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Electric Cloud boosts DevOps orchestration, visibility

As enterprises increase their DevOps tooling investments, Electric Cloud aims to position itself as an orchestrator for the disparate teams and technologies within an organization.

The latest version of Electric Cloud's application release orchestration product doubles down on usability and scalability as enterprises increasingly rely on diverse DevOps teams and toolchains to manage different applications.

Electric Cloud's updated application release orchestration (ARO) platform, ElectricFlow 8.5, enables IT professionals to toggle between views of a development pipeline. A release manager might prefer to see a Kanban-style view, while a developer would choose to see it represented as code. The product also enhanced reporting and dashboard features to help organizations track software build processes in continuous integration tools such as Travis CI or Jenkins, which can help identify bottlenecks and streamline DevOps orchestration.

An IT pro can build a knowledge base that provides context-specific DevOps orchestration advice, said Torsten Volk, analyst at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

"We can't forget the reason why DevOps has so many issues: because we still don't know how to replicate the success of one team to the success of 10 others," he said.

TODO1 Services, an IT services company in Miami for financial institutions throughout Central and South America, adopted ElectricFlow in January for one of its critical applications, to analyze and apply operations tasks to its QA environments. As a result, the DevOps team reduced its deploy time from 45 to 15 minutes, and trimmed its QA process to a single quality gate with a duration down from two hours to 20 minutes, said John Fredy Echavarria, automation architect at TODO1.

Torsten Volk, Enterprise Management AssociatesTorsten Volk

TODO1 plans to adopt version 8.5 in early 2019 and roll it out to other applications as the central point for deployments. "[ElectricFlow] integrates with many tools that we have," he said. "We could orchestrate everything [and] have visualization of the entire process from end to end."

Echavarria pointed to the platform's improved reporting capabilities over 8.1 and 8.4. "We need that, because it was difficult for us to know the total time of deployment," he said.

We can't forget the reason why DevOps has so many issues: because we still don't know how to replicate the success of one team to the success of 10 others.
Torsten Volkanalyst, Enterprise Management Associates

ElectricFlow also is available as a SaaS offering, mainly to appeal to small-to-midsize businesses that want to develop cloud-native applications and likely won't purchase costly on-premises software. "It's probably a little bit early for the hardcore enterprise moving all that stuff up into the cloud, but we want to be there when they're ready," said Anders Wallgren, CTO at Electric Cloud.

Somos, a registry management vendor for telecommunications customers, based in East Brunswick Township, N.J., adopted ElectricFlow one year ago, said Gary McKay, release manager at the company. The product helped his team reduce deployment time from 24 hours to 20 minutes, and enabled DevOps orchestration across both its AWS and VMware environments.

McKay said he would like to see consulting services and more formalized training included with ElectricFlow to ease the learning curve; instead, Somos enlisted the help of a consultant to bring teams up to speed. Compared to a tool such as AWS CodeDeploy, ElectricFlow has a more convoluted application model and on-premises installation adds complexity, unless you use the SaaS version, he said.

McKay also considered XebiaLabs, but believed its product to be too proprietary, and wanted to avoid lock-in. CA Technologies and IBM are also major competitors in the ARO market.

ElectricFlow 8.5 ARO platform with Kanban view.
ElectricFlow 8.5 includes a Kanban view for release managers.

Paving the on-ramp for DevOps

Gartner predicts that enterprise ARO adoption will grow from less than 20% currently to 75% by 2023. As IT shops slowly adopt Agile and DevOps principles, ARO platforms can help them scale releases from diverse teams and toolchains.

Any company that presents a tool to standardize successful DevOps stands to win a significant share of the market, EMA's Volk said. ElectricFlow 8.5 comes close, he said, such as giving early warnings if a release is at stake, which is broadly appealing to DevOps shops.

Ultimately, many DevOps pros face opposition within their organizations, and a DevOps orchestration product can only go so far if it doesn't have the culture in place around it.

"If I had to build a company that had a lot of budget and a lot of time, and I can hire all the right people, I could build it beautifully," Volk said. "But if I come to a company with teams everywhere, fighting for their lives, fighting against each other, in-fighting, out-fighting and doing all kinds of things, turning that around needs a psychiatrist."

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