On January 24, 2017

Cloud Sandboxes and DevOps Productivity

When I was a kid I loved nothing more than the sandbox below the tree fort that my Dad built. My sandbox was a place where anything was possible. The toys of my childhood (the great ‘80s) all still bear the scars of that sandbox, in fact, my own children don’t play with any of their inherited matchbox cars because “Dad, they don’t roll right” due to that sand in their axles.

{Start Flashback fog – camera closed in on a cute kid in a long sleeve striped jersey – bowl haircut and a dirty face – playing in a sandbox}

In my childhood sandbox Luke battled The Shredder for ownership of Tatooine, Megatron fought Dr. Doom for control of the title ‘Best Bad guy’, and Destro would compete against Lion-O for the magic sword of destiny.  I was always an “out of the box” screenplay author that loved to mix genres and universes.

{Cue Flashback scene}

Anyway — back to the world of IT — whether it’s a child learning early principles of construction in a physical sandbox or a developer using a virtual sandbox to explore the functions of applications and tools prior to deployment. The benefits of sandbox learning apply to DevOps teams as well; they replicate cloud environments to perfect their offerings.

DevOps combines development and operations to provide efficiency and increase innovation. By tearing down organizational silos, DevOps creates competitive advantages, lowers risk, and reduces costs.

 

Deep Thoughts for DevOps

Cost is commonly a concern with DevOps and includes expenses related to time, training, tools, and talent. One way to minimize costs is by replicating production environments in a sandbox built with cloud capacity.

Free seems tempting – but remember – “free” is never free. Open source tools may be perceived as “free”, but companies and business units should not forget about the, sometimes steep, associated operational costs and complexities.

If Dev really mixes with Ops won’t that end up in some ‘really ugly’ children processes? Real concerns include security and legal questions, which are often different with development tools vs. operational ools and processes.  Adding in more open source applications due to community laws and intellectual property considerations can make that genetic pool even murkier.

 

Cui Bono or The Benefit of Cloud Sandboxes

When making any decision that spends out of our two key business asset pool – Our time, and our talent — we should ALWAYS view the cost thru the lens of “who benefits”.

In a Cloud sandbox we can give each developer and tester his or her own personal replica (or at least a very close mimic) of the correct production environment. This great diminishes the development cost in time, error, and release cycle. The benefit is shared by the internal teams AND the external customer.

In a real world scenario, when the development and operations teams are finished building and testing a new application, they can simply transfer the code, container, or image into production and disable the virtual environment. This allows applications to move quickly to market with lower cost and risk.

An almost accidental, but almost As Valuable benefit, to this method is that it allows the operations teams far greater control over the method and platform ‘product’ that is being used.  They can now automagically set usage policies and collect operational and business metrics and even charge for those services in a real service catalogue.

 

Continuous Innovation (from the Coda Playlist)

A cloud sandbox strategy simplifies the continuous Innovation.  A process term (that we coined!) that includes a constant cycle of testing, and deployment phases (CI/CT/CD) that, until our DevOps tools caught up in the recent past, were traditionally hampered by fragmentation, long test cycles, and lack of automation. Those gremlins slowed down performance and productivity to a point where it created an almost insurmountable divide between the two groups that should have been working most closely together.

With cloud sandboxes, however, automation is improved via standardized environments that can be implemented at different stages of the CI/CT/CD lifecycle. In addition, sandboxes help the team choose the optimal deployment path by discovering settings and configurations that would compromise the software when it goes live without incurring downtime.

As a result, cloud sandbox environments can, almost immediately, increase productivity by reducing duplicate work by up to 40%.

 

Conclusion

In today’s fast-paced business environment, efficiency and productivity count. Giving developers and testers the best possible tools is important to allow them to respond to market demands as quickly as possible.

Basically, sandboxes are cool and fun! Build one today! Their value far exceeds their cost and your teams will thank you.

Contact us for more information on how a cloud sandbox can increase productivity for your DevOps teams.

  • By Troy Vetter  0 Comments   4
  • cloud, cloud sandboxes, development, DevOps, operations, productivity

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