electric Cloud about "Fail-safe Application Deployments" before the holidays and in reviewing Electric Cloud's white paper on the topic I was reminded how important modeling is - or should be - to devops.

You might recall Electric Cloud conducted a survey in June 2012 of app developers, 50% of whom said they have missed an application release date because of issues arising in the deployment process. When asked why that was, a majority (69%) pointed to the complexity of the deployment flows combined with the continued practice of manual configuration (62%) in the process as the culprit.

We know automation can help reduce deployment time and ultimately address errors by enabling more testing more often, but automating a poor or incomplete process can be as disastrous as not automating at all. It's as dangerous to automate a poor or incomplete process as it is to encrypt application data with SSL or TLS and ignore that encrypted malicious code or data is still malicious. What devops needs to do beyond adopting the agile methodologies of development to improve the deployment process is to adopt more of its principles around design and modeling.

Modeling as a Pre-Requisite

One of the five steps to fail-safe application deployments in Electric Cloud's paper on the topic is automation, of course, but its not just about automation - it's also about modeling. It suggests that the automation technology chosen to assist devops should offer a number of modeling capabilities:

It should offer extensive process modeling capabilities. There are three essential models to
• Application – the ‘what’
• Environment – the ‘where’
• Workflow execution – the ‘how’
The environment(s) should be modeled as well, with details such as:
• Server configuration
• Associated parameters
• Environment configurations

Of course Electric Cloud's solutions offer such modeling capabilities. While being able to translate a model into a concrete implementation is always a bonus, it's more important to go through the modeling exercise than anything else. Whether you're using a tool capable of modeling the model, as it were, or you're using scripts or custom developed systems is not nearly as important as actually modeling the deployment process and systems.

Being able to recognize the minutia in a deployment that can often be forgotten is the first step to eliminating missing steps in the deployment process that can cause it to fail. Applications are not islands, they rely on other applications, services, and networking to be deployed successfully, and it is often the case that configurations rely upon IP addresses or other configuration options that must be addressed late in the process - well after the actual application is "deployed" on its platform. Modeling the "objects" in a deployment - as well as their relationships - will help ensure that as the process is automated those relationships and dependent tasks are not overlooked.

Modeling doesn't have to be a formal exercise. Though many developers use UML tools or other formalized processes to conduct modeling exercises, devops should feel free to discover tools or processes for modeling that best fit their needs.

A rather large conference room and a whiteboard can be a revealing tool, after all.

Read the original blog entry...

About Lori MacVittie
Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV

Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.

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In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
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With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
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As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
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The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
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Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company Logz.io. In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
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@CloudExpo Blogs
Naturally, new and exciting technologies and trends like software defined networking, the Internet of Things and the cloud tend to get the lion’s share of attention these days, including when it comes to security. However, it’s important to never forget that at the center of it all is still the enterprise network. And as evidenced by the ever-expanding landslide of data breaches that could have been prevented or at least their impact lessened by better practicing network security basics, it’s obvious there is a need to keep network security best practices front and center. Thus, what follows...
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Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
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With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
The pervasiveness of software is driving the dynamics of business transactions everywhere. We live in a time of a highly competitive and truly global economy where the question being answered among businesses now is “who can innovate the fastest?” To keep pace with the increasing velocity of software updated being introduced to the market, enterprises embrace DevOps and Continuous Delivery practices, along with implementing a fully-automated software delivery process, in order to keep up with the demand to go faster.
In today’s pharmaceutical supply chain, counterfeit activity is thriving. As pharma companies have expanded target markets and outsourced production over the last decade, the supply chain has become increasingly global, virtual, and vulnerable. Illicit activity has thrived, and patients have suffered, with hundreds of thousands dying each year from counterfeit and contaminated drugs. More than 40 countries have responded with new laws that regulate prescription medications as they travel through the supply chain. While this is a quantum leap forward for patient health, the implications for su...
Spirent Communications advances the use of big data to provide improved user experiences for telecommunications operators. Our next big-data case study discussion explores the ways that Spirent Communications advances the use of big data to provide improved user experiences for telecommunications operators. We'll learn how advanced analytics that draws on multiple data sources provide Spirent’s telco customers’ rapid insights into their networks and operations. That insight, combined with analysis of user actions and behaviors, provides a "total picture" approach to telco services and us...
One of the most important tenets of digital transformation is that it’s customer-driven. In fact, the only reason technology is involved at all is because today’s customers demand technology-based interactions with the companies they do business with. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we at Intellyx agree with Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank, when he said, “the fundamental element in digital transformation is extreme customer centricity.” So true – but note the insightful twist that Maes added to the customer-driven digital mantra: extreme. In the context of digital transformation, then,...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Using any programming framework to the fullest extent possible first requires an understanding of advanced software architecture concepts. While writing a little client-side JavaScript does not necessarily require as much consideration when designing a scalable software architecture, the evolution of tools like Node.js means that you could be facing large code bases that must be easy to maintain.
So you want to centralize your enterprise? Smart choice – but it’s important to take some factors into consideration if you want to have success. Developers need to ensure representation from each geographic location; understand current development processes and tools; and comprehend the biggest challenges. Furthermore, you need to be aware of, and sensitive to, your project teams' preferences for existing tools and aversion to change.
Big Data is a growing trend, making it possible for businesses of every kind to gather, store, and use the unlimited personal and private data found on the internet. This massive collection allows them to predict trends, determine consumer tastes, and hone marketing plans for the greatest success. However, the concept of collecting vast amounts of information on people sounds dangerous all on its own; what keeps businesses from stepping over the line? What ethics code ensures consumer privacy along with corporate profit?
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