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Why Jenkins is becoming the engine of devops

Eric Knorr | March 21, 2016
The CEO of CloudBees, which offers the open source Jenkins project as a cloud service, explains Jenkins's appeal and why it's central to devops

Docker is one of those tools, and Docker in conjunction with Jenkins is having a profound effect on development teams. Everyone knows that Docker streamlines development and makes deployment vastly easier, but Labourey observes that it also helps keep developers honest: They can no longer blame some misconfiguration of the development environment when a build crashes and burns. On a physical machine the development environment gradually becomes corrupted, inadvertently causing builds to break. But when you're coding on top of a pristine Docker image, you have only your own flawed code to blame when builds won't run.

Together Jenkins and its integrated ecosystem provide the coordinating software infrastructure for agile development and more broadly form "the core of the devops initiative," says Labourey.

Getting there from here

All this automation and devops efficiency sound great, but what about organizations that have barely wrapped their heads around agile development? Labourey offers advice for wading into CI/CD:

I think the best way to do that is to start small. Pick a project. Don't say, "OK, now we're a continuous delivery shop, everything goes this way." Start with a team that's willing, that's maybe more flexible than other teams, maybe newer team members, less entrenched into the existing way of doing things. Pick an easy project. Don't try to use that as a way to say if that one works, everything will work. Don't try to fail; try to succeed. Pick a willing team, pick an easy project, get there. This team is going to be your best sales guy because now you can show that it works. They can talk about how their job got better because, frankly, the old way is boring.

Part of the process, notes Labourey, is to "extract the knowledge that sits quietly in people's brains and put it into the pipeline as logic." That doesn't happen overnight. Often, development organizations begin by hammering out CI and work their way toward CD over time.

Development organizations tend to have widely varied, highly specific requirements. So CloudBees offers both a generic, subscription-based SaaS version run by CloudBees and a "private SaaS" version, which customers can deploy on either AWS or Azure (or locally on OpenStack) and customize it to their heart's content.

It's hard to overstate the importance of orchestrating, automating, and streamlining the development process. CI/CD is central to devops, and a successful devops implementation in turn has implications that extend beyond IT to business itself. Continuously improving software continuously improves products and services. Tesla, for example, had a serious setback with one of its models catching fire -- and rolling out a software upgrade fixed the problem overnight.

"It's interesting if you get 10 percent more efficiency; if you spend $100 million a year in IT, well great -- you have $10 million you can spend somewhere else," says Labourey. "But the real benefit is when the business realizes that by leveraging those tools and that way of doing things, they can increase sales by 10 percent." 

Source: Infoworld 


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