Standardizing Builds To Ease Multi-Environment Development And Deployment

For many organizations, adopting the cloud is an incremental process. A typical organization has distinct deployment elements: development, testing/integration and production. Larger organizations may have further segmentation between various IT “silos” (e.g., Sales, HR, asset-management, decision-support, etc.). For such organizations, moving everything, en masse, into cloud-based solutions is a non-starter. Ignoring the realities of budgets, head-counts and internal politics, organizations are still left with the technical issues that come with any change of platform: learning the vagaries of the new deployment environments and coping with “build” differences.

One of the technical items that Plus3 has tackled is mitigating the pain caused by build differences. Whether originated in-house or making use of vendor-supplied builds — be that vendor the cloud-operator or some other party — each organization that creates a build will tend to create a build that speaks to their particular needs. When a customer undertakes an incremental process of adopting cloud, this typically means that they have to cope with builds that are unique to each environment. This uniqueness can make it such that something that worked reliably in one environment falls flat on its face when developers attempt to move it to another environment. Each time this happens, the deployment pipeline is slowed and costs increase.

Plus3 IT’s consultants came up with an extensible method for standardizing Linux builds across the various environments that a customer might use to create their deployment pipeline. Originally, this method was focussed on helping customers consistent, compliant builds within the various AWS cloud environments. As customers adopted this build within AWS, they asked, “is there any way you can help us to copy this build to our internal environments”. These customers were looking to be able to run our AWS build in their legacy VMware labs or on individual developers’ desktop- and laptop-hosted virtualization-frameworks (most frequently Vagrant-managed VirtualBox VMs).

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