In the beginning, cloud cost savings were the focus for Spot. As we grew, our customers helped us understand that cloud cost reduction is just one of the many challenges they face when operating in the public cloud. Spot by NetApp has since invested in and developed multiple solutions that can promote FinOps best practices and equip DevOps with comprehensive infrastructure automation and optimization solutions for VMs and containers.
Now, we have reached another important milestone in our CloudOps portfolio, by helping organizations to shift left and control application changes earlier and closer to the development process. The story of Ocean CD is a natural fit to the existing Spot CloudOps portfolio and the evolution of Spot by NetApp.
Today, Spot by NetApp is excited to announce the availability of Ocean CD, a continuous delivery (‘CD’) product for Kubernetes applications.
Ocean CD is the newest member in our solutions for Kubernetes, and it’s the result of a journey with hundreds of Kubernetes users and customers that helped to build a true next generation CD product. Ocean CD combines the power of open source together with a feature set that can be achieved only with an enterprise-grade managed service.
Why do we think you need Ocean CD?
The introduction of Kubernetes and microservices architecture revolutionized the software release process, bringing incredible flexibility and speed. However, Kubernetes has also increased the potential blast radius followed by software changes, leading to lack of control over application behavior following new releases. DevOps and SREs enable and monitor these releases, but they are also triggered and owned by developers that are not Kubernetes or ‘Ops’ experts and in most cases do not have complete understanding of what is going on after committing a change. The average DevOps-to-Dev engineers ratio is 1:20, based on research with hundreds of companies Spot serves. This has created an unbearable situation where most platform leaders have low confidence in the robustness of their production environment
Meanwhile, most CD solutions do not provide a fully reliable control mechanism for what happens following a code update in terms of how the application behaves.
To achieve better understanding, developers need to capture real-time logs and metrics, conduct real-time analysis during and immediately following software changes, and avoid manual efforts, as they increase the chances of missing information or coming to the wrong conclusion.
Ocean CD was designed and developed, and is constantly being improved, to solve these pitfalls, allowing generic and reliable CD automation for developers using progressive deployment strategies like Canary deployments, continuous verification, failure policies, and observability. All this provides the organization with both automation and change control that allows frequent and high-quality software releases.
Starting the Ocean CD journey: The challenges that existing K8s CD solutions haven’t solved yet
There are three categories for CD solutions: homegrown, open source, and commercial. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Over the years, we’ve heard from our customers about many of the common challenges they face with existing CD solutions.
First up is the cost of scale. With commercial solutions, costs can easily become a burden. But this cost exists also with homegrown or open source solutions; over time, it’s hard to maintain the expenses for hundreds of services and multiple environments. The more you deploy, the more you can fail. This can be easily time-consuming for developers who have to understand the incident, re-engineer, and search for community support. It’s also time-consuming for DevOps, who are stuck with troubleshooting and finding quick fixes. It damages the organization’s efficiency, resulting in fewer deployments and longer releases just to stay in control. And let’s not forget the damaged customer experience.
Next, both developers and DevOps are looking to have better automation for the release process. This means taking action on real-time application performance data with every new change. Reliable automation and observability are big pains. Customers are still struggling when they ask to make sure that everything is working after new releases. If something isn’t working, they need to have relevant automation that makes sure the applications are always stable and the issue is caught in a lower-level environment. Finally, they need immediate alerts if and when something does go wrong.
Other common issues that our customers report include:
- Lack of enterprise capabilities: permissions, notifications manager, single sign-on (SSO), support, and a centralized console
- Difficult setup at scale: across clusters, clouds, environments, and workloads
- Developer-friendly UI: DevOps may be the enablers, but developers tend to be the power users. Therefore, a UI for developers is a must-have.
- Inability to maintain governance: Other solutions are often missing the capability to easily create and maintain generic deployment strategies and policies
These challenges have helped shape the current Ocean CD feature set and continue to help drive our product roadmap. Based on the above challenges, and many more insights provided by DevOps experts and developers, we have developed the Ocean CD experience:
In the coming blogs, we’ll cover in detail some of the key capabilities that we’ve developed based on market feedback we’ve received:
- Advanced rolling updates
- Verification templates with ‘Custom Phases’
- Granular permissions for developers
- Integration with the Spot notification center
- Dashboards and cross-cluster rollout data
Ocean CD is constantly releasing new features and capabilities that are based on Spot by NetApp Kubernetes users’ feedback. We have several exciting releases coming soon:
- New templates and quick enablement wizards, ready to integrate with whatever tools you are currently using
- New functionalities that allow users to compare updated version releases with stable version performances. This will help users that don’t have clear metric definitions to measure their new releases.
- Improved integration with CI pipelines (e.g., Jenkins) during the rollout process.
- Easy export of Ocean CD unique data and analysis into the organization-centric monitoring platforms.
- Define an overall release plan with dependencies and conditions for multiple services over multiple environments.
Developing Ocean CD was a journey into the minds of DevOps and developers, the brightest user personas that the tech industry has with the most demanding requirements. With the perspective we have gained over time, the reason for most of these requirements was that it’s not enough to have disruptive technologies like K8s or microservices architectures that allow R&D organizations to do more. There is also a need to control these technologies and use them in a safe way to make the most out of them.
Ocean CD was developed to allow organizations to control changes in production or any other environment, using reliable DevOps automation. With Ocean CD, both developers and DevOps can identify the change, manage the change, collect data on the impact of the change, automate its analysis as part of the change release process, and make better decisions accordingly.
Get started with Ocean CD
Ocean CD is now available and fully supported for production use. For a limited promotional period, Ocean CD is free to use until October 31, 2023. Get started with the Ocean CD Workshop for a quick POC. In just fifteen minutes, you’ll go from zero to Ocean CD hero with a fully automated progressive deployment strategy and observability.