Channel Partners

FAL 2016

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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FEATURE other deployment management tools include Ansible Tower, Foreman and Atlas. PICK YOUR CONTAINER In the beginning, applications ran on one operating system on one physical server, period. Then came hypervisors and virtual machines. A VM offers a full operating system and associated resources, and several VMs can run in the same physical machine. However, VMs must still be started, or "spun up," in a server. They can consume a relatively large amount of resources, and there are often limits on their portability. Containers offer a new type of virtualiza - tion by packaging an application and its dependencies — runtime, system tools, system libraries — together, while using the host's operating system. As a result, containers consume fewer resources, can be moved from one host to another, and are simpler and faster to deploy. They offer a number of advantages for DevOps, including built-in version control and ease of monitoring and management. Does that mean containers will replace virtual machines? Although their resource savings and speed of deployment make containers attractive, they are less secure than VMs, and they must often all use the same Linux operating system. Coexistence with VMs is more likely. In shared environments like public clouds, containers are often implemented within a VM, for this reason. CI: THE ROAD THROUGH INTEGRATION HELL The closer a team works together when producing and deploying software, the better. Still, developers also need to work separately on individual parts of the code. Maybe a customer is doing some work while your team is contributing modules. The risk, however, is that difficulties will arise when these individual efforts are integrated. In pre-DevOps days, this phase was often pushed back until after all development work had been done. This led to "integration hell," where teams struggled to make modules work together. Code had to be rewritten or even scrapped, meaning a waste of time and money. DevOps reduces this hellscape by using continuous integration (CI). Smaller, but more frequent, code changes are committed to a version control system. A CI server then builds the application from the latest versions of the modules in the version control system and tests the build. These test results shine a spotlight on problems or conflicts, which can then be resolved. The result? A solid, tested code base on which the next development can be based. With a higher frequency of integration testing, rework and waste are minimized. CI products include Jenkins, Bamboo, Solano and Atlas. MIND THE VERSIONS In DevOps, the goal is not only to excel in producing applications. It is also to control the IT infrastructure through code, including integration testing, server deployment and configuration, monitoring and reporting. Once code is in place for any of these items, it can be automatically triggered and executed. This code-based approach is what makes continuous delivery possible in DevOps: Applications flow from their creation through to deploy - ment in the real world of production. Code version control is therefore vitally important. Application code branches must be merged for testing. Infrastructure configuration code must be available in the latest version to operations. Version control systems can also hold configurations for performance monitoring and log management systems, sources of recurring services revenue. In addition, clear records of which code changes were made where, when and why are crucial for speedy problem resolution and auditing. Today's popular version control systems are Git, SVN and Mercurial. Whichever system you use, each code change committed should automatically trigger continuous integration and/ or continuous deployment. Speed and reliability of releases go up, issues and incidents go down. ROUND UP THE DATA Finally, servers and applications generate a wealth of performance feedback and log data. This data can be used to pinpoint the origins of issues and indicate opportunities for improve - ment. Think of how much time your team spends tracking down bottlenecks. With the right tool in place for collecting data from different locations, then collating and making sense of it, you can debug applica - tions that are in development, including configurations involving multiple modules, systems and networked locations. Staff can also monitor applications in production and react to abnormal events; troubleshoot problems in production systems using precise information on the time issues occurred and comparing faulty and correctly operating systems; and identify opportunities to improve performance. Rapid analysis of feedback data, at whatever stage, allows developers to produce and test new versions of software in a timely way. Better still, performance analytics can be moved forward ("feed - forward") in the DevOps cycle to evaluate performance of an application even before it's in production. Your team can define with customers key performance indicators to measure once an application goes live. Well-known application performance and log management tools include Splunk, SolarWinds, Logstash and New Relic. The best pick depends on your, or your customer's, budget and willingness to handle complexity. PaperTrails is the entry- level solution in terms of simplicity, range of functionality and cost of implementation. New Relic offers pay-as-you-go pricing. An implementation of Logstash is also affordable, although implementation tends to be more complex. Splunk, on the other hand, can be costly, both in licensing and implementation, positioning it as more of an enterprise-level solution. For partners that haven't gotten onboard the DevOps train, grab your ticket before this one passes by. As CEO of Fusion PPT, Michael Biddick is responsible for the strategic vision, market strategy, project quality and overall performance of the company. @michaelbiddick 28 CHANNEL PARTNERS FALL 2016

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