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DevOps pros move beyond SaaS with continuous delivery tools

DevOps shops are progressive, but some still prefer to deploy continuous delivery tools behind their own firewalls for added security and performance.

Enterprise DevOps shops are evaluating new editions of continuous delivery tools, which can now be deployed behind...

their firewalls for added security and, in some cases, better performance.

DevOps tools that were offered primarily as software as a service (SaaS) have begun to offer new user-deployable options this month in an effort to appeal to larger shops that are beginning to streamline their development processes, but are less likely to deploy services in the public cloud. Shippable, CloudBees and CircleCI all reached beyond SaaS this month; CloudBees has an enterprise edition that was already deployable on premises, but is now blurring categorical lines with a new Private SaaS Edition.

One traditional enterprise shop currently using the Atlassian Bamboo continuous delivery tool behind its on-premises firewall is eyeing a Jenkins-based setup, using CloudBees' new Private SaaS Edition, which blends auto-scaling and self-healing features with the ability for DevOps pros to deploy it on premises and deliver it as a service to developers within an organization.

This "best of both worlds" approach appeals to Mario Cruz, director at Watsco Ventures, an HVAC distributor based in Coconut Grove, Fla. Cruz used CloudBees in a previous job and is looking to bring it on premises at Watsco to meet security requirements, while easing the continuous delivery process.

The general appeal of Jenkins, on which CloudBees is based, lies in its widespread open source community, Cruz said.

"If you want to use it for something weird you haven't used it for, it probably already exists, versus in Bamboo, it has to be by Atlassian," Cruz said.

CloudBees' Private SaaS Edition will hopefully ease some of the headaches with running a raw Jenkins server in-house, according to Cruz.

Another company with a sizable API built on premises with Ruby is interested in Shippable's latest release, which includes an adapter to deploy the software in private clouds without writing complex infrastructure code and can improve performance.  

Packet, a New York-based bare-metal hosted server provider, uses a number of packages with its API that get pulled down with each release. Tests on it are extensive; developers sometimes waited 20 to 25 minutes for SaaS-based Shippable tests to run, according to Aaron Welch, the firm's co-founder and senior vice president. "Even if you only do that every other day, your whole team is tapping their fingers waiting. And then if the build fails, they're waiting again," he said.

The new edition allows Packet to deploy the software on its fleet of bare-metal servers, which has brought the time API builds take down to about five or six minutes  -- and that's "a huge difference," he said. "If you think back to the last year of waiting 25 minutes versus five, how much time we spend and potentially now have saved by moving to the self-hosted version," Welch said.

Security-conscious shops also see appeal in continuous integration and continuous delivery tools that can be deployed in private clouds on premises or on cloud providers' infrastructures, and enterprise IT falls squarely into this target audience, according to Baron Schwartz, founder and CEO of VividCortex, a database monitoring SaaS provider based in Charlottesville, Va., which is also pondering a move into on-premises software with its own product to appeal to larger enterprise shops.

"People will rent things for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a year, but as you cross into the six and seven figures, you get fewer of those," Schwartz said.

VividCortex also insists on user-deployable software for the continuous delivery portion of its DevOps toolchain, which is currently done within an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, with a Jenkins setup. But that can be unwieldy, Schwartz admitted.

"I don't think Jenkins is anybody's favorite system to work with," Schwartz said. "It really takes a lot of care and feeding relative to other parts of our infrastructure." For example, about half the time, it's the Jenkins server causing a warning in VividCortex's environment about disk usage or a server that's using too high a percentage of CPU.

However, Jenkins is highly customizable and can run within VividCortex's VPC, which has made it a must-have part of the company's DevOps toolchain. CircleCI Enterprise also can be modified using shell scripts, but Schwartz said more investigation is needed to decide if it's a complete replacement or not.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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