Release rigor in the Cloud

With number of applications and development’s need to push changes out quickly rising, it is only natural that more and more work is done in the Cloud.

The process is simple. While an application is still in development, developers need freedom to act quickly and change environment as they see fit – both things you can’t do easily in corporate infrastructure.

However, the detractors of  (public) cloud claim that it is this flexibility that makes any development (or even testing) in the cloud useless when it comes to releasing the product in production, basically implying that the Release rigor cannot be applied when apps are developed in the Cloud.

I don’t think that’s true. Developers understand what makes their apps happy. Unless they are using PaaS from one of the vendors like EngineYard, Heroku or CloudFoundry, their cloud (IaaS) environment will reflect their in-house environment as closely as possible. They can use same scripts to setup their servers in the cloud.  Any changes to cloud environment can still be documented and new/updated scripts be sent to the QA/ops guys for verification. If approvals come through, the new deployment should go without a hitch.

Once an app is ready to be deployed in higher level environment (like UAT, pre-prod etc), regular Release lifecycle ensues.

Almost all enterprises (banks, retailers, healthcare and manufacturers) have cloud initiative underway and I don’t hear anybody saying that cloud adoption will impact Release rigor in a negative way.


Why should I care about the “Cloud”?

What is the #1 purported benefit of adopting a cloud service? If you listen to the cloud providers like Amazon, VMware, Google, Rackspace and others, it is the ability to spin up dev/test/prod environments within minutes instead of days or weeks.

From my experience , most IT practitioners have streamlined their processes and technology to deliver almost an on-demand service to their dev/test organizations. For companies such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, American Express, Walmart, Macys, KP, McKesson, etc. “weeks” is just too long of a delay to set up an environment. My experience with some of these companies shows that they can stand up a new environment with 24 hour notice. Some can do it within a matter of minutes. 

Now we could argue that in this day and age 24 hours to spin up an environment is just unacceptable but I believe the right question is – “At what cost?”

For dime/hour, you can have an instance running on most major cloud providers. It sounds cheaper than what system admins within enterprise IT could offer but if you include the cost of time somebody spends installing right software and applications of the server and making sure it works with other (in-house) IT systems, the cost will be more than 10c/hour. Add security processes and integrations and the cost rises further.

However, the power of the cloud is that it has democratized IT. If central/shared IT service is bogged down in running the production systems, developers/testers have an option to jump to the cloud for next to nothing. As everybody gets comfortable with this, admins could better spend their time managing higher level environments (pre-prod, staging, prod) while lower level environments could be handed back to Developers and Testers.

There are other benefits of Cloud (PaaS, SaaS and IaaS) that we will discuss in later posts.


Why Cloud Of IT?

With hundreds, probably thousands of blogs clamoring for your attention, why Cloud of IT ?

Because Cloud of IT is different.  It focuses on key trends including Cloud Computing, Big Data, DevOps and Security from the perspective of the real Enterprise IT practitioners and executives. The sole purpose here is to help IT executives find relevant information – fast. 

Even more important will be the ability to ask questions and express your point of view so that the vendors and IT system providers understand what makes sense for you, people who actually deal with the challenges of keeping banks, retailers and health care providers up and running every day.