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CloudBees Core sets its sights beyond enterprise Jenkins

CloudBees and its competitors vie to offer the visibility and data-driven performance measurement into CI/CD processes that enterprises need to strive for better DevOps governance.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Large enterprises that embrace DevOps quickly run into CI/CD pipeline sprawl, and vendors such as CloudBees want to help them get control over it.

To that end, CloudBees rolled out a CloudBees Suite at DevOps World | Jenkins World here this week, and previewed policy enforcement and governance features for the next version CloudBees Core. The CloudBees Suite consolidates multiple products with confusing names into one set of tools that share data, analytics models, identity and access management controls, and support for multiple types of infrastructure environments. These tools include CloudBees Jenkins Platform, which supports on-premises server-based deployments; CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise, which has a container-based distributed architecture that was ported to Kubernetes from Apache Mesos in early 2018; the CloudBees DevOptics SaaS analytics service; and Codeship, which CloudBees acquired in February 2018.

Within the CloudBees Suite, CloudBees Core supplants CloudBees Jenkins Platform and CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise. Version 2 of CloudBees Core, released in mid-2018, offers centralized management over multiple Jenkins CI/CD pipelines. Version 3, under development, adds governance features such as security and compliance policy enforcement, value stream mapping and release management features that help enterprises see whether app delivery processes work as they should.

CloudBees customers such as HSBC, a global financial institution headquartered in London, have automated software development and delivery to production. Now, the bank looks to CloudBees to add analytics and policy automation that can make those pipelines adapt on the fly to changes in business priorities and infrastructure demands.

"We want an intelligent and aware path to production," said Rajeev Mahajan, CIO at HSBC in a keynote presentation. "We don't want our CI/CD pipelines to be static."

Christina Noren, CloudBees
CloudBees chief product officer Christina Noren introduces CloudBees Suite

Competitors beat CloudBees Core to the punch

DevOps governance and value stream mapping have emerged as trendy product categories in 2018 as enterprises look to measure the effectiveness of their DevOps strategy. However, some CloudBees competitors, such as Plutora, have offered these capabilities for several years. The Plutora Platform value stream management product proved valuable to Merck, a global pharmaceutical and life sciences company headquartered in Germany, in 2013.

We want an intelligent and aware path to production. We don't want our CI/CD pipelines to be static.
Rajeev MahajanCIO, HSBC

Merck has rolled the tool out globally to locations in the U.S., EU, China, Singapore and Australia, and used it to develop a centralized release pipeline for its CRM systems. Now, the business continuously evaluates the effectiveness of that pipeline, sees how long it will take to deliver features and optimizes the pipeline to keep up with business demand.

"You can't go fast if you can't see where you're going," said Keith Smola, associate director of release and service management at Merck, during a Q&A session in a presentation here.

Plutora and other CloudBees Core competitors, Electric Cloud and XebiaLabs, integrate with a variety of DevOps pipeline tools, but CloudBees Core will primarily focus on Jenkins. Some enterprise users have also cobbled together value stream management systems from multiple specialist vendors, and created dashboards with open source tools, such as Grafana.

However, some of those DIY customers will evaluate CloudBees Core version 3 when it is released.

"Governance built in as a feature of our existing CI/CD tool is very appealing, versus bringing in yet another tool or building something else in-house," said a software engineering manager at a San Francisco-based company that uses CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Early days for DevOps governance

CloudBees and competitors have plenty of time to build out value stream management products, analysts said, as most enterprise IT organizations still struggle to set up CI/CD pipelines and DevOps automation.

"Enterprise clients are very interested in this, but most aren't engaged with it yet," said Chris Condo, analyst at Forrester Research, which started to cover value stream management tools in Fall 2017. "I predict we'll see more interesting end-user stories [about these products] in 2019."

Enterprise IT pros are subject to "metrics overload," Condo acknowledged, as virtually every DevOps tool vendor advertises data analytics and looks to serve as a one-stop shop for software delivery management.

Data-driven measurement has always been a fundamental concept of DevOps, but the proliferation of tools has muddied the waters for enterprise buyers, Condo said.

"In the right hands, data can be a useful tool, or it can be nasty," he said. "Clients ask me about what the 'right' DevOps metrics are, and I don't always have a good answer right now."

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