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Enabling DevOps to Succeed: Go Beyond APIs

lori-short-2012Bio: Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire software suite with an emphasis on F5 Synthesis and LineRate. She currently focuses on cloud computing, infrastructure, devops, data center architecture, and security-related topics. Lori has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Lori authored this Blog.

 

One of the most frustrating experiences a developer can have is when a deployment into production goes wrong. It doesn’t matter how much you test yourself or in QA, invariably something goes wrong in production. That’s usually because while traditional DEV and TEST (QA) environments closely mirror the application infrastructure that will be used in production, it does not – and cannot – mirror the network infrastructure. The complex web of application and network services that exist in a production environment have been too expensive and difficult to replicate. So developers and admins have had to cross their fingers and hope nothing goes wrong. And when it does? It’s back to the queue until the next change window opens.

One might surmise that if you could only test deployments in a real environment that such situations would effectively go away. But asking to test against real, live production network infrastructure is akin to Oliver Twist asking for “More, please” in Dickens’ famous novel.

This nightmare is not reserved for developers and operators. Imagine, if you will, a network or application service professional crafting the appropriate policies designed to scale, secure, and optimize your application. This is not a trivial task. Oh, certainly assigning IP addresses and even VLANs seems simple, but there’s so much more to “the network” than just basic networking. There’s the load balancing with its associated (and very much required) monitoring. There’s application and network firewalling, anti-malware and anti-virus scanning for systems that exchange large data sets. There’s optimizations for mobile and things that must be configured, routes between services, isolation policies and more. This isn’t a “give me an IP address and let’s be done with it” kind of process. It’s a complex dance involving multiple parties that requires collaboration and careful orchestration.

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In the past there’s been no way to “test” such a complex interaction of services outside of production. It’s do or die, deploy or roll back. It’s no wonder it takes so long to move that app into production.

But things are changing, for the better. Virtualization and programmability of network and application service infrastructure is making it possible to test policies and configurations before production, in increasingly complex configurations. Whether it’s the use of virtual labs or virtual appliances, the need to support testing of network and application service infrastructure is being heard and answered.

This is critical, especially as these systems become more integrated and orchestrated. Consider the role of Cisco’s APIC, for example, in not only provisioning but configuring a variety of application services such as those We (F5) provide through BIG-IP and BIG-IQ. It’s important that those responsible for deploying the policies that scale, secure, and optimize apps are able to test the orchestration that will ultimately deliver the application’s needed services into production.

That’s why it’s exciting to see Cisco’s efforts around DevNet and in particular its sandboxes. The ability to test against real infrastructure before moving into the production environment is of significant value in reducing the time it takes to move through production and improving time to market for all manner of applications. Like our own DevCentral, Cisco’s DevNet efforts are designed to provide a community in which documentation, testing, example code, and support are all available when its needed, whether that’s at 2pm or 2am.

This support and ability to test is paramount as DevOps continues to make its way into the network and bring with it the benefits developers and operators have begun to enjoy: stability of infrastructure, consistency of policy, and speed of deployment. “The network” needs not only the methodologies DevOps brings but similar frameworks for testing and the application of continuous integration for those networking components that rely on integration to provide for deployment and administration of network and application services, such as Cisco and F5.

Sandboxes, documentation, examples, and virtual appliances all lend themselves to enabling DevOps to extend its reach into the deployment pipeline. By including critical network and application services as part of an extended CI/CD pipeline, organizations can enjoy the benefits of a more agile deployment pipeline.

Greater agility in the pipeline through community, testing, and support is as much a goal of our partnership with Cisco as the deployment experience offered by the integration between Cisco APIC and F5 solutions.

Check out the 2nd release of F5’s State of Application Delivery Report. This survey of over 3,000 global customers helps us better understand how organizations from a diverse cross-section of industries, departments and regions deliver applications and keep their data and users secure, in light of such IT trends as cloud computing, SDN and DevOps.

Deploy on.

Related Links:

www.cisco.com/go/acif5

https://www.devcentral.f5.com

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The Journey to DevOps and Composable Infrastructure

The rate of change is accelerating in IT. The need to provide your enterprise with a competitive advantage and to leverage new technologies is driving the need for rapid change and constant improvement. IT organizations must deliver new business services consisting of new and enhanced applications faster while ensuring SLAs. This environment of frequent and rapid change is what analysts refer to as Mode 2. It requires adopting business practices where development and IT operations work more closely together and more processes are automated. These forces are driving the growing requirement for DevOps and composable infrastructure.

Speed of ChangeAfter watching the videos and reading the press reports from the recent HPE Synergy announcement, you’d think that transitioning to a DevOps and implementing composable infrastructure just requires purchasing the new hardware and launching HPE OneView. Some good marketing, but DevOps is a methodology, not a system. It is an ongoing journey of continuous improvement as well as continuous delivery. Adapting to a faster rate of change requires enhancing processes, better communication and tighter integration of tools as well as some new technology.

You can embrace the speed of change while minimizing the disruption and risk. We’ve developed a new brief that explains how you can make the transition to DevOps and composable infrastructure easier using your existing UCS systems, UCS management software and operations management tools.

Download the brief to learn more.

Read More »

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You’ve Got a What?

Ever heard that when you’ve told someone what device you just bought?  Or perhaps ”You’ve already upgraded, does everything still work?”  As more devices hit the market, they bring with them new platforms and operating systems. Add video delivery into the mix, and the terrain becomes even harder to navigate.  But it also brings a huge opportunity; the opportunity to be first with your video and entertainment service.

What does being first really mean?  It means that you are the first to offer apps that are compatible with new channels to market. It means continuing to give your customers the content they love when, and how they want it, no matter which platform they use.  It means ensuring that when they unbox that new device, yours is one of the first apps or services they use.  Being first helps you strengthen customer loyalty and engagement from day one, whilst, of course, ensuring that you continue to provide a quality service on established and legacy platforms.

You've Got What

To  learn more about the infographic above click here.

At CES 2016, we’ll be showing how you can support a huge range of devices and platforms using our Infinite Video service. Putting DevOps for Video into action, we’ll show you how you can rapidly deliver a broad range of high quality services from the cloud with a consistent user experience.

Thanks to our scale, our partner relationships, and our experience, we can develop solutions that will work on new platforms even before they are released to the market. That way, our customers can continue to monetize their content and services irrespective of the device their consumers are using.  By providing this capability to our customers as a service, we free them up to focus on managing their business, not their technology.

So if you’re a content provider, a rights owner, or service provider, visit us at CES 2016. We’ll demonstrate how our customers are monetizing on great content and services, no matter what device or network their consumers use. And you’ll see how Cisco is putting its customers first… in more ways than one!

To find out more, follow us on Twitter @CiscoSP360.

 

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Avoid Wild Light Sabers & See How Pulsant Delivers Cloud Services Faster With ACI (Case Study)

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Being fast is important this time of year.

X–Wing Fighters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are fast.

Avoiding that overly excited light saber wielding fan in line requires you to be fast.

Holiday shoppers are snatching up deals fast.

Retailers with transaction spikes need to add infrastructure capacity fast.

Your customers want their IT Infrastructure services fast…and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) helps deliver that speed.

This IDC report shows how Pulsant – a UK based IT Infrastructure Services Provider – delivers services fast with ACI. It also quantifies the returns on that speed and other benefits. In some ways, their story is like that of many customers – they need to deliver IT services faster, they need to do more with less…you know the drill. And if you are using ACI, you also know how to address those issues. If not, take a couple minutes and check out the report. In it, Martin Lipka, Head of Connectivity Architecture at Pulsant, addresses a number of interesting issues and IDC helps to quantify them. Check out how Pulsant is:

  • Onboarding customers faster with the “simplified automation” ACI provides
  • Growing its customer base without needing to add a commensurate number of network engineers
  • Reducing the frequency of misconfigurations and improving the security of its services

In the report, Martin explains how “automation and repeatable processes enabled by Cisco ACI have benefited his company by reducing the time needed to provision network resources and speeding up deployment cycles.” For example, “Pulsant needed an average of 7–14 days before moving to Cisco ACI to deliver a bespoke cloud service to a customer, whereas it now needs only 2–3 days.” At the back end, when those services are no longer needed, “the network process of decommissioning a customer and cleansing the configuration has gone from taking hours to seconds thanks to Cisco ACI’s built-in automation.”

ACI helps Pulsant deliver services fast. ACI also delivered a return fast – ROI analysis showed a payback period of under 7 months.

In summary, if you are looking to deploy services fast, tear them down fast, get a return fast – check out the report and check out ACI.

And, oh yeah, as a public safety message, please let’s not swing those light sabers too fast tonight. May the force be with you…

Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

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Devops Means “No, you cannot operate my cloud”

One of the things I really believe strongly is that modern SaaS software development – both the practices and code it produces – are significantly different from traditional enterprise premises-based software development. Yet, I find that for people who have never built and operated a modern SaaS platform, these differences are difficult to grasp. Let me replay for you a conversation I’ve had many times.

Jonathan: “We’ve built this awesome new Cisco Spark cloud platform, which powers the Cisco Spark app. We do continuous delivery, pushing new updates every day. Our engineers operate the platform – a.k.a. devops – and they track a bunch of metrics on quality and engagement that they use every day to make improvements in the code.”

Customer/Partner: “That sounds great! I’ve got a question though – do you have a packaged version that I can operate on premises?”

The answer is – of course not.

When I tell customers/partners this, they are surprised. The reason for this is NOT that we don’t want their money (trust me that’s not it), or that we have some kind of policy or strategic reason that we don’t want to do it. The reason is that it’s technically infeasible. And doing so would mean we’d have to destroy many of the benefits that we’ve built for our customers in the first place.

The reason ultimately comes down to Read More »

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