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Rackspace Adds New DevOps Automation Service


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Rackspace Hosting is expanding its ‘Fanatical Support’ by helping customers automate their cloud infrastructure with a new managed support service for DevOps tools. The new DevOps Automation Service aims to help developers automate the process of deploying and scaling hybrid cloud infrastructure for fast-growing applications, while advancing the adoption of the DevOps methodology among software and IT teams.

Organizations need to get their products into the market faster, and to do, that they are making choices, said Jonathan Siegel, product director, Rackspace.  “They are choosing to develop with an Agile process where they deliver products into production on the order of weeks versus using Waterfall and much longer time frames. They are choosing dynamic languages over static and compiled languages. And, they are choosing cloud and deployment automation over fixed, manually configured infrastructure.  These choices, to make our customers move faster and be more relevant, require a change in the way that they deploy, and the way they build their deployments. And that is what we know as DevOps. What we are offering in our new service is the evolution of Fanatical Support to include facilitating our customers with their configuration and automation for their deployment.”

The DevOps Automation Service will enable developers and IT departments to deploy, scale and test new configurations in hours rather than days, says the managed cloud service provider. In addition, the new service will help improve the quality of software deployments and to create more frequent software releases, since automating processes will allow organizations to provision servers consistently and avoid mistakes typically caused by manual installation and configuration.

The new DevOps Automation Service offering is built to help improve various phases of the application lifecycle, allowing customers to enforce consistency and avoid “drift,” manage configurations, manage change, and respond to monitoring alerts.

“We have basically packaged up the best practices that we have seen in the customers that we provide managed services to our own product development experience and we have created  this DevOps automation service to provide that experience,” said Jonathan Siegel, product director, Rackspace. The DevOps Automation Service is comprised of the same tools and best practices used by Rackspace. “Over the last 18 months we have developed 18 new products that required 2,500 pushes into production - that is about seven a day - and we ran 15,000 automated tests on the code that has been released.”

According to Rackspace, key benefits of the new DevOps Automation Service include:

Enhanced Infrastructure Automation in Rackspace DevOps Automation Service

Enhanced Infrastructure Automation enables customers to improve quality and velocity of software release, and to synchronize development and staging environments with production environment using configuration management tools such as Chef; collect application performance metrics (APM) to view code impact changes with application monitoring tools such as New Relic, statsD, Graphite, or Cloud Monitoring; build workflows to automate routine maintenance tasks using workflow automation tools such as Rundeck and Jenkins, aggregate logs from all devices to identify patterns and spot anomalies using log aggregation tools such as logstash; manage caching needs with tools such as Memcache, Varnish and more. Multi-server environments are now provisioned in minutes instead of the hours it previously took without automation tools.

Managed Services Provided by Rackspace DevOps Automation Service 

Managed Services  enable customers to focus on innovation and other tasks that add value to the business by allowing Rackspace to design, build, configure, monitor and optimize both the infrastructure, software stack and the automation tools.

Tools to Support DevOps in Rackspace DevOps Automation Service

Support for Linux-based technologies (and soon also Windows) support DevOps tools up and down the stack, ranging from application and infrastructure monitoring to MongoDB and MySQL database support including PHP, Python, Ruby, Go, Java, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Flask, Meteor, MySQL, MongoDB, Riak, Cassandra, Solr, Elasticsearch, Hadoop, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Memcache, Varnish, Redis, Cloud Monitoring, RabbitMQ, ActiveMQ and others.

The cornerstone of what Rackspace does is piece together and write the code that automates customers’ infrastructure, said Matt Barlow, senior manager, Fanatical Support at Rackspace Hosting. “When a customer comes on to the team, we look at their existing environment if they have one and we reverse engineer the environment and we rewrite it using Chef cookbooks with more configuration management tools as well coming soon, but right now we are really focused on Chef and we have 24/7 devops engineers on the team and they are experts in running Chef using best practices. They contribute to the community Chef cookbooks.” According to Barlow, Rackspace uses reusable cookbooks and tests them continuously.

“One interesting thing about infrastructure automation and using Chef is that is very easy to use it the wrong way,” said Barlow. “A lot of people want to automate their infrastructure and they start working with Chef recipes and then they start building on to them and they end up with this monolithic recipe that is not tested and is just a collection of scripts that they are using for deployment and other tasks. It requires a lot of discipline.  Another thing is that when they are getting started with configuration management, if something happens such as a deadline or a performance issue, it is very tempting to bypass your infrastructure automation and just go directly on to the servers and log in and start making changes.”

The new DevOps Automation Service offering is built to help improve various phases of the application lifecycle, allowing customers to enforce consistency and avoid “drift,” manage configurations, manage change, and respond to monitoring alerts.

For more information about Rackspace’s DevOps Automation Service, visit www.rackspace.com/devops


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