Welcome!

DevOps Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Sebastian Kruk, Sandi Mappic, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: DevOps Journal, SOA & WOA, .NET, Open Source, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, SDN Journal

DevOps Journal: Article

Tackling the Need for Speed and Agility

Network virtualization eases developer and operations snafus in the mobile and cloud era

As developers are pressured to produce mobile and distributed cloud apps ever faster and with more network unknowns, the older methods of software quality control can lack sufficient predictability.

And as Agile development means faster iterations and a constant stream of updates, newer means of automated testing of the apps in near-production realism prove increasingly valuable.

Fortunately, a tag-team of service and network virtualization for testing has emerged just as the mobile and cloud era requires unprecedented focus on DevOps benefits and rapid quality assurance.

BriefingsDirect had an opportunity to learn first-hand how Shunra Software and HP have joined forces to extend the capabilities of service virtualization for testing at the recent HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona.

Learn here how Shunra Software uses service virtualization to help its developer users improve the distribution, creation, and lifecycle of software applications from Todd DeCapua, Vice President of Channel Operations and Services at Shunra Software, based in Philadelphia. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: There are a lot of trends affecting software developers. They have mobile on their minds. They have time constraints issues. They have to be faster, better, and cheaper along the apps lifecycle way. What among the trends is most important for developers?

DeCapua

DeCapua: One of the biggest ones -- especially around innovation and thinking about results, specifically business results -- is Agile. Agile development is something that, fortunately, we've had an opportunity to work with quite a bit. Our capabilities are all structured around not only what you talked about with cloud and mobile, but we look at things like the speed, the quality, and ultimately the value to the customers.

We’re really focusing on these business results, which sometimes get lost, but I try to always go back to them. We need to focus on what's important to the business, what's important to the customer, and then maybe what's important to IT. How does all that circle around to value?

Gardner: With mobile we have many more networks, and people are grasping at how to attain quality before actually getting into production. How does service virtualization come to bear on that?

Distributed devices

DeCapua: As you look at almost every organization today, something is distributed. Their customers might be on mobile devices out in the real world, and so are distributed. They might be working remotely from home. They might have a distribution center or a truck that has a mobile device on it.

There are all these different pieces. You’re right. Network is a significant part that unfortunately many organizations have failed to notice and failed to consider, as they do any type of testing.

Network virtualization gives you that capability. Where service virtualization comes into play is looking at things like speed and quality. What if the services are not available? Service virtualization allows you to then make them available to your developers.

In the early stage, where Shunra has been able to really play a huge difference in these organizations is by bringing network virtualization in with service virtualization. We’re able to recreate their production environments with 100 percent scale -- all prior to production.

When we think about the value to the business, now you’re able to deliver the product working. So, it is about the speed to market, quality of product, and ultimately value to your customer and to your business.

Gardner: And another constituency that we should keep in mind are those all-important operators. They’re also dealing with a lot of moving parts these days -- transformation, modernization, and picking and choosing different ways to host their data centers. How do they fit into this and how does service virtualization cut across that continuum to improve the lives of operators?

Service virtualization and network virtualization can benefit them is by being able to recreate these scenarios.

DeCapua: You’re right, because as the delivery has sped up through things like Agile, it's your operations team that is sitting there and ultimately has to be the owners of these applications. Service virtualization and network virtualization can benefit them by being able to recreate these in-production scenarios.

Unfortunately, there are still some reactive actions required in production today, so you’re going to have a production incident. But, you can now understand the network in production, capture those conditions, and recreate that in the test environment. You can also do the same for the services.

We now have the ability to quickly and easily recreate a production incident in a prior-to-production environment. The operations team can be part of the team that's fixing it, because again, the ultimate question from CIOs is, “How can you make sure this never happens again?”

We now have the way to quickly and confidently recreate incidents and fix it the first time, not having to change code in production, on the fly. That is one of the scariest moments in any of the times when I've been at the customer site or when I was an employee and had to watch that happen.

Agile iterations

Gardner: As you mentioned earlier, with Agile we’re seeing many more iterations on applications as they need to be rapidly improved or changed. How does service and network virtualization aid in being able to produce many more iterations of an application, but still maintain that high quality?

DeCapua: One of our customers actually told us that -- prior to leveraging network virtualization with service virtualization -- he was doing 80 percent of his testing in-production, simply because he knew the shortcomings, and he needed to test it, but he had no way of re-creating it. Now, let's think about Agile. Let's think about how we shift and get the proven enterprise tools in the developer’s hands sooner, more often, so that we can drive quality early in the process.

That's where these two components play a critical role. As you look at it more specifically and go just a hair deeper, how in integrated environments can you provide continuous development and continuous deployment? And with all that automated testing that you’re already doing, how you can incorporate performance into that? Or, as I call it, how do you “build performance in” from the beginning?

As a business person, a developer, a business analyst, or a Scrum Master, how is it that you’re building performance into your user scenarios today? How is it that you’re setting them up for understanding how that feature or function is going to perform? Let's think about it as we’re creating, not once we get two or three sprints into use and we have our hardening sprint, where we’re going to run our performance scenario. Let's do it early, and let's do it often.

Get the proven enterprise tools in the developer’s hands sooner, more often, so that we can drive quality early in the process.

Gardner: If we’re really lucky, we can control the world and the environment that we live in, but more often than not these days, we’re dealing with third-party application programming interfaces (APIs). We’re dealing with outside web services. We have organizational boundaries that are being crossed, but things are happening across that boundary that we can't control.

So, is there a benefit here, too, when we’re dealing with composite applications, where elements of that mixed service character are not available for your insight, but that you need to be able to anticipate and then react quickly should a change occur?

DeCapua: I can't agree with you more. It’s funny, I am kind of laughing here, Dana, because this morning I was riding the metro in Barcelona and before I got to the stop here, I looked down to my phone, because I was expecting a critical email to come in. Lo and behold, my phone pops up a message and says, “We’re sorry, service is unavailable.”

I could clearly see that I had one out of five bars on the Orange network, and I was on the EDGE network. So, it was about a 2.5G connection. I should still have been able to get data, but my phone simply popped up and said, “Sorry, cannot retrieve email because of a poor data connection.”

I started thinking about it some more, and as I was engaging with other folks today at the show, I asked them why is it that the developer of the application found it necessary to alert me three times in a row that it couldn’t get my email because of a poor data connection? Why didn’t it just not wait 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds until it did, and then have it reach out and query it again and pull the data down?

Changing conditions

This is just one very simple example that I had this morning. And you’re right, there are constantly changing conditions in the world. Bandwidth, latency, packet loss and jitter are those conditions that we’re all exposed to every day. If you’re in a BMW driving down the road at 100 miles per hour, that car is now a mobile phone or a mobile device on wheels, constantly in communication. Or if you’re riding the metro or the tube and you have your mobile device on your hands, there are constantly changing conditions.

Network virtualization and service virtualization give you the ability to recreate those scenarios so that you can build that type of resiliency into your applications and, ultimately, the customers have the experience that you want them to have.

Gardner: Todd, tell us about so-called application-performance engineering solutions?

DeCapua: So, application performance engineering (APE) is something that was created within the industry over a number of years. It's meant to be a methodology and an approach. Shunra plays a role in that.

A lot of people had thought about it as testing. Then people thought about it as performance testing. At the next level, many of us in the industry have defined it is application engineering. It’s a lot more than just that, because you need to dive behind the application and understand the in’s and the out’s. How does everything tie together?

Understanding APE will help you to reduce those types of production incidents.

You’d mentioned some of the composite applications and the complexities there -- and I’m including the endpoints or the devices or mobile devices connecting through it. Now, you introduce cloud into the equation, and it gets 10 times worse.

Thinking about APE, it's more of an art and a skill. There is a science behind it. However, having that APE background knowledge and experience gives you the ability to go into these composite apps, go into these cloud deployments, and leverage the right tools and the right process to be able to quickly understand and optimize the solutions.

Gardner: Why aren’t the older scripting and test-bed approaches to quality control good enough? Why can't we keep doing what we've been doing?

DeCapua: In the United States recently, October 1 of 2013, there was a large healthcare system being rolled out across the country. Unfortunately, they used the old testing methodologies and have had some significant challenges. HP and Shunra were both engaged on October 2 to assist.

Understanding APE will help you to reduce those types of production incidents. All due to inaccurate results in the test environment, using the current methodologies, about 50 percent of our customers come to us in a crisis mode. They say, “We just had this issue, I know that you told us this is going to happen, but we really need your help now.”

They’re also thinking about how to shift and how to build performance in all these components -- just have it built in, have it be automatic, and get the results that are accurate.

Coming together

Gardner: Of course HP has service virtualization, you have network virtualization. How are they coming together? Explain the relationship and how Shunra and HP work together?

DeCapua: To many people's surprise, this relationship is more than a decade old. Shunra’s network-virtualization capability has, for a long time, been built in to HP LoadRunner, also is now being built into HP Performance Center.

There are other capabilities that we have that are built into their Unified Functional Testing (UFT) products. In addition, within service virtualization, we’re now building that product into there. It’s one that, when you think about anything that has some sort of distribution or network involved, network virtualization needs to come into play.

Some people have a hard time initially understanding the service virtualization need, but a very simple example I often use is an organization like a bank. They’ll have a credit check as you’re applying for a loan. That credit check is not going to be a service that the bank creates. They’re going to outsource it to one of the many credit-check services. There is a network involved there.

In your test environment, you need to recreate that and take that into consideration as a part of your end-to-end testing, whether it's functional, performance, or load. It doesn’t matter.

In your test environment, you need to recreate that and take that into consideration as a part of your end-to-end testing, whether it's functional, performance, or load.

As we think about Shunra, network virtualization and the very tight partnership that we've had with HP for service virtualization, as well as their ability to virtualize the users, it's been an OEM relationship. Our R and D teams sit together as they’re doing the development so that this is a seamless product for the HP customer to be able to get the benefit and value for their business and for their customers.

Gardner: Let's talk a little bit about what you get when you do this right. It seems to me the obvious point is getting to the problem sooner, before you’re in production, extending across network variables, across other composite application-type variables. But, I’m going to guess that there are some other benefits that we haven't yet hit on.

So, when you've set up you're testing, when you have virtualization as your tool, what happens in terms of paybacks?

DeCapua: There are many benefits there, which we have already covered. There are dozens more that we could get into. One that I would highlight, being able to pull all the different pieces that we've been talking about, are shorter release times.

TechValidate did a survey in February of 2013. The findings were very compelling in that they found a global bank was able to speed up their deployment or application delivery by 30 to 40 percent. What does that mean for that organization as compared to their competitor? If you can get to market 30 to 40 percent faster, it means millions or billions of dollars over time. Talk about numbers of customers or brands, it's a significant play there.

Rapid deployment

There are other things like rapid deployment. As we think about Agile and mobile, it's all about how fast we get this feature function out, leveraging service virtualization in a greater way, and reducing associated costs.

In the example that I shared, the customer was able to virtualize the users, virtualize the network, and virtualize the services. Prior to that, he would never have been able to justify the cost of rebuilding a production environment for test. Through user virtualization, network virtualization, and service virtualization, he was able to get to 100 percent at a fraction of the cost.

Time and time again we mention automation. This is a key piece of how you can test early, test often, ultimately driving these accurate results and getting to the automated optimization recommendations.

Gardner: What comes next in terms of software productivity? What should organizations be thinking in terms of vision?

Slow down

DeCapua: I see Agile, mobile, and cloud. There are some significant risks out in the marketplace today. As organizations look to leverage these capabilities to benefit their business and the customers, maybe they need to just slow down for a moment and not create this huge strategy, but go after “How can I increase my revenue stream by 20 percent in the next 90 days?” Another one that I've had great success with is, “What is that highest visibility, highest risk project that you have in your organization today?”

As I look at The Wall Street Journal, and I read the headlines everyday, it's scary. But, what's coming in the future? We can all look into our crystal balls and say that this is what it is. Why not focus on one or two small things of what we have now, and think about how we’re mitigating our risk of  looking at larger organizations that are making commitments to migrate critical applications into the cloud?

You’re biting off a fairly significant risk, which that there isn’t a lot there to catch you when you do it wrong, and, quite frankly, nearly everybody is doing it wrong. What if we start small and find a way to leverage some of these new capabilities? We can actually do it right, and then start to realize some of the benefits from cloud, mobile, and other channels that your organization is looking to.

Gardner: The role of software keeps increasing in many organizations. It's becoming the business itself and, as a fundamental part of the business, requires lots of tender love and care.

The more that we can think about that and tune ourselves and make ourselves lean and focused on delivering better quality products, we’re going to be in the winning circle more often.

DeCapua: You got it. The only other bit that I would add on to that is looking at the World Quality Report that was presented this morning by HP, Capgemini, and Sogeti, they highlighted that there is an increased spend from the IT budget, and a rather significant increase in spend from last year in testing.

It’s exactly what you’re saying. Organizations didn’t enter the market thinking of themselves as a software house. But time and time again, we’re seeing how people who treat what they do as a software house ultimately is improving not only life for their internal customers, but also their external customers.

So I think you’re right. The more that we can think about that and tune ourselves and make ourselves lean and focused on delivering better quality software products, we’re going to be in the winning circle more often.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

Cloud Expo Latest Stories
14th International Cloud Expo, held on June 10–12, 2014 at the Javits Center in New York City, featured three content-packed days with a rich array of sessions about the business and technical value of cloud computing, Internet of Things, Big Data, and DevOps led by exceptional speakers from every sector of the IT ecosystem. The Cloud Expo series is the fastest-growing Enterprise IT event in the past 10 years, devoted to every aspect of delivering massively scalable enterprise IT as a service.
Hardware will never be more valuable than on the day it hits your loading dock. Each day new servers are not deployed to production the business is losing money. While Moore’s Law is typically cited to explain the exponential density growth of chips, a critical consequence of this is rapid depreciation of servers. The hardware for clustered systems (e.g., Hadoop, OpenStack) tends to be significant capital expenses. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mason Katz, CTO and co-founder of StackIQ, to discuss how infrastructure teams should be aware of the capitalization and depreciation model of these expenses to fully understand when and where automation is critical.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Hinkle, Senior Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix Systems Inc., will provide overview of the open source software that can be used to deploy and manage a cloud computing environment. He will include information on storage, networking(e.g., OpenDaylight) and compute virtualization (Xen, KVM, LXC) and the orchestration(Apache CloudStack, OpenStack) of the three to build their own cloud services. Speaker Bio: Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix Systems Inc. He joined Citrix as a result of their July 2011 acquisition of Cloud.com where he was their Vice President of Community. He is currently responsible for Citrix open source efforts around the open source cloud computing platform, Apache CloudStack and the Xen Hypervisor. Previously he was the VP of Community at Zenoss Inc., a producer of the open source application, server, and network management software, where he grew the Zenoss Core project to over 10...
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
As more applications and services move "to the cloud" (public or on-premise) cloud environments are increasingly adopting and building out traditional enterprise features. This in turn is enabling and encouraging cloud adoption from enterprise users. In many ways the definition is blurring as features like continuous operation, geo-distribution or on-demand capacity become the norm. NuoDB is involved in both building enterprise software and using enterprise cloud capabilities. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Seth Proctor, CTO at NuoDB, Inc., will discuss the experiences from building, deploying and using enterprise services and suggest some ways to approach moving enterprise applications into a cloud model.
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based applications and content within their business models are reaping huge benefits by directly leveraging cloud-based mapping and analysis capabilities within their existing enterprise investments. The ArcGIS mapping platform includes cloud-based content management and information resources to more widely, efficiently, and affordably deliver real-time actionable information and analysis capabilities to your organization.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is – how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, will give the audience an understanding of common mistakes businesses make when transitioning to SaaS; how to avoid them; and how to build a profitable and scalable SaaS business.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia, the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between personal and professional social, mobile and cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve productivity, reduce collaboration costs, and increase the overall enterprise value by bringing collaboration and infrastructure solutions to the cloud.
Cloud computing started a technology revolution; now DevOps is driving that revolution forward. By enabling new approaches to service delivery, cloud and DevOps together are delivering even greater speed, agility, and efficiency. No wonder leading innovators are adopting DevOps and cloud together! In his session at DevOps Summit, Andi Mann, Vice President of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies, will explore the synergies in these two approaches, with practical tips, techniques, research data, war stories, case studies, and recommendations.
Enterprises require the performance, agility and on-demand access of the public cloud, and the management, security and compatibility of the private cloud. The solution? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Simone Brunozzi, VP and Chief Technologist(global role) for VMware, will explore how to unlock the power of the hybrid cloud and the steps to get there. He'll discuss the challenges that conventional approaches to both public and private cloud computing, and outline the tough decisions that must be made to accelerate the journey to the hybrid cloud. As part of the transition, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service model will enable enterprise IT to build services beyond their data center while owning what gets moved, when to move it, and for how long. IT can then move forward on what matters most to the organization that it supports – availability, agility and efficiency.
Every healthy ecosystem is diverse. This is especially true in cloud ecosystems, where portability and interoperability are more important than old enterprise models of proprietary ownership. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mark Baker, Server Product Manager at Canonical/Ubuntu, will discuss how single vendors used to take the lead in creating and delivering technology, but in a cloud economy, where users want tools of their preference, when and where they need them, it makes no sense.