Blog - Slalom earns APN DevOps Competency

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Slalom Consulting AWS Amazon Partner Network DevOps Competency

Slalom earns the AWS Amazon Partner Network DevOps Competency

The combined power of AWS + DevOps

Ayman Husain | October 16, 2015

At Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent 2015, it was announced that Slalom earned the Amazon Partner Network (APN) DevOps Competency. APN DevOps Competency Partners have demonstrated success working with businesses to help them implement continuous integration and delivery development patterns with configuration management tools on AWS.

We had the honor of being acknowledged by Andy Jassy as one of the few AWS Premier Partners that gets cloud done right. As a partner, a cloud practitioner, and an inherent nerd who lives and breathes technology, it was the equivalent of earning a Cub Scouts’ merit badge.

As gratifying as this new honor is for all of us at Slalom, what does it mean for our clients and their customers? What does DevOps (the union of development and operations) bring to the already-crowded arena of evolving cloud solutions, and how does it help our clients get more bang for their buck? What’s the combined power of AWS + DevOps?

To answer these questions, it’s important to first understand how AWS has changed the cloud computing game.

The power of AWS

As most of us know, the cloud offers computing solutions and services as a subscription. It enables companies to essentially rent or lease computing power, storage, and networking for a straightforward, predictable subscription fee. If a company does just this basic little bit, it has operationalized its computing costs and saved a significant amount of money by using only what it needs and consumes.

AWS made it very easy for any user with sufficient Internet browser know-how to create—and almost instantaneously launch—an AWS virtual private cloud (VPC), a virtual machine (VM), and associated storage volumes.

It doesn’t stop there. AWS offers many platforms as a subscription service, and so, similarly, one can quickly spin up web applications or websites with simplicity and ease—including (in many cases) the associated databases required to service those apps.

AWS has given us the ability to launch servers, databases, web applications, and storage blobs with ease and efficiency, which has significantly operationalized provisioning. Everything from infrastructure to software to platforms is available and operationalized for any user to consume and pay for only what is used. This operationalization of provisioning transforms how IT is enabled in the AWS cloud.

Let’s think about what this all means for a moment. Think about your provisioning activity as a sequence of mouse clicks, drop-down menus, and check boxes. At the end of these simple steps, you’ve built a fully functioning data center in AWS. You didn’t have to buy a physical server, rack it in a controlled physical environment, cable the power and network, and then physically power the server up. You didn’t have to install the operating system or the applications, nor have to install a firewall device or create custom routes or do any of the traditional implementation activities an IT person would do in a traditional on-premises data center.

And that’s because AWS—by virtue of modernized data centers, automation, scripts, and software-defined networks—generated a code base for you to choose from a catalog and consequently created very complex virtual private data centers on Amazon-owned facilities, servers, disks, and network switches. Via this code, AWS opened up your ability to create a very efficient virtual data center, where your own data resides, but on “borrowed” servers, disks, and networks. And to rent these services, AWS made it very easy for you to pay on a consumption model (very cheaply compared to a traditional data center). And then you also get the benefits of a large, globally dispersed data center footprint with highly available technologies that can only be acquired and implemented by very, very large data center operators.

Where does DevOps come in?

Simply put, the code now allows you to create infrastructure just as you would have if you wrote/coded an application as a developer. This infrastructure as code now helps you, as a technology person, build (or develop) massively large and complex environments by writing code, which, when executed on AWS, builds you a customized data center based on your design and needs for software development.

The ability to develop repeatable code with customized attributes enables you, as the consumer of cloud services, to be a creator of a fully automated application and software development lifecycle. It transforms infrastructure into code, speeding up application development, testing, staging, and release points. And faster application and software development enables you to be more competitive.

DevOps makes it repeatable, dependable, efficient, and cost-effective to build and deliver software. It enables you to make repeatable cumbersome tasks involved in provisioning data centers and applications into repeatable and auditable tasks that can be run and re-run on demand or via event-driven actions. You can scale out based on need by running repeatable code, which you developed to operationalize your provisioning activity, but also scale down (reverse) the deployment in a similar operationalized de-provisioning activity.

DevOps brings you the kind of agility you can only have when you transform how you create complex solutions that require compute, storage, and network power just as you would if you wrote an application in a programming language. DevOps allows you to introduce continuous development into your software development process, and introduce infrastructure earlier into the software development lifecycle by giving you the ability to not only code applications but also the corresponding infrastructure that runs those applications. By bringing forward the infrastructure setup and awareness in the development process, you can speed up software releases and respond quickly to customer demands or security and zero-day exploits and vulnerabilities.

In a nutshell, DevOps makes your software development and delivery better and faster (and to some extent, cheaper).

Learn more about how Slalom leverages DevOps best practices to help clients build amazing things on AWS.

Ayman Husain is a technologist, IT strategist, advisor, and architect specializing in cloud solutions. He is Slalom Houston’s practice area lead for cloud and infrastructure. As an experienced leader and consultant, Ayman delivers transformative solutions enabling clients to modernize their data centers and IT operations. Follow him on Twitter: @aymanhusain.


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