ARCAD ‘DROPS’ Deployment Management Into DevOps Pack
June 1, 2016 Dan Burger
If you could improve your application and systems software management, what would be the overall effect on your organization be? Greater efficiency and higher productivity come to mind. And the ripple effect touches nearly every employee, customer and business partner. In organizations that depend on the IBM i running on Power Systems, the focus typically begins on the system and on technical components. For the greater good, a multi-platform approach that focuses on functions is the better choice.
Application development is the backbone of many IBM midrange shops and managing that function has led to greater efficiencies through the planning, building, testing, and deployment steps. That singular focus has, for many companies, taken on a wider scope that includes operations. What we used to know as change management software for application development has evolved and culminated as agile development and DevOps.
“I see a lot of companies moving to the DevOps strategy,” says ARCAD Software CEO Philippe Magne. “DevOps contains lean management, agile development, continuous deployment. This is the direction business is going and this is the direction ARCAD is taking with software that manages development and collaboration processes.”
To that purpose ARCAD has introduced new software called DROPS, which is designed to support continuous integration and delivery of new applications–including mobile and open source code management–and new operations by providing release status information, which Magne describes as “the final phase, the most critical phase of the development process.”
When the deployment phase fails, organizations go into a tailspin with recovery often a costly occurrence. Even a return to the previous methodology is not a simple process. The damage is still an IT problem, but the impacts are coming from throughout the organization.
Magne set up DROPS Software as a separate company, so that it could stand alone as a product not specifically tied to the IBM i platform. It does, however, support IBM i, and Magne expects IBM i businesses will be the first adopters of DROPS because of ARCAD’s history in that market. It takes a place in the ARCAD Application Lifecycle Management suite of products, which have their repository on IBM i. The repository analyzes libraries and uses source code to develop a database that contains all the inter-relationships between components (programs, files, etc.), fields (databases, work fields), and lines of source code.
All of the ARCAD product suites rely on the repository to manage software components, automate recompilation of dependent components, and check the integrity of modifications made to the components. It also serves as a knowledgebase for all ARCAD modules and functions.
DROPS was also designed to integrate with IBM’s Rational Team Concert, which was not an i-friendly product until two years ago when ARCAD and IBM formed a partnership to do something about that. ARCAD now has a package called ARCAD Pack for DevOps that includes RTC support.
According to Magne, there is a shift in the enterprise IT balance of power. Open systems are replacing platform-specific dynamics and control. One of the challenges that IBM faces is to move from designing and marketing proprietary systems to becoming part of a standardized IT environment. Many of the IBM i enhancements (and IBM investments) are done with this in mind.
There’s also a shift in terminology. Outside of the IBM i community change management is expected to manage projects and deployments in addition to managing code.
“It is more complicated,” Magne says, because of the multi-platform aspect. The challenge is to have a single tool that can pick changes in different platforms and eventually push everything into production. It’s more of a synchronizing activity. As more people are involved, the tool has to handle the sign-off from the various groups involved. DevOps is driving the need for this type of tool.”
In addition to IBM i, DROPS supports Windows, Linux, Unix, and mainframe environments.
Managing the deployment processes with DROPS is accomplished through a visual interface on a Web-based console. Deployment stages are validated and visible in real time and a deployment log is provided. Processes can be associated with an application or an environment and follows a configurable deployment map, which is capable of containing several environments.
Deployments can be executed sequentially, in parallel, or in dependency order. An application can be fully deployed in a single action or by cumulative patches. In each case, there are compatibility checks with previously deployed releases. Deployment options include Web or local connections.
After the deployment process, DROPS adds the capability to manage the installation of delivered software. Users have the choice of separating deployment and installation phases. Warehouses are used to contain releases in order to defer installations if necessary. Installation execution is logged in a centralized journal, which provides the traceability that’s required by many regulatory compliance mandates. Rollback capabilities are also built in.
“It is not the goal of DROPS to ensure quality. It is a tool to automate deployment. The goal of ensuring quality comes with the other ARCAD products,” Magne says.