Tag Archives: devops

Brocade makes play for DevOps market with StackStorm acquisition

BrocadeNetworking vendor Brocade has acquired StackStorm, a start-up that builds software for automating datacentre operations.

StackStorm, which describes itself as an organization defined by the DevOps ideology, said on its blog that it will be joining Brocade to help accelerate the company’s efforts to bring DevOps style scalable open source automation to Brocade’s networking solutions. This is one of the first moves which Brocade has made to capitalize on the growing DevOps trends within the industry.

The company was launched in 2013 and left stealth mode in May 2014 promoting itself as a company which can streamline datacentre operations. The model itself is focused on incorporating a DevOps ideology into the datacentre, automating common tasks, claiming it can help companies run their facilities like Facebook, where a single person can be responsible for tens of thousands of servers, not just a couple of hundred.

On the Brocade blog, PG Menon, Senior Director of Technology & Strategy for Switching, Routing and Analytics said “Using StackStorm technology, Brocade customers will be able to bring DevOps methods to networking as well as experience many of the benefits of scale-out IT automation enjoyed by the Cloud Titans.

“Simply put, achieving business agility through DevOps methods for IT automation that also includes networking is no longer limited to Cloud Titans. Every IT shop will be able to realize those same benefits.”

While DevOps is seen as one of the strongest growing trends within the cloud industry, Brocade is building its business case on the fact that the use of DevOps is limited to tech giants at the top of the ladder such as Amazon and Facebook. The company aim to deliver the same agility to smaller organizations who cannot command the software manpower of the industry’s major players in designing and delivering DevOps-enabled business agility.

Under Brocade, the StackStorm technology will be extended to networking and new integrations will be developed for automation across IT domains such as storage, compute, and security. The StackStorm team also highlighted in its blog it anticipates investment from Brocade to increase the size of its team over the coming months.

Micro Focus moves into DevOps space with $540 million Serena acquisition

Money cloudUK enterprise software vendor Micro Focus has announced its intention to acquire US firm Serena Software, in a bid to improve its position in the DevOps space.

Subject to competition clearances from the US and Germany the $540 million acquisition is set to close in May. It will enable Micro Focus to enhance its DevOps credentials, and capitalize on one of the industry’s fastest growing trends.

“Today’s announcement marks another significant milestone for Micro Focus, bringing together two highly complementary solution sets that enable customers to build better applications, adapt to changing business conditions more rapidly and maximise the value of existing investments to drive further innovation within their business,” said Stephen Murdoch, CEO at Micro Focus.

“With Serena, we are further positioned to deliver richer solutions for the complex business demands customers are solving today – with greater reliability, predictability and less risk of failure.”

Micro Focus claims Serena’s capabilities around “true DevOps” will improve its position in a growing market and enable them to improve new business services through automated release and deployment solutions.

“This is an exciting announcement that promises to offer substantial value to Serena customers and partners,” said Greg Hughes, CEO of Serena. “Our complementary strengths in software development and IT Operations will only serve to provide a stronger foundation for the next-generation of applications and services they require to meet ongoing business demands.”

Micro Focus, which says it specializes in enterprise application modernization, has been bolstering its capabilities in recent years, with a focus of diversifying its customer base and portfolio. In 2014, the company announced it was merging with Attachmate Group for approximately US$1.2 billion, which also owned Novell and Suse Linux.

At the time, Kevin Loosemore, Executive Chairman of Micro Focus said “This is a transformational event that enables Micro Focus International to further meet the needs and demands of our customers and global partner network with greater scale, a broader portfolio and the global reach their businesses require.”

Nokia creates foundations for launching telcos into the cloud

nokia data center servicesNokia’s Data Center Services division has unveiled plans to launch mobile telcos into the cloud. Plans include a custom-made a multivendor infrastructure to support its transformation consulting services.

These services aim to help telecoms operators re-shape their people and processes for the new cloud-centric comms industry. In a statement it explained that its new managed cloud operations aim to make the introduction of multi-vendor hybrid operations, cloud data centres and the virtualisation of network functions (VNFs) as painless as possible.

The networking vendor is expanding its cloud services portfolio with the launch of three professional services. Nokia Data Center services will offer development and operations (DevOps) services, with a brief to help telcos use cloud technology to launch services as quickly as possible.

Secondly, the Nokia Cloud Transformation Consulting services aim to help operators make the fullest use of telco cloud opportunities. Nokia said it is using expertise rom the Bell Labs Consulting practice to support operators and enterprises in addressing cloud transformation.

Finally the Managed Cloud Operations managed service will help telcos run hybrid operations across hardware, cloudware and application layer management, without the build up of silos of information that have traditionally hamstrung telcos turned comms service providers.

In order to support the data centre services Nokia is creating a design facility in the UK, supported by global delivery depots across the globe. To complement its services portfolio, Nokia has now invited partners, such as global supply chain Sanmina, to focus on Data Center services.

The service is needed because 62% of operators are very likely to rely on network equipment providers for data centre transformation, according to Heavy Reading research figures quoted by Nokia.

Meanwhile, in a related announcement Nokia said it will simplify networks with a new Shared Data Layer, a central point of storage for all the data used by Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs). This could free VNFs from the need to manage their own data, creating so-called stateless VNFs that are simpler and have the capacity for rapid expansion or contraction.

The result is a more flexible, programmable network for 5G that can minimise latency and maximise network speeds in order to cater for the Internet of Things (IoT). The network also becomes more reliable as a failed stateless VNF can instantly activate and provide access to the shared data to maintain seamless service continuity.

HPE launches AppTrace Pulse to monitor cloud apps

HPE street logoHewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has launched a service that developer clients can use to monitor their cloud app performances.

The HPE AppPulse Trace is intended for developers and DevOps teams to use for isolating and fixing problems. The new module fits into HPE’s Application Performance Monitoring (APM) software suite and is integrated with HPE’s analytics engine Vertica.

HPE claims it can pinpoint the exact lines of code and server location at the root of every glitch in the cloud. It achieves this by trawling massive volumes of data produced by applications and end user interactions. AppPulse Trace can find faults in user interactions, analyse crashes and measure resource usage, according to HPE. The intelligence can then be used by developers to fine tune apps, create new tools and rethink their approach to building applications.

AppPulse Trace works alongside two other modules already available, AppPulse Active and AppPulse Mobile. Active lets developers emulate real-user behaviour with scripts and synthetic transaction robots. This helps to model events and identify problems to fix before apps are put into production. AppPulse Mobile tracks the digital user experience of mobile apps in production, giving developers and DevOps teams real-user data so they can prioritise the issues affect users most. It also gives instant insight into the health of any application.

With developers under pressure to deliver apps at short notice this could be an indispensable tool according to Tony Sumpster, general manager of HPE’s IT Operations Management.

Beta test user Chris Trimper, Application Services Manager at Independent Health Association said it saved him nearly a whole week of work. “The worst way to monitor performance is to wait for someone to complain. With HPE AppPulse we saved 36 IT hours a month by reusing scripts and we reduced our average app response time from 12 seconds down to 4 seconds,” he said.

IBM and Microsoft race to develop Blockchain-As-A-Service

Money cloudIBM has made 44,000 lines of code available to the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Project in a bid to speed the development of a Blockchain ledger for secure distributed online financial transactions.

IBM is now competing with a number of vendors, such as Microsoft Azure and Digital Asset, to bring Blockchain services to market either as a Bitcoin crypto currency enabler or for wider applications in financial services trading and even the IoT.

In a statement IBM said it wants to help create a new class of distributed ledger applications by letting developers use IBM’s new blockchain services available on Bluemix, where they can get DevOps tools to create and run blockchain apps on the IBM Cloud or z System mainframes. New application programming interfaces mean Blockchain apps will now be able to access existing transactions on these systems to support new payment, settlement, supply chain and business processes.

IBM also unveiled plans to put Blockchain technology to use on the Internet of Things (IoT) through its Watson IoT Platform. Information from RFID-based locations, barcode-scans or device-reported data could be managed through IBM’s version of Blockchain with devices communicating with the ledger to update or validate smart contracts. Under the scheme, the movement of an IoT-connected package through multiple distribution points could be managed and updated on a Blockchain system to give a more accurate and timely record of events in the supply chain.

The vendor intends to foster greater levels of Blockchain app design activity through its new IBM Garages that will open in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo.

In Tokyo IBM and the Japan Exchange Group have agreed to test the potential of blockchain technology for use in trading in low transaction markets. As the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project evolves, the joint IBM and JPX evaluation work will adapt to use of the code produced by that effort.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is to launch its own Blockchain as a service (BaaS) offering within in its Azure service portfolio with a certified version of the online ledger scheduled to be launched in April.

In January 2016, Microsoft announced that it is developing Blockchain related services in its Azure’s DevTest Labs. In November BCN reported that Microsoft has launched a cloud-based ledger system for would-be bitcoin traders.

Microsoft is also inviting potential service provider partners pioneer the use of Blockchain technology in the cloud.

Exponential Docker usage shows container popularity

Global Container TradeAdoption of Docker’s containerisation technology has entered a period of explosive growth with its usage numbers nearly doubling in the last three months, according to its latest figures.

A declaration on the company blog reports that Docker has now issued 2 billion ‘pulls’ of images. In November 2015 the usage figure stood at 1.2 bullion pulls and the Docker Hub from which these images are pulled was only launched in March 2013.

Docker’s invention of software defined autonomous complete file system that encapsulates all the elements of a server in microcosm – such as code, runtime, system tools and system libraries – has whetted the appetite of developers in the age of the cloud.

In January 2016, Docker users pulled images nearly 7,000 times per minute, which was four times the run rate a year ago. In that one month Docker enjoyed the equivalent of 15% of its total transaction from the past three years.

The number of ‘pulls’ is significant because each of these transactions indicates that a Docker engine is downloading an image to create containers from it. Development teams use Docker Hub to publish and use containerised software, and automate their delivery. The fact that two billion pulls have now taken place indicates the popularity of the technology and the exponential growth rate in the last three months is an indicator of the growing popularity of this variation of virtualisation.

There are currently over 400,000 registered users on Docker Hub. “Our users span from the largest corporations, to newly-launched startups, to the individual Docker enthusiast and their number is increasing every day,” wrote Docker spokesman and blog author Mario Ponticello.

Around a fifth of Docker’s two billion pulls come from its 93 ‘Official Repos’ – a curated set of images from Docker’s partners, including NGINX, Oracle, Node.js and Cloudbees. Docker’s security-monitoring service Nautilus maintains integrity of the Official Repos over time.

“As our ecosystem grows, we’ll be adding single-click deployment and security scanning to the Docker platform,” said Monticello.

A Rightscale study in January 2016 found that 17% of enterprises now have more than 1,000 virtual machines in the public cloud (up 4% in a year) while private clouds are showing even stronger appetite for virtualisation techniques with 31% of enterprises running more than 1,000 VMs, up from 22% in 2015.

IBM and Catalogic Software combine to slash costs of data management

IBM and Catalogic Software have jointly launched a new set of systems which combine Catalogic’s copy data manager ECX with IBM’s storage offerings, in a bid to help clients trim the excessive costs of duplicate data.

The objective is to make DevOps and Hybrid Cloud initiatives easier and less wasteful for IBM clients by automating storage and data management, creating self-service options and creating access to Catalogic software though IBM’s RESTful API management.

Catalogic’s ECX is described as a virtual appliance that runs on a client’s existing infrastructure and acts as a lever of power over storage controllers, storage software systems and hypervisors. IBM claims it has validated the system through months of testing and the two can work in tandem to improve the operations of the core data centre. The combination of the two creates new tools that are necessary for supporting new workload environments and use cases, according to a Catalogic statement.

Today’s core data centre architecture and associated processes don’t lend themselves to agility and flexibility, though they are reliable and secure. Catalogic’s ECX has given IBM a method of creating the former, without sacrificing the latter, said IBM. The key to this is making the storage infrastructure more flexible so that data can be virtualised and kept in one place rather than endlessly replicated for a variety of different project teams. One of the benefits is that live environments can support key IT functions that rely on copies of production data without having to massively expand the data footprint. ECX and IBM’s service services can jointly create a culture of

elasticity and sharing of cloud resources across a variety of functions including Disaster Recovery, Test and Development, Analytics and other departments.

The lower operating costs of cloud resources and saved manual efforts through ECX’s cloud automation will bring up to a 300% return on investment, claims IBM.

Among the systems that ECX can now combine with are IBM’s Storwize family of hybrid flash/HDD systems, the SAN Volume Controller, FlashSystem V9000, Hybrid Cloud Operations with IBM SoftLayer and IBM Spectrum Protect.

“Copy data management can significantly improve data access and availability and create remarkable cost savings,” said Bina Hallman, VP of IBM Storage and Software Defined Systems.

Containers: 3 big myths

schneiderJoe Schneider is DevOps Engineer at Bunchball, a company that offers gamificaiton as a service to likes of Applebee’s and Ford Canada.

This February Schneider is appearing at Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA), where he’ll be cutting through the cloudy abstractions to detail Bunchball’s real world experience with containers. Here, exclusively for Business Cloud News, Schneider explodes three myths surrounding one of the container hype…

One: ‘Containers are contained.’

If you’re really concerned about security, or if you’re in a really security conscious environment, you have to take a lot of extra steps. You can’t just throw containers into the mix and leave it at that: it’s not as secure as VM.

When we instigated containers, at least, the tools weren’t there. Now Docker has made security tools available, but we haven’t transitioned from the stance of ‘OK, Docker is what it is and recognise that’ to a more secure environment. What we have done instead is try to make sure the edges are secure: we put a lot a of emphasis on that. At the container level we haven’t done much, because the tools weren’t there.

Two: The myth of the ten thousand container deployment

You’ll see the likes of Mesosphere, or Docker Swarm, say, ‘we can deploy ten thousand containers in like thirty seconds’ – and similar claims.  Well, that’s a really synthetic test: these kinds of numbers are 100% hype. In the real world such a capacity is pretty much useless. No one cares about deploying ten thousands little apps that do literally nothing, that just go ‘hello world.’

The tricky bit with containers is actually linking them together. When you start with static hosts, or even VMs, they don’t change very often, so you don’t realise how much interconnection there is between your different applications. When you destroy and recreate your applications in their entirety via containers, you discover that you actually have to recreate all that plumbing on the fly and automate that and make it more agile. That can catch you by surprise if you don’t know about it ahead of time.

Three: ‘Deployment is straightforward’

We’ve been running containers in production for a year now. Before then we were playing around a little bit with some internal apps, but now we run everything except one application on containers in production. And that was a bit of a paradigm change for us. The line that Docker gives is that you can take your existing apps and put them in a container that’s going to work in exactly the same way. Well, that’s not really true. You have to actually think about it a little bit differently: Especially with the deployment process.

An example of a real ‘gotcha’ for us was that we presumed Systemd and Docker would play nice together and they don’t. That really hit us in the deployment process – we had to delete the old one and start a new one using system and that was always very flaky. Don’t try to home grow your own one, actually use something that is designed to work with Docker.

Click here to learn more about Container World (February 16 – 18, 2016 Santa Clara Convention Center, USA),

IT conflict in UK companies stunts growth claims DevOps study

software code devopsBritish firms are falling behind in the app economy thanks to conflict between their development and operations departments, according to a business analyst’s study. British organisations were the second worst in a European study group at harmonising their combined IT effort, with only their German counterparts proving to be less adept at DevOps.

The study was conducted by analyst Freeform Dynamics on behalf of CA Technologies. In the accompanying report Assembling the DevOps Jigsaw, the analyst concluded that UK organisations have three major failings to address. They don’t take a business-led approach to development, they lack skilled and collaborative IT resources and they are missing important control mechanisms for governing the process of DevOps.

As a consequence, the analyst says, UK organisations are at risk of falling behind in the application economy. To support the contention that companies in Europe’s two biggest economies must spend more on DevOps, DevOps supplier CA Technologies said that 84% of UK organisations agree it’s important to have IT and business alignment in relation to DevOps activities, but only 36% have this in place. While 87% of the survey group agreed that relevant IT skills must be in place, only 24% currently do so. Similarly, on the subject of having the right DevOps controls in place, 85% agree it is important but only 20% have already achieved this.

The ‘capability gap’ stems from a lack of cultural harmony in IT, according to the report. While 68% of UK organisations recognised the danger of cultural barriers between Dev and Ops teams, only 38% have fully dealt with cultural transformation. The barriers were identified as traditional lines of demarcation, ingrained mind-sets and long-established turf wars.

While only 11% of UK organisations are ‘Advanced DevOps Adopters’ in Switzerland there are twice as many (23%). Britain also lags behind Spain (13%), France and Italy (both 12%). Only Germany, with a 10% business population of Advanced DevOps Adopters, was worse than the UK in adopting a DevOps culture.

“This study reveals that UK organisations are missing out on the opportunities heralded by the application economy,” said Ritu Mahandru, VP of Solution Sales at CA Technologies, “they are failing to adopt a fluid and experimental approach to product and service development.”

The upshot, he claimed, as that digital interaction with customers, partners and suppliers suffers.

OVH promises undeniable public cloud service in the UK

cloud exchangeEuropean hosting giant OVH has launched a public cloud service in the UK with customisable security as protection against cyber attacks becomes a major selling point alongside open systems mobility.

The service is aimed at developers, system administrators and DevOps, and promises triple data replication, hosting in European data centres and a ‘five nines’ service level agreement (SLA). The OVH Public Cloud is based on OpenStack which, says OVH, will make integrating applications, migrating to the Cloud and moving between cloud providers easier for system builders who want to keep their options open. For this reason, it will also monthly and hourly payment mechanisms so clients aren’t forced to over commit resources. Those that can make monthly payments will get a 50% discount however.

The two main offerings will be Public Cloud Instances and Public Cloud Storage.

Public Cloud Instances provides a choice between two types of virtual machines. RAM instances (starting at £25 a month) are designed for memory-hungry apps such as software as a service (SaaS), multimedia creation and managing large databases. Cloud CPU instances, at £21/month, are designed for managing processing-heavy tasks such as data analytics, computer simulations and managing peak server loads.

The Public Cloud Storage service offers high-availability object storage, to save software developers from the complications involved in setting up network file system or file transfer protocols. Classic and high-speed storage options are also available.

All the Public Cloud packages have automatic, unlimited distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection against all types and lengths of attacks, with detection and auto-mitigation and a back up service of triple data replication. All services will have access to OVH’s global fibre optic network OVH Net.

“We want UK businesses to adopt the cloud with confidence,” said Hiren Parekh, director of sales and marketing at OVH UK. “Our aim is to give users the freedom and flexibility they need as their businesses evolve.”