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DevOps Automation Provider Adds Auto Deployment

On Wednesday DevOps automation company Electric Cloud announced an upcoming new application deployment solution for enterprises, ElectricDeploy.

Essentially a tool for automating the deployment of complex, multi-tier applications (think Java 2 EE), the new solution integrated with the company's flagship ElectricCommander app development platform. Together, the two technologies will provide "end-to-end application delivery automation," the company says.

That's a buzz phrase we're hearing a lot these days, but Kalyan Ramanathan, Electric Cloud's vice president of marketing, insists that it underscores a genuine "market need" among a growing number of enterprises with increasingly complex deployment challenges.

"Our customers have told us that application deployments are a big challenge today," Ramanathan told ADTmag, "especially the Web applications, which have many tiers, many components, many dependencies, many configurations. And deployment is something you have to do many times in that release process. The test team will do many deployments to their environments to run their battery of tests. The release teams will do deployments to pre-production environments to do UAT tests. And then finally the Ops team does deployments to the production environment. And these things happen many times in the release process, which makes the process onerous, and there are lots of inconsistencies in the way these things get done."

Only a solution that stretches all the way from Dev to Ops, effectively integrating how the various teams deploy, can create a truly consistent process, Ramanathan argued.

Gartner analyst Ronni J. Colville agreed. "Application deployment is definitely the ‘weak link' for today's development and ops organizations, since both teams do many deployments during application release," he said in a statement. "Deployment automation improves the consistency, reliability and visibility of the application deployments across all these environments. Equally important, an integrated solution that enables the Dev and Ops teams to iteratively refine and improve the deployment process is key to enabling DevOps and error-free production deployments."

The company's new offering employs a model-driven approach, explained Chris Schleicher, manager of Electric Cloud's software engineering group, to automate and standardize app deployments across Dev, QA, pre-production and production. "It models the apps, the related environments, and the processes that deploy and recover applications," he said. "This approach reduces the variability of deployments across multiple environments. The result is, teams are able to deploy more quickly and more reliably, which is what people are telling us they want and need."

Electric Cloud aims to "go beyond basic automation" with this release, Ramanathan added, with three "fail-safe" features designed to reduce deployment failures in production environments. A feature called Code-Safe, for example, provides run-time debugging capabilities that allow for interactive refinement of the deployment process. "Deployment processes are inherently iterative," he explained, "so the extent to which you can define a deployment process and then iteratively and interactively refine it, you can improve the process and make sure that, by the time you deploy to a production environment, things are bullet-proof."

Another fail-safe feature called Run-Safe allows teams to define success and failure thresholds for deployments. And a third, Recover-Safe, is designed to give teams the ability to define recovery policies and processes for "dynamic management of deployment failures."

"The idea is that there's a single tool here that both groups [Dev and Ops] can use to get the right kind of visibility back and forth, so you get some cross pollination," said Schleicher. "The lessons we've learned over the years between Dev and QA groups are logical extensions of what we're doing here between Dev and all the way out to the production folks."

ElectricDeploy is scheduled for general availability in late July. More information is available here.

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