Continuous Delivery: Conception To Production In Pivotal Cloud Foundry

November 4, 2015 Karun Bakshi


sfeatured-PCF-2Earlier this week, Pivotal introduced several technology integrations between Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) and three key partner platforms. Going forward, customers will be be able to use the flagship products from GitLab, CloudBees and JFrog as platform managed services with PCF. Whereas individually, these partner platforms provide compelling support and automation for key application lifecycle management activities, their availability as a set of integrable platform managed services with PCF represents an important, strategic advantage for forward looking enterprises.

The growing business imperative to leverage software as a competitive advantage is increasingly fueling demand for continuous delivery—the notion that organizations should be able to build, test and release functionality faster and with little friction, so that the lag time from idea conception to production is minimized. Coupled with the continued proliferation of microservices as the dominant architectural pattern for Cloud-Native applications, the continuous delivery approach demands shorter cycles of application delivery.

Pivotal Tracker, the agile project management tool for defining and tracking project lifecycle as a collection of prioritized software development tasks, is ideally suited to this challenge. It is also offered as a managed service with PCF. Nevertheless, short cycles of development yield little practical benefit without frequent releases that can drive revenue or customer feedback. Yet, attempting to do so via a set of interlocking, manual, IT processes is likely to yield complexity, errors, cost, delays and frustration—the very antithesis of continuous delivery, where software deployment is intended to be a frequent, non-event. And, these problems are only exacerbated with microservices. Modern DevOps, instead relies on software tools that deliver automation and consistency in order to release functionality with speed and reliability.

Using GitLab, CloudBees, JFrog, And Pivotal Cloud Foundry Together

As leading platforms in their space, GitLab, CloudBees Jenkins Platform, and JFrog Artifactory provide a toolchain for building continuous application delivery pipelines. While these market leading, full-featured, enterprise ready tools provide a critical foundation for this task, deploying and managing them reliably at scale in an enterprise environment takes additional effort. This is what their integration with PCF provides—managed services with zero overhead for deploying, configuring, updating, and maintaining high availability. Underneath Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s hood, BOSH powers the infrastructure automation engine that turns unreliable infrastructure into always-on, highly available services. It also powers configuration and no-downtime update processes. On top of BOSH, Pivotal Ops Manager provides the user-facing, point-and-click, “it just works” experience.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery for Cloud-Native Applications

Although these partner platforms can be used individually, their full value is unlocked when customers assemble and configure them into an application delivery pipeline to rapidly and reliably transform source code into tested, deployed bits. Starting with source code management at the head of the application delivery pipeline, GitLab, whose product is used by over 100,000 organizations, provides GitLab Enterprise—a distributed version control system based on open-source Git. Designed for large numbers of users and repositories, GitLab Enterprise also supports collaborative workflows for application development and release with issue tracking, code reviews, wiki, and activity feed functionality.

The next stage in the application delivery pipeline is powered by CloudBees Jenkins Platform, the continuous integration (CI) and delivery automation engine that constitutes the linchpin for the application delivery pipeline. Leveraging just a few of its 1000+ plugins, the DevOps team can assemble the application delivery pipeline that takes input from GitLab and JFrog Artifactory, builds the release, and tests applications before deploying them to PCF. Other plugins can enable authentication and role-based access using PCF’s User Account and Authentication (UAA) service. The CloudBees Jenkins service further supports scaling CI infrastructure and sharing it across projects.

Finally, build outputs can also be pushed to JFrog Artifactory for release management. As the first, and only, universal artifact repository manager on the market, JFrog Artifactory fully supports software packages created by any language or technology. JFrog Artifactory, as both the source and destination of binary artifacts for the CloudBees Jenkins driven build process, provides the system of record for versioning and release management. Accessible through a web interface as well as REST APIs, JFrog Artifactory also provides robust query features.

The Key To Continuous Delivery

Although a critical critical element of continuous delivery, the ability to build, test and deploy code quickly and reliably via this toolchain is only half the story. Continuous delivery is a business goal and measured in the delivery of software functionality to customers, not in the delivery of bits to machines. As such, a holistic interpretation of continuous delivery must expand to include production concerns for applications. Only when deployed software can remain scalable, highly available, secure, and updateable in production—all without downtime—should it be deemed “delivered.”

Not only does PCF provide such operational excellence for the applications in production, but it also does so for the GitLab, CloudBees Jenkins and JFrog Artifactory services themselves. Integrating these services for streamlined delivery of code with PCF provides a reliable, turnkey, end-to-end platform for continuous delivery. It’s what enables Pivotal customers to get ideas from conception to production in less than a day, which in this day and age, is a truly strategic advantage.

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About the Author

Karun Bakshi

Karun Bakshi drives Pivotal Cloud Foundry® product marketing. He has held roles spanning engineering, product management, product/platform marketing and business development at Lockheed Martin, Oracle and Microsoft.

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