Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Mark Hoover, Stefan Bernbo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, Cloud Security, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Misconceptions Around App Testing in the Private Cloud

The private cloud actually confers many more nuanced benefits, particularly for developers

The private cloud: What it is (and isn't)
The private cloud is misunderstood. At this stage, vendors can be forgiven for not having a firm idea of what the private cloud is and how it can uniquely improve their processes. Too many service providers have branded legacy technologies as "cloud-based," warping buyers' expectations about what a private cloud actually is and should do. In some cases, what developers and testers get with these cloud-washed solutions are nothing more than heavily virtualized environments that offer little or none of the scalability, automation, self-service, and on-demand provisioning associated with cloud computing at-large.

As a result, organizations may think of the private cloud as simply a slight update to their internal IT systems, a fresh coat of paint on the same aging infrastructure that they have been looking to leave behind as new dynamic applications become more central to their businesses. They want a cloud platform that can enable more agile software lifecycles, with streamlined testing and abundant resources for developers, but these misconceptions may lead them to conclude that the public cloud is the only way to achieve these goals and facilitate quicker time-to-market, as well as higher programmer productivity.

The truth is that using a private cloud not only provides a productive dev/test environment, but also adds tangible advantages over running all workloads on public infrastructure. For starters, the unpredictable opex of using public cloud services can be replaced with fixed capex, mostly for high-end servers and appliances that provide the dedicated power for running tasks consistently. Accordingly, dev/test teams benefit from working in a single-tenant environment in which resources are rapidly and reliably provisioned and often come from appliances with superior specifications to public Infrastructure-as-a-Service machines.

Moreover, the private cloud boosts particular IT workflows, all while shielding these operations behind the company firewall. It provides high levels of security and control that make it ideal for safely developing and testing applications. Naturally, dev/test has been instrumental in shaping the private cloud's amenities for automation and self-service, along with the evolution of commercial solutions that leverage open source software to give teams maximum flexibility in configuring and customizing processes.

Some industry executives and observers have disputed the entire notion of the private cloud, arguing that it either has no agreed-upon definition or is already obsolete, but in reality its structures are readily discernible in data centers and on-premises systems that depend on it for these central IT, dev/test and quality assurance operations. These workflows all offer low-risk/high-reward opportunities for synthesizing the productive gains of cloud computing with dedicated hardware to obtain the best of both worlds.

While the private cloud has sometimes been cited for lacking the fundamental traits of cloud computing in general - on-demand service, scalability, self-provisioning and measurement - this argument only applies to virtualized environments that have been wrongly labeled. These depictions should not obscure the fact that private clouds are real, vital parts of IT infrastructure.

Why Do Testing and Development in a Private Cloud?
If development, and deployment of software, is a strategic everyday activity, then in most cases private clouds make sense. There is a common perception that controlling your IT destiny is complicated and expensive. But today, with highly evolved hardware and highly automated cloud platforms, operation of your own infrastructure is becoming easier and less expensive by the day.

Development and testing is a natural fit for cloud environments because superior access to resources leads to shorter wait times during critical processes (no more never-ending provisioning) and lower costs per unit tested. While these gains are theoretically attainable through any cloud platform, the private cloud provides distinctive advantages.

Start with infrastructure. Traditional testing environments are complicated to use and costly to maintain, taking up excessive space and consuming considerable power despite sitting idle for long periods of time. Firing up testing equipment every few months often leads to difficulty and frustration as teams try to ensure the consistency of all environments. Debugging times lengthen and application delivery is delayed.

Using a private cloud simplifies matters on both the hardware and software fronts. Testing resources can be set up and decommissioned as needed, obviating the need to keep instances running indefinitely on the public cloud. Private cloud virtualization enables compute, storage and networking to be scaled in accordance with application demands and a self-service Web portal can make this process easier. Some private cloud implementations connect to public infrastructure as needed, usually to provide additional automation, scalability or spillover, a phenomenon known as cloud bursting.

Still, would-be adopters may recoil at the perceived high cost of the private cloud, which is sometimes misleadingly set in stark contrast to the pay-as-you-go efficiency of the public cloud. In truth, improvements in hardware and public APIs have made the private cloud more affordable and reliable than ever before. It is no longer a cousin to the expensive, difficult-to-maintain systems that organizations once abandoned for the public cloud; rather, it is an increasingly vital component of modern IT, providing the security, control and performance needed for particular tasks, while also interacting with public platforms to open up a fuller range of services for developers and testers.

Using a Private Cloud Doesn't Mean Never Using the Public Cloud
The very term "private cloud" can be confusing, since it groups together a diverse range of infrastructure and software under one umbrella and sets them in opposition to remotely hosted services. This is a false dichotomy. Not all private clouds are equally capable, nor do they all share compatibility with public clouds as part of hybrid deployments, although the latter trait is becoming more common.

Accordingly, it makes sense to look at the private cloud on a case-by-case basis and assess them as tools and platforms for dev/test. Many of them can easily coexist with both legacy technologies and public cloud platforms to create an ideal environment for software development and deployment.

Public cloud providers have certainly taken note, with several of them modifying their services so that enterprise customers can, for example, feed information into big data tools from on-premises databases or other platforms. These moves speak to the ongoing demand for private clouds that not only have the most apparent amenities - security, dedicated hardware - but also offer highly efficient ways to handle workloads in different way depending on their requirements and on how they evolve.

More specifically, the private cloud is one way to reduce costs and still maintain advanced continuous integration. With the right combination of software and hardware, a private deployment enables excellent handling of servers and automation, as well as the use of plugins that can launch worker nodes on a public cloud for extra capacity. While organizations vary by the number of connections they make between in-house systems and the public cloud, the power of the private cloud is that it is flexible enough to address a wide range of use cases by applying cloud computing principles to key processes.

As such, the private cloud can be an important part of a hybrid deployment, with capabilities that support certain workflows in ways that the public cloud cannot. Resources can be provisioned quickly, leading to faster time to market. Dev/test can be run at low cost on the private cloud, with the workload shifted unchanged to a public cloud for production. Far from being an expensive relic or the antithesis of convenient self-service cloud computing, the private cloud, as well as the hybrid setups it may be part of, is a powerful platform for producing, testing and deploying software, and one that is often equipped with public APIs for additional versatility.

Startups and Service Providers Are Among Many Organizations with Private Clouds
How does the private cloud look in action? Organizations across many verticals have set up private clouds to make software deployment easy and economical. Private cloud is most readily associated with handling sensitive data for heavily regulated industries such as finance and healthcare, but its use cases are actually varied and particularly relevant for programmers.

It is common for startups to go with the public cloud to get what seems like the point-and-click convenience of unlimited resources. After a while, however, many of these companies realize that they can obtain better speeds on their own dedicated hardware, with the added benefits of better privacy and security compared to public cloud. Despite its rapid evolution, the public cloud is still very opaque, and users may get into situations in which they are overly reliant on average machines with specifications that cannot be adjusted. A private or hybrid cloud is a great way to get the infrastructure that the organization needs in order to reliably run workloads and get the most out of their investments.

While cost and security typically dominate any conversation about the private cloud, organizations should realize that it actually confers many more nuanced benefits, particularly for developers. Savings and data protection are critical, but a productive, transparent and highly configurable dev/test environment sets companies that use the private cloud up for long-term success in an increasingly complex cloud landscape.

More Stories By Shashi Mysore

Shashi Mysore is the Director of Product Management at Eucalyptus Systems, where his responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of the product life cycle, from strategy to execution. Mysore obtained his MS and PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and is a recipient of several awards at internationally renowned conferences, including two IEEE Micro Top Pick awards

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, discussed the best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Enterprise networks are complex. Moreover, they were designed and deployed to meet a specific set of business requirements at a specific point in time. But, the adoption of cloud services, new business applications and intensifying security policies, among other factors, require IT organizations to continuously deploy configuration changes. Therefore, enterprises are looking for better ways to automate the management of their networks while still leveraging existing capabilities, optimizing perf...
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors an...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, explained the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is rele...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of D...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Due of the rise of Hadoop, many enterprises are now deploying their first small clusters of 10 to 20 servers. At this small scale, the complexity of operating the cluster looks and feels like general data center servers. It is not until the clusters scale, as they inevitably do, when the pain caused by the exponential complexity becomes apparent. We've seen this problem occur time and time again. In his session at Big Data Expo, Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ...
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, will explore the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and will give a real live, hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He will examine three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. This is a hands-on session that will require participants to bring their own laptops, and we will provide the rest.
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., and Logan Best, Infrastructure & Network Engineer at Webair, focused on real world deployments of DDoS mitigation strategies in every layer of the network. He gave an overview of methods to prevent these attacks and best practices on how to provide protection in complex cloud platforms. He also outlined what we have found in our experience managing and running thousands of Linux and Unix ...