How Does a Eucalyptus Private Cloud Enable Better Continuous Integration?

By Colby Dyess | March 17, 2014

Web applications have come a long way in a short time. In the past, software was often quickly developed and launched, but its bugs weren't ironed out until after the fact, due to the tediousness of most testing procedures. Developers and testers had to click around an application to find bugs, but by the time that they had discovered the main problems, they might already be on the verge of having to add new features that would in turn require additional screening and troubleshooting.

This ongoing cycle led to numerous lost man-hours and slowed down application deployment, all while costing organizations way more money that it should have. Teams were also disconnected from each other - this was an era before DevOps became a viable practice for streamlining processes and promoting agility.

"Traditionally, operational departments only cared about production and there seemed to be no communication between them and testing teams," author and software testing expert Ruud Teunissen told ITWeb. [H]istorical testing practices were also designed to optimize the operation of large, centralized testing groups using a testing center of excellence model, but struggled to support the rapid delivery of agile software development where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration across all functional teams."

Running Continuous Integration on a Eucalyptus Cloud

Fortunately, continuous integration eventually entered the scene, enabling routine daily merging of developer copies with the mainline. Code could be deployed and tested in small batches, rather than one large chunk. Amenities such as build servers and automated testing emerged to facilitate more rapid development and testing, and organizations overhauled their infrastructure to support this new state of affairs, often tapping into public cloud resources such as Amazon Web Services to scale their environments.

Companies can continue to improve their continuous integration efforts with an AWS-compatible private cloud from Eucalyptus, which features compatibility with multiple AWS APIs, including EC2, S3, EBS, IAM, Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling and CloudWatch. For example, leading continuous integration utility Jenkins is often used with the EC2 plugin to launch worker nodes on AWS for virtually unlimited capacity, and with Eucalyptus the setup is mostly the same. Users can get better control and consistency in their environment, as well as more predictable costs, while continuing to utilize the automation, continuous integration, build and testing tools that they are used to.

How do organizations know if continuous integration, especially on a private or hybrid cloud, is right for them? There are several key bottlenecks to look out for that may indicate that that the time is right to take up a solution such as Eucalyptus to enable DevOps and continuous integration.

For starters, if a project or product has multiple developers working on it, it's possible that each one may be storing code on a separate machine, creating issues with consistency and communication. By providing a single repository, continuous integration makes it easier to keep code up-to-date and automatically test it with build servers. This dramatically shortens the debugging process and allows DevOps teams to focus on adding new features instead of fixing old ones.

Doing so also saves money - software bugs already cost the U.S. economy almost $60 billion per year, but continuous integration can help. It also encourages better organizational structure. Eventually, companies may gravitate toward DevOps as a complement to continuous integration and ultimately refocus their energies on building good software.

"You don't have clearly defined development and operations roles [in DevOps]," wrote Jason Tee for TheServerSide.com. "You just have a group of people working together to deliver software. You're continuously delivering software through a pipeline. In a way, that's what DevOps is really about. He encourages organizations to go back to a small group mindset, allowing engineers and operations teams to work so closely together that there's a blurring between the two."

Any company that believes in automation is also well positioned to benefit from continuous integration. Manual testing is prone to error and doesn't scale well to keep up with rapid application development cycles. Instead, teams can use automated testing on a Eucalyptus cloud, deploying a build in seconds with as little as a single line of code.

The entire endeavor moves forward at a brisker pace because quality assurance teams don't have to sit around, waiting for code to be deployed before they can start testing. Bugs can be identified during development through regular tests that provide team members with feedback about errors. This setup addresses the high overhead of having to hunt for problems later on. Both speed of deployment and quality of software are increased, even as development related-expenses are trimmed.

At the end of the day, continuous integration also provides excellent visibility into projects because team members often create API-like documentation on new commits, making it easier for others in the organization to review the quality of the code. This practice perpetuates the benefits of continuous integration. With a Eucalyptus cloud, teams can pair the hardware they prefer with leading software tools and AWS APIs and create a superior environment for DevOps teams.

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