Speaking at Javagruppen, the Danish JUG annual conference

The guys at Javagruppen, the Danish JUG, are doing their annual conference on February 11th and 12th.

The theme for this year is “Java, a cloudy affair”, and I’ll be speaking on building and testing in the cloud, using Apache Maven, Continuum, TestNG, Selenium,… and how to take full advantage of cloud features for software development, aligned with my previous talks.

This year the conference will be in a 5-star hotel and spa in the middle of Denmark, and I gotta say I look forward to it, seems they know how to choose a location (last year they did it at a Castle).

You can still sign up if you want to go.

Comwell Kellers Park

Cloud Computing opportunities in the development (build-test-deploy) space

You heard the word “cloud” everywhere, running applications on the cloud, scaling with the cloud,… but not so often from the development lifecycle perspective: code, commit, test, deploy to QA, release, etc but it brings fundamental changes to this aspect too.

The scenario

If you belong to, or manage, a group of developers, you are doing at least some sort of automated builds with continuous integration. You have continuous integration servers, building your code on specific schedules, not as often as you would like, when developers commit changes. The number of projects grow and you add more servers for the new projects, mixing and matching environments for different needs (linux, windows, os x,…)

The problem and the solution

The architecture we use for our Maestro 3 product is composed of one server that handles all the development lifecycle assets. Behind the scenes we use proven open source projects: Apache Continuum for distributed builds, Apache Archiva for repository management, Sonar for reporting, Selenium for multienvironment integration and load testing. And we add Morph mCloud private cloud solution, which is also based on open source projects such as Eucalyptus or Puppet.

We have multiple Continuum build agents doing builds, and multiple Selenium agents for webapp integration testing, as well as several application servers for continuous deployment and testing.

  • limited capacity
    • problem: your hardware is limited, and provision and setup of new servers requires a considerable amount of time
    • solution: assets are dynamic, you can spin off new virtual machines when you need them, and shuffle infrastructure around in a matter of minutes with just few clicks from the web interface. The hybrid cloud approach means you can start new servers in a public cloud, Amazon EC2, if you really need to
  • capacity utilization
    • problem: you need to setup less active projects in the same server as more active ones to make sure servers are not under/over-utilized
    • solution: infrastructure is shared across all projects. If a project needs it more often than another then it’s there to be used
  • scheduling conflicts
    • problem: at specific times, i.e. releases, you need to stop automatic jobs to ensure resources are available for those builds
    • solution: a smart queue management can differentiate between different build types (ie. continuous builds, release builds) and prioritize
  • location dependence
    • problem: you need to manage the infrastructure, knowing where each server is and what is it building
    • solution: a central view of all the development assets for easier management: build agents, test agents or application servers
  • continuous growing
    • problem: new projects are being added while you are trying to manage and optimize your current setup
    • solution: because infrastructure is shared adding new projects is just a matter of scaling wide the cloud, without assigning infrastructure to specific projects
  • complexity in process
    • problem: multiply that for the number of different stages in your promotion process: development environment, QA, Staging, Production
    • solution: you can keep independent networks in the cloud while sharing resources like virtual machine templates for your stack for instance
  • long time-to-market
    • problem: transition from development to QA to production is a pain point because releases and promotion is not automated
    • solution: compositions (workflows) allow to design and automate the steps from development to production, including manual approval
  • complexity in organization:
    • problem: in large organizations, multiply that for the number of separate entities, departments or groups that have their own separate structure
    • solution: enabling self provisioning you can assign quotas to developers or groups to start servers as they need them in a matter of minutes from prebuilt templates

Why a private cloud?

  • cost effectiveness: development infrastructure is running continuously. Global development teams make use of it 24×7
  • bandwidth usage: the traffic between your source control system and the cloud can be expensive, because it’s continuously getting the code for building
  • security restrictions: most companies don’t like their code being exported anywhere outside their firewall. Companies that need to comply with regulations (ie. PCI) have strong requirements on external networks
  • performance: in a private cloud you can optimize the hardware for your specific scenario, reducing the number of VMs needed for the same job compared to public cloud providers
  • heterogeneous environments: if you need to develop in different environments then there are chances that the public cloud service won’t be able to provide them

The new challenges

  • parallelism, you need to know the dependencies between components to know what needs to be built before what
  • stickyness, or how to take advantage of the state of the agents to start builds in the same ones if possible, ie. agents that built a project before can do a source control update instead of a checkout, or have the dependencies already in the filesystem
  • asset management, when you have an increasing number of services running, stoping and starting as needed, you need to know what’s running and where, not only at hardware level but at service level: build agents, test agents and deployment servers.

The new vision

  • you can improve continuous integration as developers checkin code because the barrier to add new infrastructure is minimal, given you have enough hardware in your cloud or if you use external cloud services, which means reduced time to find problems
  • developers have access to infrastructure they need to do their jobs, for instance start an exact copy of the production environment to fix an issue by using a cloud template that they can get up and running in minutes and tear down at the end, not incurring in high hardware costs
  • less friction and easier interaction with IT people as developers can self provision infrastructure, if necessary shuffling virtual machines that they no longer need for the ones they needed

By leveraging the cloud you can solve existing problems in your development lifecycle and at the same time you will be able to do things that you would not even consider because the technology made it complicated or impossible to do. Definitely something worth checking out for large development teams.

Maestro 3 is going to be released this week at InterOp New York (come over and say hi if you are around) but we are already demoing the development snapshots to clients and at conferences like JavaOne.

Maven 3.0 released!

Maven 3.0 is finally out after a long long time in progress!

What’s new?

Behind the scenes a LOT has changed, but for a Maven user or plugin developer you shouldn’t see many differences. Particularly, backwards compatibility was a must for this release.

New features include:

  • Better POM validation and warning/error messages. Pay attention at the beginning of the build where you can see notices about your POM configuration.
  • Parallel builds. Use several threads to build multiproject POMs, analyzing the dependencies between modules to determine the ordering.
  • Stability and predictability, changes in classloading, dependency ordering and multiproject building make the build to behave more consistently.

Changes include:

  • No more site plugin as you know it. Configure the new Maven Site plugin, or better, install Sonar (highly recommended).
  • profiles.xml is no longer used
  • Maven 1 repository layouts are no longer supported

Read all the release notes and compatibility notes.

Upgrade!

  1. Download Maven 3.
  2. Check compatibility notes.
  3. Upgrade the plugins to compatible versions if needed.
  4. Configure the new Maven Site plugin, or move to Sonar.

See other notes on Maven 3 from Brett Porter, and if you are going to ApacheCON, he will be giving a training session covering Maven 3.0 too.

Eclipse IAM WTP support, now EARs too

I recently had some time to spend in Eclipse IAM, working on improving the WTP support.

Version 0.11.0 already had good support for WAR projects, including war overlays (which was a bit tricky to implement in Eclipse). Now the last builds of the coming 0.12.0 version have EAR support.

You can import your Maven EAR projects and Eclipse will recognize the Maven-generated application.xml and configure automatically the dependencies to the other WAR projects opened in the workspace, with no extra configuration from you. And from the usual WTP "Run in Server" wizard you can run the EAR project and all associated WAR files in your favorite application server.

You can install the development builds of 0.12 from http://q4e.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/updatesite-dev/ until it’s released, and check the installation instructions for requirements or if you have issues. For help and feedback, we have a newsgroup at Eclipse.

Eclipse IAM 0.11.0, Archiva 1.3, Continuum 1.3.5

This is definitely release week! After Archiva 1.3 and Continuum 1.3.5 beta, I’ve just pushed the new release of Eclipse IAM 0.11.0:

This new version includes most notably

P2 Update site is published at http://q4e.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/updatesite-iam/

Ganymede users (Eclipse 3.4) should make sure they have added all the update sites listed in the installation instructions. If P2 complains about missing dependencies, check the update sites again.

Adopters of the latest and greatest Eclipse Galileo can install from the update site as usual.

If upgrading from Q4E 0.8.1 or earlier, some extra steps must be followed

The list of changes is available on the eclipse wiki.

Note that this is not an official Eclipse IAM release to allow our users to enjoy the progress made until we complete the move to the foundation and clear all the IP issues involving the maven embedder.

Continuum-ruby

continuum-ruby is a Ruby library to interact with Apache Continuum, using the XML-RPC interface and enabling access to the working copy directories. continuum-ruby is now available in the Continuum Sandbox.

More info on the Continuum XML-RPC interface:

Example

continuum = Continuum::Continuum.new("my.continuum.host", 8080, "admin", "password", "/continuum"

# xml-rpc interface
xml_rpc = Continuum::XmlRpc.new(continuum)
ok, result = xml_rpc.build_project(1)
error = Continuum.parse_error(result) if !ok

# getting working copy files
working_copy = Continuum::WorkingCopy.new(continuum)
test_results = working_copy.get(1, "target/surefire-reports", "emailable-report.html")
files = working_copy.dir(1, "target")
files.each do |file|
file_content = working_copy.get(1, "target", file)
end

Maven, Amazon EC2 and SpringSource Cloud Foundry

You may have heard about the just announced SpringSource Cloud Foundry and how it is based on the CloudTools project, that includes a Maven plugin to deploy Java EE applications to Amazon EC2, starting the images as part of the build process.

Some time ago I started another Maven plugin, the Amazon EC2 Maven plugin, which allows you to start and stop EC2 AMIs as part of your build process. Unlike CloudTools, it’s a lower level plugin that can start any AMI, a very different goal.

My use case? starting Selenium Grid Remote Control images for different environments and browsers before the integration tests start, wait for the images to be online, run the integration tests, and shutdown the images. Check my previous Enterprise Build and Test in the Cloud entry for more details.

You could also have your AMIs with your webserver, db,… pre-installed, start it, deploy using the Maven Cargo plugin to any container of your choice, and shutdown the image at the end of the tests.

The plugin allows all the configuration options than the EC2 API does, because it’s based on the Typica EC2 library. Start any number of images, associate elastic IPs, choose availability zones,…

Hope you find it useful.