Q&A: NephoScale CEO Bruce Templeton Talks DevOps-Supported Cloud
As companies continue to adopt a more DevOps-focused organizational structure, there is a growing demand for cloud infrastructure tools that are specifically designed for developers and IT operations staff to collaborate on projects.
In an effort to appeal to these DevOps-focused organizations, NephoScale recently designed and launched CloudScript 2.0, a completely revamped cloud infrastructure solution that features advanced orchestration and configuration management tools.
According to NephoScale, CloudScript 2.0 reduces the time it takes to provision and configure management tasks by up to 10-fold, outperforming what is currently available with Amazon Web Services CloudFormation.
In an email interview, NephoScale CEO Bruce Templeton discusses the new CloudScript 2.0 solution, its infrastructure orchestration and management tools, and the importance of designing cloud infrastructure platforms that support DevOps.
WHIR: How did NephoScale come to adopt this new focus on DevOps with the CloudScript 2.0 tool?
Bruce Templeton: The NephoScale development team has the benefit of having had the experience of building multiple versions of IaaS cloud service platforms in the past. During that process they came to realize that developing a platform that was designed with only providing on-demand services in mind was not going to deliver what is really necessary and possible in the future. They realized that for IaaS cloud services to be truly disruptive and transformational, and to maximize what cloud technology can do to increase organizational efficiency, it would be necessary to build a homogeneous and cohesive cloud system that would be truly considered a platform. This is how the concept of CloudScript, or what we call “treating infrastructure as code”, came into being. It could not be an amalgamation of services, it had to be a platform that services were built upon and would emerge from. Because when using CloudScript, infrastructure orchestration and management can be treated primarily as a software development activity, we believe organizations will benefit greatly from combining the adaption of DevOps and the use of CloudScript. We think they are a perfect match, in that this type of relationship between best practices and advanced software technology are the underpinnings for realizing what is possible with next generation cloud infrastructure services and more importantly how organizations can reap huge benefits from this marriage.
You recently said that cloud service providers must develop next-generation cloud infrastructure platforms that are built from the ground-up to support DevOps in order to stay relevant. Can you explain this statement?
BT: It became apparent to us early on in the design process that to build a next generation cloud services offering, there would need to be a focus on building a cohesive platform with an emphasis on orchestration and configuration management tools. During this same period, the realization by organizations that they could dramatically increase feature development flow and improve infrastructure stability and reliability through the implementation of DevOps was growing in momentum. It became apparent that we were developing a technology that could greatly contribute to and accelerate the adoption of DevOps. We felt that the benefits that could be derived from the adoption of DevOps, and the potential of what an IaaS platform could offer by truly “treating infrastructure as code”, were an obvious match. Our ream also knew that if a cloud IaaS platform was not built from the ground up with a holistic approach towards supporting advanced orchestration and configuration management capabilities, then getting really creative with the possibilities in this area down the road would prove to be problematic. This problem is often referred to as “technical debt” or “code debt”, which happens usually because of business pressures, a lack of process or understanding, or failing to build a platform with loosely coupled components thus limiting flexibility. We think there have been many development decisions made by the early IaaS providers without sufficiently considering the future implications. This is where transitioning their portfolio of service offerings into a cohesive next generation cloud platform that is well suited to support DevOps becomes difficult, and could prevent some from remaining relevant.
WHIR: How does the new website and logo facilitate this new focus on DevOps?
BT: The reason for the new logo is two-fold. With the recent announcement of the release of CloudScript 2.0 we felt it was a major turning point for NephoScale as a company. We also not only think the new logo looks more professional than the previous one, but by moving away from the previous logo which was merely a cloud to a spherical element with interconnecting parts, we are embracing our goal to create a global platform that also enables the interconnection of organizational elements. We think the term “cloud” is becoming somewhat ambiguous and is causing some people to become confused as to what is really happening in the area creating and managing infrastructure programmatically through the web. We like to think that the new logo is allowing us to focus our brand a little less around the often over-hyped term “cloud”, to a more concrete goal of enabling users to scale and automate their infrastructure globally and driving the adoption of DevOps within their organizations.
WHIR: From what I understand, CloudScript 2.0 is more than just an updated version of the original CloudScript that was launched over a year ago. Can you tell us what these significant changes are?
BT: CloudScript 2.0 is not merely an upgrade; it’s an entire technology overhaul. When we factored in the new requirements, and the principles behind CloudScript, such as dependency based programming, idempotency, enveloping and embedded languages, and distributed state machine, we determined that an “upgrade” to CloudScript 1.0 was insufficient. The original CloudScript 1.0 we launched in early 2011 was based upon JSON. It was primarily a batch processing mechanism and did not include support for idempotent operations, unmodified embedded languages, or dependency based programming, nor did it include the cloud language interpreter. The new recently announced CloudScript 2.0 supports all of these capabilities and more, and provides a framework for making a realization out of what the NephoScale development had envisioned early on in the process of designing and building our NephOS cloud platform technology. CloudScript 2.0 is a Domain Specific Language (DSL) that is similar in purpose to make, ant, or rake, and with the underlying distributed state machine architecture of its CloudScript interpreter they together open up powerful new possibilities for advanced workflow automation. It is primarily this improvement in workflow automation, and the unleashing of new opportunities to increase collaboration within organizations, that lead us to the focus on DevOps. CloudScript 2.0 was designed specifically to take advantage of agile development techniques and lifecycle management tools to allow for the continuous iteration and optimization of infrastructure. As an example of this, within CloudScript there is an integrated development environment that enables users to easily create, load, debug, and edit their infrastructure code. CloudScript leverages a thin client architecture which allows users to capture the operational intelligence of all of their applications in a single location. It provides a consistent template framework to build infrastructure code from, and then allows users to debug and tune it for fast error free production deployments. To sum it up, Cloudscript 2.0 allows users to manage all resources, applications stacks, code, and their associated dependencies in a collaborative, easy-to-use, automated, predictable, and centralized fashion.
WHIR: What are some advantages that CloudScript 2.0 has over Amazon Web Services?
BT: AWS and NephoScale are the only public IaaS cloud service providers that offer advanced cloud orchestration tools. Some of the significant advantages that NephoScale’s CloudScript has over AWS CloudFormation are support for idempotent operations. Idempotency means users can repeat or retry a configuration change as often as necessary without causing unintended effects. It simplifies programmability of the NephOS platform and reduces the number of needed configuration templates from upwards of 100 to always only one, vastly simplifying and accelerating the planning, provisioning, autoscaling, and on-going management of cloud resources. CloudScript Interpreter, a collaboration feature that makes CloudScript text files easily readable by both technical and non-technical users. Together, the NephoScale DSL and interpreter promote a new level of collaboration among organizational stakeholders, drastically improving efficiency and predictability in the planning and deployment of cloud resources. Embedded code can be included in its native form without alteration or change to the code. Includes support for embedded languages or code such as Bash, Perl, PHP, Ruby, etc. to be run on servers.