The traditional approach to application development and testing (dev/test) has involved racking servers, storage and networking gear in a corporate lab or data center. Today, with the wide availability of public cloud services, dedicated dev/test infrastructures are an inefficient place to invest scarce IT resources. In fact, it is becoming economically indefensible to build dev/test infrastructure entirely on-premises due to the bursty and transient nature of these workloads.
Public clouds have paved the way for a new approach to application development by accelerating access to resources and providing significant financial benefits— meeting the needs of both IT and business stakeholders. With DevOps methods that incorporate public clouds, agile dev/test is now within reach of any IT organization, regardless of size.
Hybrid clouds take this one step further by enabling agile, cloud-based dev/test while providing complete sovereignty over corporate data. The secret to success with this approach is a data fabric that can connect on-premises infrastructure with a variety of popular cloud-based development platforms.
The Ideal Dev/Test Lab
Normally, the dev/test process starts with provisioning of hardware in order to conduct tests. Then, replicas of production environment servers are deployed in this new dev/test environment. Finally, the network is configured to simulate the right amount of traffic that fully tests the setup.
Now, fast forward to the age of public cloud computing, where resources are limitless, you only pay for what you use, and you can easily make replicas of your production environment (maintaining the same network configurations) in just a few minutes.
In an ideal scenario, software developers would have access to a seemingly infinite pool of IT resources and datasets so that any number of tests could be run instantly and in parallel. And those resources would mirror the production environment, since testing in a real-world environment is essential for ensuring that the final results are of consistently high quality.
Bringing Vision to Reality with a Data Fabric
With a hybrid cloud built on NetApp storage, entire application data replicas can be created in seconds (as FlexClones) then split away from the parent project and efficiently moved between end points on a data fabric (using SnapMirror migration). This is particularly important within the context of continuous integration dev/test environments, so that the moment a developer checks in code, he or she can spin up multiple replicas of the revised application and run a complete battery of integration tests concurrently.
As application development moves into its latter stages, it becomes critically important to perform stress testing on an infrastructure that can simulate production workloads. At this stage, it’s also common to use real-world datasets that are either confidential or subject to privacy regulations. In order to maintain data sovereignty, while still relying on public cloud resources to simulate a production environment, a data fabric can be used to connect transient cloud compute resources to secure datasets housed on NetApp Private Storage (NPS).
With an NPS approach, data is placed “next to” public clouds (not “inside of”) and stored on private storage systems housed within secure, co-located data centers. New connections to cloud services can be added or existing connections between cloud providers quickly switched using the Equinix Cloud Exchange. In this way, an IT organization can use replicas of production environments; retain full control dev/test datasets; meet data compliance and sovereignty requirements; and benefit from the elasticity and economics of multiple cloud services.
More importantly, a data fabric creates choice as to where applications and data should reside throughout the application lifecycle. Application development can commence in public clouds, migrate to private storage during the later stages of development and testing, with an option to move applications to on-premises infrastructure (or not) once they are ready for production.
A Platform for Innovation
A dev/test approach that relies solely upon on-premises physical infrastructure is not only inefficient—it can also be an obstacle to innovation. The rapid rise of Agile Development, DevOps and Continuous Integration underscores the need to re-think traditional development practices. Hybrid clouds that are connected by a data fabric can bridge the gap between agile developers and security-conscious operations teams and enable cloud-based dev/test “labs” that foster innovation.
Agile Dev/Test at ING Direct (Video)
In this video, ING DIRECT Australia introduces its concept of a "Bank in a Box", a fully integrated dev/test solution that enables rapid provisioning of complete banking environments, accelerating time to market for new applications.