Diving into DevOps

Jenkins World 2017: CloudBees & Electric Cloud Diving Deep for DevOps ROI

John finds two new solutions marking the next step in the evolution of DevOps: CloudBees DevOptics and ElectricFlow 8.0.

This year's Jenkins World, the annual user conference focused on tools, trends and technologies supporting (or exploiting) the open source Jenkins continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) server, was buzzing with vendor announcements, but two in particular seemed to signal a new phase in the evolution of DevOps.

CloudBees, the event's sponsor and Jenkins' chief commercial supporter, made a flurry of announcements, introducing a new free service that analyzes Jenkins environments, identifies potential issues, and offers advice for corrective action (Jenkins Advisor); a new version of its Jenkins Enterprise edition with an intuitive UI focused on supporting teams and collaboration; a new partnership with some Managed Service Providers to provide the Enterprise edition as a managed service; and an Enterprise edition for customers of VMware Cloud on AWS.

But it was the unveiling of CloudBees DevOptics that really caught my eye. The company is billing the new product as "the only solution available to provide insights into the end-to-end application delivery stream" to create "a holistic view of the software delivery process."

"A lot of the focus today is on how you can scale and operate Jenkins in larger environments," CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey told me. "Now we're starting to focus on all of the value that can be extracted from these processes. If you think about the position of Jenkins in the DevOps space, it's essentially at the core of all the changes. It sees all the code contributions from the different teams and tools, and yet, all of that information is not leveraged today. You could argue that there's no real system of record for DevOps today."

This is about providing a way to optimize investments in DevOps initiatives and measure the ROI. The DevOptics solution provides this suddenly essential capability by aggregating live data from software pipelines to create a single source of truth, from which users can extract metrics and insights and construct a holistic view of application delivery. As CloudBees puts it, the solution "creates context between teams, applications, and tools to identify ROI, improvements, and increase collaboration."

"What we're doing is expanding the domain model, extending the vocabulary of the objects we want to track," Labourey said. "Jenkins is very focused on users and pipelines, which is important. But what wakes you up at night isn't the pipelines, it's uncertainty about the value of the application, and whether it's going live with the right features."

"DevOps is likely to become the next generation IT," Labourey added, "and we're producing a lot of value that we're not tracking. This is a situation that must change, and we are providing the means to make that change."

Electric Cloud's release of a new version of its flagship DevOps automation platform, ElectricFlow, also caught my eye. Version 8.0, available now, comes with a feature called DevOps Insight Analytics, which is able to pull key metrics from any tools being orchestrated as part of the end-to-end delivery process -- as the company says, "from user story tracking and build automation to test automation and operations." It also comes with a software development kit (SDK) that allows teams to extend the solution to capture custom metrics from new tools."

"This is part of a strategy that we've been working on for quite a few years," Electric Cloud CTO Anders Wallgren told me. "We've been laying the groundwork for becoming the backbone of DevOps automation for our customers. This new addition to the family pulls a lot of the metadata and analytics we get as a side effect of automating the software pipelineā€”building, testing, deployments, security validations, etc. It takes those analytics and racks them up onto fully customizable dashboards."

The DevOps Insight tool is built on the ElasticSearch RESTful search engine and LogStack context stack, and the company is providing it as a tightly integrated, stand-alone Business Intelligence server. The BI server isolates reporting requests from pipeline orchestration to eliminate the threat of performance impact.

The analytics feature collects and centralizes this data, Wallgren added, and makes it accessible to both technical and non-technical users. They have access to "instant insights" into the status of the releases, easier troubleshooting analysis of bottlenecks or specific tasks along the pipeline, and the ability to spot trends at a glance in real time.

"One of the cultural touchstones in DevOps is sharing and visibility," Wallgren said. "With this release, we're opening things up to a different audience."

The arrival of serious analytics tools with a focus on tracking business value and optimize investments supports CloudBees' Labourey's expectation that DevOps is going to become the next-generation IT. As Electric Cloud's head of marketing, Sam Fell, put it, "DevOps is about being Agile and going fast. But you can't go fast if you can't see where you're going."

I think it's fair to say that both of these solutions mark a next step in the evolution of DevOps.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].