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Walmart shakes up application lifecycle management

When you think cloud computing platforms, do you think Walmart? I certainly didn’t. That’s changing.

In a WalmartLabs blog post, Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart Global eCommerce and Tim Kimmet, VP of Platform and Systems, announced that following more than two years of development and testing, the company is making its OneOps cloud management and application lifecycle management platform available to the open source community. Talk about pricing rollbacks. If you’re inclined to take a dive in, you can download the source code from GitHub.

Whatever you think of Walmart as a company, the company has long been a leader in advancing and leveraging technology in the retail industry. As a former director of point-of-sale systems at two national retailers, I saw the technology move from Kimball punch tickets to OCR-A to barcode, RFID, and beyond. Behind that are warehousing systems, sales analysis for merchandise replenishment, and much more. Today, with smartphones and omnichannel marketing strategies, shopping is a vastly different experience than it was even just a decade ago. OneOps is used to manage the Walmart and Sam’s Club e-commerce sites.

But, what WalmartLabs is doing is not just about retail, it’s about any organization that relies on the cloud for its IT needs. Add to that the idea of eliminating cloud provider vendor lock-in, and we might be in for quite a shake-up.

It appears a key benefit of OneOps is the ability for cloud users to avoid vendor lock-in to any one cloud provider. In the words of King and Kimmet, developers can use OneOps to “test and switch between different cloud providers to take advantage of better pricing, technology and scalability.” Impressive. One promise of the cloud has been ease of portability, but, in practice, that’s often not the case.

Four clouds are currently supported, including OpenStack, Rackspace, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services. CenturyLink support is said to be on the way. Nearly three dozen development products are currently supported, including Tomcat, Node.js, Docker, Ruby, Java, and JBoss, to name a few.

Other features include auto-scaling, metrics instrumentation, auto-healing with automatic instance replacement, and perhaps most important, the idea of out-of-the box readiness for multiple public and private cloud infrastructure providers.

What do you think about this? Would you try it out and perhaps place your business’s existence in the hands of software from Walmart? It’s going to be a fascinating ride. Share your thoughts about this, we’d like to hear from you.