UrbanCode took the first steps towards creating a “DevOps” platform with yesterday’s release of UrbanDeploy, software for automating the processes and execution of software deployment.
The platform represents the next generation of what AnthillPro was, according to company president Maciej Zawadzki. UrbanBuild, the next release for the platform that will be the renamed next version of AnthillPro, is in the works, he added, with other features expected before the end of the year.
Users of AnthillPro know that the software also included deployment features, but Zawadzki said that, from a mindshare perspective, most people think of it as “build” software. But build software has become somewhat commoditized in the market, he said, and customers are just looking for the automated deployment piece.
UrbanDeploy is standalone distributed process automation software that marries generic deployment processes with specific environment definitions, overcoming such differences as app server configurations, passwords, server topology, and whether or not there is a load balancer in the production environment but not in the test environment, according to UrbanCode’s lead consultant Eric Minick.
“It’s one thing to have distribution automated,” he said, “but adapting to the environment and coordinating the pieces is where the hard thing is.”
UrbanDeploy gives users the ability to manage the orchestration necessary among content, middleware and database tiers, and the release, Minick said. The software also enables users to record what is currently in the environment—a taking of inventory, so to speak—and to feed that information back into the process automation, effectively making that more intelligent.
The software also introduces a new artifact repository, so organizations can ensure they have the artifacts necessary to deploy and what version they are, Minick said. Current industry practices include keeping artifacts in a number of different locations, such as file systems and source-control systems.
“There are artifacts all over the place with no control over people who tamper with the artifacts” during the build and test steps, Zawadzki said. “If they’re using a file system and a name, there’s no guarantee [the artifact] wasn’t changed” during the build and test phase.
UrbanDeploy performs cryptographic caching of artifacts, essentially guaranteeing that what is deployed into production is the artifact that passed all integrations and tests, he said.
Companies using more traditional build tools are finding it difficult to achieve “continuous delivery,” the hot new term for rapidly releasing software into production. To do this, Zawadzki said, you need the development and operations teams using the same tools, so artifacts, tests and integrations can be maintained and reused.
“You have to break down the walls between these teams,” he said. “Otherwise, there’s a handoff that usually includes a 50-page Word document with screenshots” that takes a weekend to implement. “We want to give these people their weekends back,” he said.
UrbanDeploy has formal integrations with AnthillPro, the open-source Hudson build tool, and Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server. But Minick said that UrbanDeploy can work with almost all other build systems, which would drop off an artifact to be recovered by the deployment tool.