Tag: Flux7 DevOps Blog

Flux7 and AWS Present High Performance Computing Immersion Day

Flux7 and AWS Present High Performance Computing Immersion Day

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from Flux7 DevOps Blog

Flux7 Case Study: Technology’s Role in the Agile Enterprise

Flux7 Case Study: Technology’s Role in the Agile Enterprise

Technology in the Agile EnterpriseThe transition to becoming an Agile Enterprise is one that touches every part of the organization — from strategy to structure and process to technology. In our journey to share the story of how we at Flux7 have moved through the process, today we will discuss how we have adopted specific supporting technologies to further our agile goals. (In case you missed them, check out our first two articles on choosing a Flatarchy and our OKR journey.)

While achieving an Agile Enterprise must be rooted in the business and must be accompanied by an agile culture (more on that in our next article in the series), a technology platform that supports agility can be a key lever to successful Agile transformation.

At Flux7, this means both technologies that support communication and learning for teams to be agile and agile technology automation. Flux7 uses a variety of tools, each with its own specialty for helping us communicate, collaborate and stay transparent. We’ll first take a look at each of these tools and the role it plays, and then we’ll share a couple of ways in which some of these tools come together to create agility.

Agile Communication

As a 100% remote organization, communication is vital to corporate success. As a result, we use several tools to communicate, share files, documents, ideas and more.

  • Slack enables us to communicate in near real-time sharing files, updates, links and so much more. Slack is a go-to resource for everything from quick questions to team updates and accolades.
  • OfficeVibe allows employees to communicate feedback to the organization anonymously. At Flux7 we take feedback gathered from the OfficeVibe LeoBot very seriously and aim for top scores as a measure of our success in creating a thriving culture.
  • Gmail is used for less real-time communication needs, and for communicating with external parties (though we also use Slack channels with our customers); Google Calendar communicates availability and; Google Meet is used widely for internal and external meetings.
Agile Collaboration

Working closely together from a distance may sound antithetical, but with the help of several tools, our teams are able to collaborate effectively, boosting efficiency and productivity. Our favored tools for collaboration are:

  • Trello helps us collaborate on OKRs and customer engagements and is where our teams are able to visualize, plan, organize and facilitate short term and long term tasks.
  • Google Drive allows us to collaborate in real-time as our documents are automatically saved so that nothing can ever be lost. In fact, Flux7 has a main door to Google Drive called the Flux7 Library, which is where all of our non-personnel resources and documents are stored. This is just one way we ensure resources are at employees’ fingertips, helping us to stay transparent, agile and innovative.
  • Zapier automates workflows for us. For example, we make extensive use of its Trello PowerUps to automate things like creating new Trello cards from Gmail messages or updating Trello cards with new Jira issues.
  • GitHub Repositories host and track changes to our code-related project files and GitHub’s Wiki tools allow us to host documentation for others to use and contribute. In fact, the Flux7 Wiki page is hosted in a Git Wiki. The Flux7 Wiki is home to a wide variety of resources — from a Flux7 Glossary to book reviews, PeopleOps tools and more.
  • HubSpot is a marketing automation and CRM solution where sales and marketing teams communicate and collaborate on everything from new sales leads to sharing sales collateral.

Agile Metrics and Measurements
At Flux7 our mantra is to experiment more, fail cheap, and measure results accurately. Helping us to measure accurately are:

  • Google analytics gives Flux7 valuable detail about our website visitors, giving us clear insights into what our visitors care most about. HubSpot analytics also gives us website data. As our CRM, when this data is paired with sales pipeline activity data, it gives us an incredibly rich view of the customer journey, helping us hone business strategy.
  • Slack analytics give Flux7 insight into how the team uses Slack. For example, how many messages were sent over the last 30 days, where conversations are happening and more.
Agile Management & More

Continuous learning and growth are central to Flux7’s culture and values of innovation, humbleness, and transparency. As such, we also have the technology to facilitate ongoing learning with:

  • The Flux7 internal e-book library where employees can check out e-books and audiobooks for ongoing education. Flux7 utilizes Overdrive to secure our online Internal Library. Topics range from Marketing and Business to IT and DevOps Instructional Resources. (For more on our Library, please refer to our blog: Flux7 Library Drives Culture of Learning, Sharing)
  • Flux7 also uses BambooHR to store peer feedback; anyone can initiate feedback by asking another peer to provide it. The feedback is stored in BambooHR and only the recipient can see it and turn the feedback into actionable results. BambooHR also contains important files like team assignments, who is on vacation, and recorded All-Hands meetings.
  • We use Okta for single sign-on, LastPass for password management, HubStaff for tracking time on projects, QuickBooks for finance, and more.
Bringing It All Together

IT automation is core to all we do at Flux7 and is instrumental in bringing together many of these tools. To give you an example, forecasting data from HubSpot is automatically sent to Slack with a Zapier integration that allows us to automatically see just-in-time forecasting data. We can share newly closed deals with the broader Flux7 team over Slack this way, too.

We have also integrated Git with Trello such that change notifications are sent as updates to the appropriate Trello card(s), keeping the right team members updated. Trello, in turn, notifies all relevant team members of the updated card information, automatically keeping all team members updated.

At Flux7, we believe in the value of cloud computing and removing levels of management from the process altogether. In fact, we are extremely serverless as a company — with only one server for our website — which allows us to focus less on IT tasks like managing servers and more on delivering value to our customers and employees.

While there are many elements to becoming an Agile Enterprise, technology plays a pivotal role in communication, collaboration, and productivity. As the pace of the market continues to accelerate, agility can only be driven through flexible technologies that help us better anticipate and react to change. Don’t miss the fourth article in our series on the role of culture in building an Agile Enterprise. Subscribe to our blog below and get it direct to your inbox.

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from Flux7 DevOps Blog

IT Modernization and DevOps News Week in Review

IT Modernization and DevOps News Week in Review

IT Modernization DevOps News 13


Last week Werner Vogels, AWS CTO, spelled out in an interview with WSJ CIO Today the Company’s Path to the Cloud Business. A fascinating read, Vogels shares how Amazon’s early IT challenges led to Amazon Web Services, which has become a revenue engine for Amazon. According to the company, AWS has generated $8.4 billion in sales last quarter. A good read if you’re on your own cloud evolution. 

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DevOps News

  • A couple weeks ago we brought you news of Splunk’s SignalFX acquisition. Splunk this week continued its buying spree with an announcement that it will acquire Omnition. Described as a stealth-mode operation, Omnition will give Splunk distributed tracing capabilities for microservice application monitoring.
  • According to a blog announcement, Atlassian is making several updates to its cloud platform including:
    • New premium plans for many of our cloud products with advanced features and support
    • New free plans of Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk, and Jira Core
    • Discounted prices for academic and non-profit customers
    • New tools that strengthen control, security, and trust
  • Pulumi announced GA of version 1.0 of its Infrastructure as Code platform. Pulumi 1.0 includes new capabilities to help development and operations teams overcome organizational silos and grow productivity, reliability and security with familiar programming languages and open-source tools and frameworks.

AWS News

  • AWS launched a large improvement to how AWS Lambda functions work with Amazon VPC networks, updating the service to change the way that functions connect to VPCs. AWS is now leveraging Hyperplane to provide NAT capabilities from the Lambda VPC to customer VPCs. The change in mapping will result in improvements to function startup performance and more efficient usage of elastic network interfaces. The update is rolling out to all existing and new VPC functions, at no additional cost.
  • Amazon EKS made two announcements. The service now allows operators to assign IAM permissions to Kubernetes service accounts, giving pod level access control when running clusters with multiple co-located services. And, Amazon EKS now supports Kubernetes version 1.14.6 for all clusters.
  • Amazon announced that its AWS Config solution now provides automatic remediation. Giving operators the ability to associate remediation actions with AWS Config rules, remediation activities can be automatically taken without manual intervention.
  • Amazon introduced a price reduction for EFS infrequent access storage class. Last week AWS dropped its storage prices for EFS IA by 44%. According to a blog announcement, EFS IA storage prices now start at $0.025/GB-month.
  • Amazon QuickSight has new features for improved asset organization; enhanced anomaly detection capabilities; a new Word Cloud chart type to represent categorical fields; and has added support for Favorites that allow you to bookmark your dashboards and analyses.

Flux7 News

  • Read Flux7’s newest article on, The CIO’s Role in the Making of an Agile Enterprise. Lead, follow or get out of the way. A phrase famously coined by George Patton and later by Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca, it is also an apt prescription for the challenges CIOs face as organizations look to become agile enterprises. With the path to agility often running directly through IT, the CIO stands front and center in an organization’s transition to enterprise-wide agility. Read how CIOs can make the most of this situation.
  • For CIOs and technology leaders looking to dive deeper into leading the transition to an Agile Enterprise, Flux7 has also published a new paper on How CIOs Can Prepare an IT Platform for the Agile Enterprise. Download it today to learn how an agile enterprise architecture that supports agility with IT automation and DevOps best practices can be a key lever to helping IT engage with and improve the business.

Download the Paper Today

Written by Flux7 Labs

Flux7 is the only Sherpa on the DevOps journey that assesses, designs, and teaches while implementing a holistic solution for its enterprise customers, thus giving its clients the skills needed to manage and expand on the technology moving forward. Not a reseller or an MSP, Flux7 recommendations are 100% focused on customer requirements and creating the most efficient infrastructure possible that automates operations, streamlines and enhances development, and supports specific business goals.

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

The CIO’s Role in the Making of an Agile Enterprise

The CIO’s Role in the Making of an Agile Enterprise

CIO Role Agile Enterprise

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

Lead, follow or get out of the way. A phrase famously coined by George Patton and later by Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca, it is also an apt prescription for the challenges CIOs face as organizations look to become agile enterprises. With the path to agility often running directly through IT (as it enables those digital projects the CEO sees as driving competitiveness), the CIO stands front and center in an organization’s transition to enterprise-wide agility.

As the first area to adopt change with the aim of helping the business become an agile enterprise, CIOs have three options:

1. Follow the organization’s lead. These CIOs generally follow hesitantly, resisting change where possible as change is seen as a threat.

2. Get out of the way by moving to a different organization altogether where change does not threaten business as usual.

3. Lead by adopting an agile, servant-leader mindset. These CIOs recognize the incredible opportunity in front of them to guide their company’s digital transformation.

A Seat At The Table

To effectively lead the agile enterprise, CIOs need a seat at the table. Digital transformation can help carve this path in two important ways. First, it can create greater unity between IT and business units — as well as between the CIO and executives who lead these departments. By partnering with other executives to successfully achieve alignment, IT can more directly deliver results to business goals and objectives. As a result, this helps the company gain critical market advantages and exponentially grows the value of the CIO in the process. With a hat tip to Mark Schwartz and his book, A Seat at the Table, we see how the CIO can be a critical part of the value creation engine that helps them attain a seat at the table.

Second, helping the enterprise effectively navigate in today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world contributes dividends to the broader organizational value chain. Digital transformation can help the CIO create business results like reduced project risk and costs, increased software quality and predictability, and, ultimately, faster delivery of products and services to market.

Agile Elements For Success

An agile organization requires both an agile culture and agile technology automation that supports business goals, striking a balance between stability and flexibility. CIOs may operate in a market where they have fallen behind, or they may simply seek to navigate changes happening today. In either case, they need a platform that can quickly adapt to future market forces.

Let’s examine these two elements and how CIOs can embrace them, leading by example:

• Agile culture: McKinsey found in a recent survey that, “The greatest enablers of — or barriers to — a successful agile transformation are leadership and culture.” Seventy-six percent of executives McKinsey surveyed found that transforming the culture was their No. 1 challenge during an agile transformation.

CIOs play an incredibly important leadership role here, setting the right tone from the start. According to a PricewaterhouseCooper survey, 73% of respondents felt that tone from the top influences people in a positive way, and 61% reported that it both enhances the quality of decision making and supports the overall value of the brand. Further reinforcing an agile culture is an agile team, which the CIO should hand-pick.

CIOs should look to create a cross-departmental team with individuals who exhibit traits like cooperation, humility, openness and self-motivation. The team should be empowered to create value for customers (both internal and external) in tight alignment with the business goals. The team should hold frequent reviews with emphasis given to measurable outputs that illustrate business (vs. technical) value.

• Agile IT Platform: As noted earlier, the path to greater agility often begins with digitization projects. A technology platform to support these efforts, and that can expand to address still ambiguous future needs, can be a critical tool for helping IT engage with and improve the business. (It’s worth noting here that a lack of such a platform can hinder business agility, cause shadow IT and undermine an agile culture, which can prevent a company from becoming an agile enterprise.)

The CIO must be holistically engaged when it comes to building an IT Platform due to the strategic importance of IT automation in supporting the agile enterprise. For it is through automation that the team will replace the significant overhead caused by manual jobs with time to spend on strategic, business-impacting work. While automation can be applied in many different forms, CIOs should ultimately look to build an agile IT platform that delivers business values such as bringing products to market faster; growing governance, security and compliance; powering better customer experiences and making it simpler to explore greenfield opportunities.

For example, I had the opportunity to speak with a CIO at a large insurance company. While consumers and shareholders alike view it as an industry leader, the CIO readily sees that it needs to make a digital transition, given forces in the market. The company’s business model makes heavy use of insurance agents to quote and sell coverage. In this model, it takes about a week to sign a new contract. Yet consumers are increasingly moving online to get insurance quotes and even to sign up for coverage — all without the help of a single agent. The CIO knows he needs to digitize and adapt to changing customer behavior, as well as competitors who are digitizing their efforts. The CIO’s leadership in driving digital transformation, and an evolution toward an agile enterprise, is giving the business an avenue to recover lost ground and expand their future competitiveness.

Agile change most often starts with digital transformation, which directly implicates the CIO in a company’s successful transition to an agile enterprise. This hyper-critical role in ensuring agile success may be the biggest career opportunity many CIOs have seen. By aligning IT agility with business goals, leading by example, and setting the right technical stage, CIOs can help their companies effectively navigate the pace of market change, driving unparalleled responsiveness through an agile IT culture and flexible IT platform.

Download the Paper Today

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

IT Modernization and DevOps News Week in Review

IT Modernization and DevOps News Week in Review

Written by Flux7 Labs

Flux7 is the only Sherpa on the DevOps journey that assesses, designs, and teaches while implementing a holistic solution for its enterprise customers, thus giving its clients the skills needed to manage and expand on the technology moving forward. Not a reseller or an MSP, Flux7 recommendations are 100% focused on customer requirements and creating the most efficient infrastructure possible that automates operations, streamlines and enhances development, and supports specific business goals.

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

Hoteliers Grow Customer, Franchisee Value with Technology Transformation

Hoteliers Grow Customer, Franchisee Value with Technology Transformation

Hotelier Technology Transformation Cloud DevOps AgileLegacy systems challenge established hoteliers to effectively innovate and compete with a myriad of market pressures. From OTAs to timeshares and new market entrants like Oyo, hotel executives must manage many moving parts in order to compete for customers, gain and sustain their loyalty. To compete effectively, a strong IT strategy that supports the ability to counteract competitive pressures via innovation is needed. In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at how a few hoteliers transformed their systems in order to innovate and compete, in the process helping address specific business goals.

Increase Customer Acquisition

Since their introduction, OTAs have only grown market share, and are expected to reach 41% of the US market by 2020. To effectively compete for guests, hotels must become — and remain — OTA friendly, both in the US and globally. At a technical level, this means that hotels must evolve their IT processes, creating and modifying APIs that can easily expose inventory data to meet the needs of any travel search site. And, IT processes must be agile and automated in order to continuously feed fresh data to OTAs. 

At one leading hotelier, the technology team needed a process for creating and modifying APIs that could easily expose inventory data to meet the needs of any OTA. DevOps was identified as being able to play a clear role in facilitating agile methodology best practices. Working with our DevOps consulting team, the hotelier applied the Flux7 Enterprise DevOps Framework to provide a foundation for DevOps that now allows the company to rapidly design, build, test and deploy solutions, like APIs for OTAs. In the process, they have been able to accelerate their IT modernization, using freed developer and operational resources to fuel new stages of modernization and innovation. Now the hotel is able to grow its OTA rank and the “billboard effect” by creating and offering special APIs to OTAs that expose more data to the OTA system, continuously offering fresh pricing and room data that OTAs crave.

Launch Dynamic Campaigns

While OTAs play an increasingly important role in customer acquisition, a brand’s website and marketing efforts remain powerful tools for attracting and converting customers. By providing scalable infrastructure and IT automation that increases website agility, hotels can assure a reliable, consistent, and hence positive customer experience.

Moreover, technology teams can play a significant role in revenue generation by contributing to marketing efforts with infrastructure that supports the launch of new campaigns, micro-sites, and experiments. This was just the case at HomeAway where the marketing team came up with a great idea to address a concern that was keeping families at home over the holidays. Prospective customers said that they would travel if it were not for the fact that their children thought that Santa would not find them at Christmas.

As a result, Reroute Santa, a website that would let parents alert Santa of their child’s away-from-home location was born. Working with the AWS consulting team at Flux7, HomeAway was able to launch the campaign to eight different markets and seven different languages around the world while scaling to meet traffic that peaked at different times. Designed for high availability, there was not a single failure over the entire duration of the campaign, allowing it to reach over 300 million unique global viewers.

Retain Franchisees

The special business relationship between brand and franchisee is predicated on the hotel’s ability to help the property owner maximize profits. For hoteliers, that increasingly means making the most of technology to address revenue and operating costs. As brands shift their strategy to ‘real estate light’, competition for franchisees grows, giving property owners more choice – and leverage – in how they list their property.

G6 Hospitality, the parent company of Motel 6 and Studio 6, is undertaking a major transformation of its technology platforms called IT 2.0 which has resulted in the successful move to a fully distributed, multi-cloud platform for distributed reservations, call center, content management capabilities, and more. By transforming its core business systems, G6 is now able to react quickly on behalf of its more than 1,400 locations.

For example, the new cloud-based HotelKey property management system has increased customer satisfaction while decreasing the technology burden on franchisees. As the system that’s used when customers check in to a hotel, the property management system is critical to hotel staff efficiency and the guest experience. The hotelier moved from a traditional on-premise, server-based, hub and spoke architecture solution that required highly customized PCs and several disparate peripherals behind the front desk to the all-new, cloud-based HotelKey property management system. Featuring a highly advanced agile enterprise architecture and an AWS back end, HotelKey is an application that runs on an iPad, making the check-in experience faster, more consistent and more engaging.

With the intuitive and flexible interface, the front desk staff can focus on the guest rather than the traditional, deep PC menus often required to complete the check-in process. Moreover, with fewer hardware components, the HotelKey app is easier to support and maintain. Whereas before the property would have to call central support to diagnose and fix critical hardware failures, (which could result in a lengthy process of ordering, configuring, shipping and reconnecting a system) now properties need only procure a highly-available, off-the-shelf iPad and download the AWS-delivered HotelKey app. With all of their data in the cloud, there is no lengthy reconfiguration to be back up and running—delivering a positive guest experience and resuming operational efficiency.

Increase competitiveness in an asset-lean world to acquire and retain franchisees by offering more revenue opportunities, and optimize operations through digital experiences that reduce overhead and grow data accuracy with technology transformation and an IT Platform that supports the Agile Enterprise.

For further information, download our Hotel Industry Services Guide today or reach out for a quote.

Contact Us for a Quote

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

How to Grow API Security, PCI Compliance with Swagger Specification

How to Grow API Security, PCI Compliance with Swagger Specification

API Security PCI Compliance Swagger SpecificationThe Amazon API Gateway can be used to publicly publish an organization’s APIs. In just a few clicks, or a few lines of code, one can set up an API Gateway proxying all requests from the Internet to a private application (usually custom code running in a private subnet). However, as the API Gateway becomes a 
public entry point into an AWS environment, it is necessary to secure it so that it blocks potentially malicious requests before reaching code. As a result, it is important to reduce risks this entry point causes — such as a data breach — by reducing the exposure of code. Specifically, in today’s blog, we’ll explore how to increase security and PCI compliance by reducing the attack surface of APIs with the Swagger Specification.

 

While the AWS API Gateway is listed as a service in the scope of the AWS PCI compliance program, it does not mean one should keep Amazon’s default PCI implementation settings. PCI DSS v3.2.1 has the following requirement “1.2.1 Restrict inbound and outbound traffic to that which is necessary for the cardholder data environment, and specifically deny all other traffic.” The same requirement applies to HIPAA and many other compliance regulations. To protect the cardholder and their Personally Identifiable Information (PII), it is the responsibility of the business to configure the proper controls to block malicious requests.

Amazon API Gateway

Fig Source: https://aws.amazon.com/api-gateway/

Note that cloud-based projects share responsibility for cloud security. AWS refers to this as a “Shared Responsibility Model” and it’s important to understand where the responsibility of the public cloud provider ends and where yours begins. For example, AWS operates, manages and controls the components from the host OS and virtualization layer down to the physical security of the facilities where it operates. Customers are responsible for the management of guest OSs, application software, AWS WAF and more.

Addressing the Attack Surface

It is a basic security control to only allow the network traffic required for an application to be functional. Hackers should not be allowed to retrieve data from endpoints which are not intentionally part of the application. Security teams commonly refer to this as reducing the attack surface. Compliance is often an output of good security, and by addressing the attack surface, enterprises are able to help achieve regulatory compliance while protecting themselves from unwanted attacks. One significant way one can reduce security risk is by properly configuring elements within the IT infrastructure. Let’s continue on to take a look at how one can achieve this goal with API Gateways.

The API Gateway

As applications are developed, APIs are constantly added, removed and/or modified. Configuring the API Gateway as a proxy is an easy way to make APIs functional as nothing is restricted, and no configuration changes are required when an API is modified. And, developers do not need to inform the operations team about code changes. Developers could manually configure the API Gateway Request Validation, but it would require changes every time an API is updated, making the processing time consuming and error-prone.

Introducing Swagger

A well-known tool for developers, Swagger allows you to write API specifications as code. It uses the OpenAPI specification managed by the Linux Foundation; the specification simplifies API development while simultaneously making it easier for internal and 3rd party applications to consume APIs.

Swagger helps the API producer and the API consumer establish an understanding of the expected API request format. For example, you can define:

  • Which endpoints should be available to users eg: mywebsite.com/products
  • What HTTP methods can be used eg GET, POST, PUT
  • What parameters can be passed, and what data can be returned

An API Gateway can be configured with a Swagger specification so that it takes charge of the Request Validation before the private application must.

To streamline the process even further, Flux7 has developed a generic API module using AWS CloudFormation to deploy the components required for the API Gateway and Swagger integration. Developers maintain the Swagger specification for each application, store it in Git and the specification is used to automatically configure the API Gateway, which minimizes the efforts required of the operations team. To achieve this process, Flux7 DevOps consultants have developed a Python script that automatically converts Swagger specifications to API Gateway compatible specifications. Some of the challenges listed here were also solved by the Python script.

Below is an example developer flow diagram for making API changes in Swagger. When the developer is ready to make changes to the API Gateway specifications, they use a pull request through an api-gateway pipeline.

Developer flow API changes Swagger

 

The Amazon API Gateway is a very popular AWS service as it benefits IT operations, security and development teams. It allows developers to easily manage and publish multiple API versions while it provides Operations teams with the ability to rely on a scalable AWS-managed service that has built-in Amazon CloudWatch monitoring. And, it allows security teams to help ensure authorization and access controls are properly configured, addressing internal and external security requirements. When paired together, the Amazon API Gateway and Swagger can further improve the efficiency and efficacy of an enterprise’s security and compliance efforts, while streamlining development.

Interested in how Security by Design efforts such as this can help improve the security and compliance of your enterprise without slowing down development efforts? Reach out today:

Contact Us for a Quote

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

IT Modernization and DevOps News Week in Review

IT Modernization and DevOps News Week in Review

 

IT Modernization DevOps News 9

M&A activity was in the news this week with several significant industry announcements. Splunk announced a definitive agreement to acquire SignalFx, a SaaS provider of real-time monitoring and metrics for cloud infrastructure, microservices, and applications. As the APM market heats up, Splunk is asserting itself as an APM leader for organizations at every stage of their cloud journey.

VMware announced a deal to purchase Pivotal in a deal valued at $2.7B. They also revealed plans to acquire Carbon Black, an endpoint security company, for $2.1 billion. We also saw Resolve Systems announce the acquisition of FixStream. The marriage will bring together FixStream AIOps and Resolve’s IT automation and orchestration platform.

To stay up-to-date on DevOps security, CI/CD and IT Modernization, subscribe to our blog here:

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DevOps News

  • Puppet announced Puppet Remediate with partners, Bitbone and Fishtech. According to a news announcement, the solution seeks to unify infrastructure and vulnerability data, quickly identifying what infrastructure resources are impacted by vulnerabilities, and then allows operators to take immediate action to remediate vulnerable packages without requiring any agent technology.
  • GitLab revealed that its Branch Source Plugin has been released to the Jenkins update center. The new plugin allows the creation of jobs based on GitLab user, group, or subgroup project by either import a single project’s branches as jobs from a GitLab user/group/subgroup or by importing all or a subset of projects as jobs from a GitLab user/group/subgroup.
  • Red Hat announced GA of Red Hat OpenShift Service Mesh. According to the press release, Service Mesh connects, observes and simplifies service-to-service communication of Kubernetes applications on Red Hat OpenShift 4. OpenShift Service Mesh helps to free developer teams from the complex tasks of having to implement bespoke networking services for their applications and business logic.

AWS News

  • Amazon Forecast is now generally available. Announced at re:Invent last year, Forecast is a fully managed service that marries historical data and relevant metadata to produce accurate forecasts. No experience in machine learning is required.
  • Amazon announced vertical scaling for Redis Cluster mode with Amazon ElastiCache, allowing operators to scale up or scale down shared Redis Clusters on demand.
  • Healthcare companies can now mask health data in images or text with Amazon’s AI-Powered Health Data Masking.
  • AWS Systems Manager announced Quick Setup to more easily get started with key Systems Manager capabilities like patch compliance scanning.
  • And, the company also announced a Quick Start for Amazon Redshift, allowing operators to automatically deploy Redshift on the AWS Cloud.
  • AppStream, Amazon’s fully managed, secure application streaming service announced support for local file system redirection, which allows end-users to now open or save files on their computer from within their streaming session. It also added support for VPC endpoints for API operations and streaming traffic, which means that operators can route streaming traffic to AppStream streaming instances through Amazon VPC using VPC endpoints. In addition, operators can use a VPC endpoint to perform API operations without relying on an internet connection.

Flux7 News

Download the Paper Today

Written by Flux7 Labs

Flux7 is the only Sherpa on the DevOps journey that assesses, designs, and teaches while implementing a holistic solution for its enterprise customers, thus giving its clients the skills needed to manage and expand on the technology moving forward. Not a reseller or an MSP, Flux7 recommendations are 100% focused on customer requirements and creating the most efficient infrastructure possible that automates operations, streamlines and enhances development, and supports specific business goals.

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

Using Molecule for Test Driven Development of Ansible Roles

Using Molecule for Test Driven Development of Ansible Roles

Molecule Test Driven Development Ansible RoleContinuous testing is a DevOps best practice that helps ensure code quality. It implies that code is tested early, often and automatically, helping create a culture of test-driven development (TDD) and continuous integration (CI). While today’s blog isn’t a deep dive into TDD, we lean on the description of Kent Beck, who is credited with developing the technique, as one that encourages simple design and inspires confidence. 

While DevOps teams often excel at enabling application teams with better testing, in a case of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” the DevOps community largely lags in the testing of their own code assets. Yet, the increasing complexity of infrastructure, configuration, and jobs among other assets make this situation increasingly untenable. For example, one of the most critical code assets created by a DevOps team is their server configuration. It is usually complex as it handles multiple interdependencies and requires long testing cycles. Clearly, a lack of proper DevOps security testing and TDD can prevent DevOps teams from realizing their potential. 

Our CTO has a simple mantra, “make it easy to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing.” Employing this mantra, we created a templatized framework to create Ansible roles with testing built-in using Molecule. We share our learnings with you today in this blog post.

Ease Testing Of Ansible Roles with Molecule

Scenarios, Testinfra

Molecule is designed to help develop and test Ansible roles. Providing support for multiple testing scenarios and frameworks, it was little surprise when Ansible announced that it was officially adopting Molecule and Ansible-Lint to test Ansible roles. This adoption unites the Ansible open source community behind a single framework, unifying the efforts. Hence, using Molecule and TestInfra as the framework of choice for Flux7 was a no-brainer.

Molecule can create different scenarios. By creating different scenarios for different test cases, we can test our Ansible roles against various platforms with different tests. Each scenario has its own platform defined, so when we run the Molecule test, the scenario automatically handles the creation of the testbench, running the Ansible role, orchestrating the different tests, and cleanup. The testbench can be bare-metal, virtual, cloud, containers, or any existing infrastructure. Molecule provides a high level of flexibility within steps and allows us to skip steps as appropriate.

For more information, refer to the Molecule Documentation.

Create Standard Templates For Reuse with Cookiecutter

Cookiecutter is a command-line utility that creates projects from project templates. Cookiecutter templates use the templating system Jinja2  to replace or customize folder and file names, along with file content. You can use Cookiecutter either with a Git repository, with a folder, any branch, or even a Zip file. It takes the source directory tree and copies it to your new project. Using Jinja allows us to create templates that are easy to read (variable substitution on all fields marked with ) and a high degree of flexibility (Jinja supports programming constructs like ‘if’ and ‘for’). Molecule has built-in support for creating new Ansible roles using Cookiecutter, so the use of CookieCutter was a natural choice.

For more information, refer to the Cookiecutter Documentation.

Bring It All Together

With our bias to action, we started by refactoring two roles and creating a Cookiecutter template. The roles were for managing a sample Nginx application and Jenkins. As Jenkins is core to a lot of work we do and is critical to our infrastructure., be on the lookout for an upcoming blog post specific to Jenkins. (Subscribe to our blog below to make sure you don’t miss it.)

We created a Molecule scenario which is a self-contained directory that has everything required to test the role in a specific way. The default scenario is named default, and every role contains a default scenario. In addition to the default scenario, we also created run tests for:

  1. Docker (these tests are designed torun quickly)
  2. AWS (these tests reflect a high fidelity environment)
  3. Use existing (tests on existing infrastructure)

Scenarios themselves allow a lot of flexibility and can support multiple usage models. Molecule scenarios enable us to split the parts of our test suites into two types. 

  1. Scenario-Specific Files – Define very specific scenarios like infrastructure provider-specific configurations, ensuring they are placed in separate directories.
  2. Common Files – Define common files that stay the same across all scenarios. Flux7 test cases are the best example.

From here, we translate a skeleton role with best practices including Molecule tests into a Cookiecutter template to make it easy to deploy these best practices. This itself is a Molecule best practice as Molecule has the functionality to create roles from built-in Cookiecutter templates, saving time while enforcing defined standards.

Cookiecutter Templates Ansible Role

How to Run Tests

To run a specific scenario use:

$ molecule  lint -s ${scenario_name}

To run the default scenario use:

$ molecule  lint 

Running these tests gives an output. This is an example of a Docker Scenario:

Molecule Lint
You are also able to skip some of the stages by just adding comment lines (#) in those stages.

Scenario Ansible Role Molecule

For information on running Molecule with a different matrix, refer to the Molecule Matrix.

How to Create Future Roles

First, you must configure your Molecule setup.  

To initialize a new generic role with Molecule, use:

$ molecule init role -r ${role_name}

This will create the Ansible role directory structure along with a Molecule directory inside the skeleton with the default scenario.

However, if, like us, you want to pre-populate particular paths, scenarios, and best practices, we recommend creating a template repo and using that as the basis for the roles you create, e.g. using a command like: 

$ molecule init template –url  [email protected]:Flux7Labs/cookiecutter-ansible-role.git

Benefit DevOps Engineers

The Flux7 TDD solution has several benefits to DevOps engineers: 

  • Less Time to Create – As there is no need to create Ansible roles from scratch, it takes less time to create Ansible roles.
  • Fully Automated with Best Practices – The process is now fully automated and roles are created automatically with best practices to save engineer’s time.
  • Less Time for Test – Tests are triggered from Jenkins so that whenever a user makes a code commit, a test gets triggered and scans for lint-related errors, checks functionalities and performs unit testing. Only after that can a pull request be passed for approval and merged to master.
  • Fully Customizable – This level of customization allows us to add many new features. 
  • Manage Multiple Environment Roles – It is easy to have your role run inside any type of virtual environment you need as Molecule works with VirtualBox, Docker, or even AWS EC2 instances.
  • No Need to Learn Best Practices – No prior knowledge of best practices is required as everything required for testing is available in one place in the framework.
  • Faster Feedback Cycle – With the Flux7 TDD, engineers get a fast feedback loop, quickly seeing if a change is successful or not. This allows you to quickly make additional changes, easily following the loop until you are satisfied with the outcome.
  • Prevents Code Bugs – As pre-commit hooks to check basic code errors are embedded, you get a warning and cannot push the code until errors are resolved. 
  • Security Updates – Ansible role development is more secure as third-party library or component updates are reflected.
  • Quick and Easy – Run only one command to test an Ansible role once it is ready.

Continuous testing is a DevOps best practice as it helps you evaluate code quality at every step, identifying problems early and ultimately speeding time to market. While TDD increases developer productivity, it places a strong emphasis on the tests you write to ensure that they identify what you expect from code. With Flux7’s Molecule Framework for testing Ansible roles,  you can improve the quality of your Ansible roles using best practices, while ensuring integration with your CI/CD processes. 

Interested in improving your TDD processes? Let us help. Reach out today:

Contact Us for a Quote

from Flux7 DevOps Blog

Flux7 Named to Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing List Two Years Running

Flux7 Named to Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing List Two Years Running

Flux7 Named Inc 5000 DevOps ConsultingInc. magazine has announced its annual ranking of the fastest-growing companies in America and for the second year, Flux7 has been named to the prestigious list. We are truly honored to be named among some of the most iconic brands in the American economy, such as Microsoft, Dell, LinkedIn, Zillow, and many others, who have been named to the list over time.

Flux7 ranked 1489th nationally with three-year revenue growth of 277% and was also ranked as the 39th fastest-growing IT Systems Development company, as well as 31st among all private companies in Austin. (A full list of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.) While this is a tremendous sign of Flux7’s continued growth and business momentum, it is also a recognition of the hard work of our team members, and the trusting relationships we have built with our customers.

Organizations partner with Flux7 to strategically plan IT roadmap adoption of DevOps value and to accelerate progress using highly in-demand skills and proven experience with cloud, containers, configuration management, and CICD. Flux7 customers gain long-term agility through the transfer of knowledge and IP during the planning and delivery process.

As our CEO, Aater Suleman, stated in a letter to our readers earlier this year, Flux7 was founded with a vision is to enable enterprises to experiment more, fail cheap, and measure results accurately. In pursuit of this goal and in service to our customers as an innovation lab, we continue to deepen our experience with new technologies such as Kubernetes and Terraform as well as advanced native cloud services.

Flux7 DevOps Case Study

For example, Flux7 DevOps consultants helped a global retailer standardize and accelerate its development efforts on AWS by building a DevOps Dashboard that would automatically apply the company’s various standards as its cloud infrastructure is deployed. Using the DevOps Dashboard allows its developers to focus on editing applications rather than worrying about infrastructure standard compliance. The result of this advanced DevOps automation is that developers are able to create higher quality code faster, which means that they can quickly experiment and get winning ideas to market faster.

Flux7 DevOps experts also helped an oil and gas leader who had over seven million physical documents in deep storage that it needed digitized. In the process, it also wanted to make it easy to archive documents moving forward, and ensure that its operators could easily search for and find data. Using Amazon Textract, S3, Lambda, and Kibana, we helped construct a solution that automated the digitization and archiving process while allowing end users to create smart search indexes to easily find key business data. And operators can build automated approval workflows to meet document archival rules for regulatory compliance.

A major wholesaler, knowing the extreme costs of infrastructure failure to its business, turned to Flux7 to help it refactor its eCommerce site to achieve the benefits of cloud DevOps. Our team architected and built a DevOps platform, ensuring that the applications were architected for high availability at all levels in order to meet the company’s aggressive SLA goals. The customer team was able to further its skills, learning through Flux7 knowledge transfer sessions how to enable agile and DevOps best practices and continue to accelerate the new AWS DevOps platform. At an estimated downtime cost of 6x the industry average, this firm couldn’t withstand the financial or reputational impact of a downtime event. As a result, the team is happy to report that it is meeting its zero downtime SLA objectives, enabling continuous system availability and customer satisfaction.

As Flux7 continues to expand its DevOps consulting services through further investment in repeatable processes and intellectual property to speed and scale customer results, companies like G6 Hospitality, Rent-A-Center and TechNipFMC continue to engage Flux7’s professional services and infrastructure modernization services.

Interested in how we can help  optimize your IT platforms and apply automation within an Agile DevOps model to improve your security and efficiency posture? Reach out to today:

Contact Us for a Demo

from Flux7 DevOps Blog