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AWS re:Inforce 2019 – After the Show

The inaugural AWS Cloud security conference—AWS re:Inforce—took place on June 25-26, 2019 in Boston. As an Advanced Consulting Partner, Go2Group participated in this two-day conference, jam-packed with amazing  keynotes, breakout sessions, Q&As, hands-on workshops, training and certification, and much more. Well over 8,000 attendees descended on the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to connect with the cloud security community, deep dive into the latest approaches to security best practices and risk management utilizing AWS services, features, and tools, and most importantly, have fun.

The event culminated in a sweat-inducing Jam Lounge — AWS re:Inforce’s version of a hackathon — which gave participants complex security scenarios that they needed to solve against simulated environments. Jay Lacroix (Director of Cloud Service and Operations) and Tre King (DevSecOps Engineer) from Go2Group  participated in the hackathon and finished twelfth among 275 teams in the event!

A big THANK YOU to AWS for organizing a top-notch security conference that provided us the opportunity to learn more about ways to eliminate security blind spots and better manage cyber risk. We are high on this incredible energy and look forward to connecting again next year!

Cloud Migration: Four Common Pitfalls and Surprising Gotchas

Cloud computing is now emerging as the default choice for organizations to deploy and manage their applications. Although most experts believe there are few drawbacks to moving applications to the cloud, there can be plenty of potential problems along the way. Success is a lot more likely if you are cognizant of the hidden pitfalls associated with the move. In this blog post, we delineate the top four cloud migration mistakes that organizations make and highlight our recommendations to ensure a smooth cloud migration:

#1: Migrating everything at once

Cloud migration can be a complex process, with a significant impact on various teams, departments and their day-to-day processes. Attempting to migrate all at once can temporarily cripple your operations and is not advisable. Plus, not every application is going to cost less simply by running it in the cloud. The ability to identify and pick the right application profiles for the cloud is therefore of crucial importance when it comes to cloud migration.

When determining which workloads should be prioritized for migration, elasticity can be a key factor to consider. This implies that applications that involve high variable usage (sometimes referred to as “bursty” apps) are a better fit for cloud environments. Similarly, applications that deal with non-restrictive data may be more appropriate candidates for deployment in the public cloud. In contrast, applications that are laden with technical debt and require more maintenance and repair are not suitable for cloud platforms. That is because maintenance and repair of cloud apps requires you to define “shared responsibilities” with your cloud vendor. Maintenance is far simpler, when your server is located in your office.

#2: Not prioritizing security

The cloud is not just a new technology but also an entirely new operating model, a unique place where distributed data calls for a new approach to security. The challenge lies not in the security of the cloud itself, but in using the cloud securely. “Through 2022, at least 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault,” according to a leading research and advisory company. While public cloud vendors ensure rigorous controls and security around their data center environment, organizations still need to put in place appropriate levels of security around their own practices.

From a policy perspective, it is vital that your security teams are involved in carrying out a due diligence process that covers — who is in charge of what areas, what the responsibilities of the cloud vendor are, and what security controls need to be put in place internally to meet security and compliance requirements. Core to this process is understanding the key areas of data integrity, infrastructure security, data encryption, where data is held, how backup data is restored, and guarantees included in case of an outage or lapse in service. A cloud architecture designed with a security-first mindset is critical for security of cloud services. Robust processes focused on data safety and recoverability (in the event of a disaster) are also vital. Additionally, routine monitoring and updating is also key. Best practices dictate consistent review of the cloud architecture and ensuring compliance with cybersecurity protocols, so that potential problems can be addressed before they occur and catastrophic business impact avoided.

#3: Overlooking hidden costs

If you do not have proper cost governance in place, hidden charges can make your cloud bill considerably more expensive than you budgeted for. With cloud computing, it is vital to continuously monitor what resources are being used, who is using it, and how much it is adding to your costs. With dynamic application development and system configurations being in a constant state of change, what often ends up happening is that server instances are spun up for a particular requirement, and then left idle for weeks and even months together. Such an oversight is inevitable when cloud administrators do not carry out regular system audits or do not communicate with each other. However, with usage-based metering on leased VM resources, the charges creep up stealthily with every moment the resource runs and you end up paying for an over-inflated bill.

There are several other issues as well that can catch you by surprise if you are not careful. For instance, when organizations use higher-level features like serverless computing, which leverage resources in a variable way, users are often not clear about its cost implications. Another area of spending that is often undervalued is the cost of refactoring systems. Refactoring applications can be expensive, but is often necessary to make them cloud-native with APIs and ensure better fit for cloud environments.

#4: Not getting your people on board

Your organization might have embarked upon some ambitious cloud transformation program, but it might not yield results unless your people are on board. When cloud computing becomes an integral part of the development lifecycle, it requires transformation in day-to-day processes as well as activities. Most teams, from development to operations and security, will feel the ripple effects. With the abstraction of most of the underlying infrastructure layers, your DevOps teams would need to take complete ownership of the end-to-end process of building and running applications. This inevitably means an enormous change for organizations.

In such a scenario, it becomes important to come up with ways that can motivate and enable teams to be self-managing and self-organizing, and also promote greater ownership and accountability. Organizations need to invest in creating a training ecosystem to facilitate skill development and empower teams to maximize the value of cloud. Several leading cloud vendors, such as AWS offer training courses for their products. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect program, for instance, deep dives into AWS and its services, covers architectural best practices, and estimates AWS costs.

Whether you are just dipping your toes in the water or looking to get more out of the cloud, the above recommendations should help your organization plan for a safer and more persistent cloud strategy. We recommend partnering with the right experts, who can help you build a cloud migration plan that is based on a hype-free assessment of how it can and should address your unique business needs. Always be prepared to unlearn some traditionally held notions and learn new ones to make it work.

Contact us to learn how our experts can help you and your organization take the leap into the cloud.

Five Reasons to Move Your DevOps Architecture to the Cloud

Agility and speed are two of the most sought-after superlatives in today’s competitive digital economy. Not surprisingly, these adjectives also apply to organizations’ internal IT departments. The pressure on engineering teams to increase the rate at which they deliver software has significantly grown over the years, resulting in a massive movement around DevOps today. However, working with evolving DevOps practices calls for enhanced levels of agility and speed to deployment. Cloud is a direct response to that need and provides the perfect platform for businesses to keep up with changing IT innovations and drive greater efficiencies. As it turns out, there is a strong correlation between a sophisticated cloud environment and an organization’s ability to execute a high performing software delivery cycle. According to the State of DevOps 2018 report, teams that leverage all of cloud computing’s essential characteristics — defined by NIST as on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service —are 23 times more likely to be high performers. It is important to understand how cloud computing complements DevOps for a successful IT transformation.

The significance of cloud computing vis-á-vis DevOps

Enhanced scalability

By shedding traditional hardware inventories and offloading your CI/CD, testing and DevOps into the cloud, you can ensure that scalability becomes an integral part of application development ecosystem, which in turn facilitates reduced infrastructure costs and increased global reach. Cloud technology enables you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. With AWS EC2 and Google Compute Engine, for instance, you can launch VMs on demand, predefine sizes and even leverage Custom Machine Types to meet very specific requirements. Your DevOps teams can deliver applications, code, and services with automatic scaling capabilities, allowing them to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. They can even isolate services for specific use-cases.

Improved efficiencies, faster time to market

The use of cloud enables organizations to improve developer efficiencies at an individual level with cloud tools, application-specific infrastructure, and self-service catalogs and pace up the development process. Application-specific infrastructure allows developers to gain more control over their own components, resulting in reduced wait times. Self-service methods for provisioning infrastructure (using AWS Service Catalog) allows developers faster access to development environments, without the need to wait for IT operations to provision resources for them. With such flexibility, they can quickly conduct new experiments, fail fast and just as easily succeed in bringing new products to market faster.

Fosters a culture of collaboration 

At its core, DevOps is essentially a cross-joint effort that relies on seamless and effective collaboration between development and operations teams in order to meet business needs. The cloud provides the perfect platform to foster such a culture of communication. The use of cloud as a single common language dissolves the separation between teams and allows everyone to combine their efforts and learn new approaches at the same time. Including operations groups in the development procedure and the other way around helps to create a meeting point that leads to strong team dynamics and facilitates sharing of understanding and skills.

Streamlined technology stack 

Modern applications need complex technology stacks that require great effort for creation and configuration and it certainly is a huge challenge to manage a DevOps practice when components are all over the place. The centralized nature of cloud computing provides a standard platform for testing, deployment, and production for DevOps automation and a single window that lets you view, manage and control your entire DevOps practice. In Google Cloud Platform (GCP), there is something known as a Cloud Console, which helps you view your datastores, networking policies, web applications, data analytics, VMs, developer services, and much more. 

Optimal use of resources

It is much easier to track the use of development resources and associated costs, when leveraging cloud-based DevOps. Clouds offer usage-based accounting, which tracks the use of resources by application, developer, user, data, etc. and enables users to optimize performance by making the necessary adjustments.

Together, DevOps and cloud computing are interlocking parts of a strategy to drive meaningful IT transformation that directly impacts business goals. You can start by dipping a toe in to figure out which of your services will work well in the cloud and cut the chances of mistakes. Once any apprehensions about potential risks associated with the shift are addressed and your DevOps practice sets foot firmly in the cloud, it becomes easier to open the door to continuous experimentation and several new opportunities with enhanced levels of agility and speed of deployment. For example, you can start new initiatives around event-driven, serverless compute and explore if it fits well with your organization. Learning what works, and how it works for your organization, will show you how to propagate it more widely.

Contact us to find out how we can enable a seamless transition to the cloud for your business.

2018 in retrospect: A Year of New Ventures and Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway A lot can happen in 12 months — and we spent all year round listening to our stakeholders and helping them deliver enhanced customer experience! 2018 was a year of grandeur — great accomplishments, new ventures, new connections, and most importantly we were awarded for our efforts. Strengthening our core offerings — DevOps, Application Modernization, and Cloud, our services help businesses achieve digital transformation and business agility. While you will see a lot happening in 2019, we can say proudly that 2018 was a year of learning and new experiences — for our clients and us!
“We have an outstanding core of employees and I have all confidence that we will exceed our 2018 performance significantly in 2019 and beyond.” — Tom Stiling, CEO Go2Group

Get a glimpse of all the action that unfolded in Go2Group in 2018!

Take a look at some of the top posts of 2018!

December My First 60 Days as CEO of Go2Group In October 2018, I decided to accept the job as CEO of Go2Group — going operational again after nearly a decade behind the scenes of various Board of Director rooms across the globe. November DevSecOps – How to Be Swift and Secure While a growing number of organizations continue to implement, expand, and perfect their DevOps game, the focus on speed to market at the expense of security is making them increasingly vulnerable to the risk of cyberthreats and data breaches. The risks of security missteps remain real, immediate, and extremely costly, as demonstrated by the recent HBO hack that led to the leak of two episodes of its widely popular show ‘Game of Thrones’, or the massive security breach at Equifax exposing the sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans. It is becoming clear that a secure DevOps process is critical to the business of software creation and launching. Drive Faster Time to Market with synapseRT 9.3 The increase in ALM tools in the market sans test management capabilities has surely upped the need for test management software or tools that can combine flexibility with traceability, usability, and transparency — arming your testers, developers, and QAs to take on any testing challenge. synapseRT is here with its upgraded 9.3 version for Jira, packed with interesting features that enhance traceability, assigning, and tracking — strengthening it as a holistic solution. How Jenkins X Is the Integrated CI/CD Solution for Kubernetes Are you grappling with automating CI/CD for modern, cloud applications? In an ever-evolving technology landscape, you need the perfect assortment of tools, technologies, and practices to achieve the true benefits of DevOps. Cloudbees Jenkins X project is a Kubernetes-native CI/CD platform for developing cloud-native applications. Why Is Kubernetes Ideal for CI/CD and Reinforcing DevOps Goals? In the current scenario, when companies are struggling with setting up their CI/CD pipelines for cloud-based applications, Kubernetes, a powerful open-source platform for automating the deployment, scaling, and management of application containers across hosts, has reinforced DevOps goals and proven to be the ideal solution to CI/CD. It not only improves traditional DevOps processes, including speed, efficiency, and resiliency, but also solves newer problems that comes with containers and microservices-based application architectures. September Go2Group Named “Smartest Partner of the Year” at DevOps World | Jenkins World 2018 At last week’s DevOps World | Jenkins World 2018 event at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, Go2Group was announced as the “Smartest Partner of the Year.” One of the biggest events on the tech calendar, DevOps World I Jenkins World is a highlight for DevOps practitioners using Jenkins for continuous delivery and is a multi-day event comprised of sessions, workshops, training and other learning opportunities. The Partners of the Year Awards were selected by the CloudBees channel team and presented to CloudBees partners in seven partner categories. Criteria for the awards included: number of customer engagements, a proven expertise in DevOps, and demonstrated delivery of DevOps solutions to mutual customers. The Biggest News From the Product Keynote at Atlassian Summit 2018 Atlassian’s annual developer conference, Atlassian Summit, is currently underway in Barcelona. The event invites agile enthusiasts and passionate Atlassian users to network with industry leaders, share agile development strategies and inspire change. August synapseRT 9.2 Is Here with New Parametrization Feature Parametrization is particularly important in an agile software environment. As your agile organization evolves, testing needs to hit the accelerator and keep pace with an accelerating development lifecycle, while still maintaining a high standard of software quality in order to fulfill customer expectations. With our new synapseRT 9.2 release for Atlassian Jira, we have upped our test execution game with test case parameters. This will allow testers to run the same baselined test case several times with multiple data inputs at runtime specified at the test step level, without having to create duplicate test cases — saving a lot of time! June DevOps: The Key to Speed up Your Digital Transformation Digital transformation has triggered companies to relook at existing business models and their approach to operationalize day-to-day processes. Nowhere is this more evident than software development. To meet the demands of advanced innovation and quicker delivery of new applications and services, IT teams are transitioning to DevOps models that close the gap between development and operations. May Proud partner of a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant As an Atlassian Platinum and Enterprise Solution Partner, Go2Group is proud to share that Atlassian has been named a leader in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools for the second time. Atlassian’s EAP software products Jira Software and Portfolio for Jira help teams successfully practice agile development and release great software at scale. Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Adopting DevOps Is DevOps implementation easy? The likes of Netflix and Facebook have shown continuous improvement reiterating the technical and business benefits of DevOps — shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency, and faster time to market. On the other hand, a high percentage of enterprises are still figuring it out — oscillating between short and quick successes and failing to make the big jump to mainstream. April Emerging Trends in Software Testing Through 2018 In this age of digital transformation, testing is more than just a step or phase in the software development life cycle; it is an integral process that runs parallel to development. In the past few years, the testing industry has witnessed significant scaling due to the introduction of advanced technology. With the increasing application of artificial intelligence and automation, there were a few areas that successfully took testing to the next level, such as adoption of DevOps practices, tools, and applications, and test automation for web applications. March Four Factors to Consider While Choosing a Test Management Tool As a tester, developer, or test manager, you must love shopping — specifically for test management tools? But the dilemma is that you have too many options, right? The pressure to vet software to make sure it is market ready is increasingly becoming complex and tricky, and vendors are not making it easy by providing a myriad of multifunctional test management solutions. Have you considered narrowing down your options with simple ‘what can it do for me’ pointers? February A Strategic Partnership with CloudBees® to Bring the Power of DevOps to Businesses Globally Enterprises have a big challenge ahead of them. With experts predicting that DevOps is moving towards mainstream implementation, organizations — including federal agencies — are under tremendous pressure to deliver high-velocity and quality software, increase standardization, and implement best practices. Adopting DevOps practices and utilizing automation technology — which aids businesses with their digital transformation process — are more significant now than ever. January 10 Nifty DevOps Tools in 2018 Let’s face it — no single tool can offer all the capabilities to get you through your DevOps approach. You need to find the right mix of tools, strategies, and teams to suit their workflows and approaches. With 2018 projecting a movement for DevOps into mainstream implementation, this becomes even more relevant. DevOps Goes Mainstream: Top Trends for 2018 DevOps gets a jumpstart in 2018 with predictions of an early mainstream adoption and implementation. Analysts, IT leaders, and DevOps experts declared 2017 as ‘the year of DevOps’ and have predicted some major trends for DevOps in 2018. After digging deep and picking the brains of a few DevOps experts, we believe that DevOps will slowly enter the turf of mainstream adoption but it comes with barriers that may continue to exist through 2020. We can only be prepared for what’s coming! Five Tips to Kick Some Butt in Your DevOps Journey “The key to following the continuous delivery path is to continually question your own assumptions about what’s possible.” — Jeff Sussna The benefits of DevOps are clear — high-performance, faster deployment, and quicker response to crisis. Businesses today are either getting started with DevOps or have it in pockets but find it difficult to scale up to an enterprise-wide implementation. Protect Your Atlassian Suite With Two-Factor Authenticator Are you using old authentication methods that make your account information vulnerable to security threats? Gain control over who can access your Atlassian tools with Go2Group’s Two-Factor Authenticator app for your Atlassian Suite. As we kick off 2019 with aggressive goals and big ambitions, we thank you for making 2018 unforgettable. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Your greatest integration challenges have nothing to do with the cloud

Cloud integration and iPaaS

Did you read the headline correctly? Are we suggesting that cloud integration isn’t the dominant issue in modern IT infrastructure design? With all the hype surrounding cloud integration, the IT audience might think that everyone is embracing the cloud. When Gartner released its second “Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), Worldwide” in April 2014, it may have seemed to the masses that iPaaS was a mainstream technology. While the iPaaS market may have warranted its own Magic Quadrant, only a single vendor reported iPaaS revenue in excess of $50 million during that time. It’s true that iPaaS is on the rise. The growth of the cloud integration and iPaaS market was a major reason behind Dell’s acquisition of Boomi and IBM’s acquisition of Cast Iron Systems. In its 2013 annual report, IBM declared cloud as one of its three key marketing strategies. Furthermore, Informatica is investing to capitalize on the “four distinct billion dollar market opportunities” of cloud integration, master data management, data integration for next-generation analytics, and data security. Even Gartner currently lists more than 30 iPaaS providers on the market.

The real integration concerns

All that said, it’s useful to note that other non-cloud, non-iPaaS integrations will continue to be much more vital for mission-critical operations for the foreseeable future. On-premise, behind-the-firewall applications and their respective integration requirements are driving legacy systems. According to DZone’s 2014 Guide to Enterprise Integration, a survey polling over 500 IT professionals, only 37% of organizations have managed on-premise-to-cloud integrations. Those who have managed cloud-to-cloud integration total 15%.

Technology pundits revisited

Not content with the results of just one survey, I did a little digging. When searching the terms “cloud integration” and “iPaas” on SearchCloudApplications.com, TechTarget’s thought leadership microsite, I came across a very interesting 2012 article, SaaS: Confusion around cloud and on-premises app-integration. In the article, Saurabh Sharma, research firm Ovum’s senior analyst of middleware, mentioned that the “iPaaS reference architectures and use cases proposed by some devoted proponents include imaginary integration capabilities that no solution can ever deliver.” Also according to Sharma, in 2012, “only 6.9% of the global spending on integration middleware was accounted for by cloud-based integration platforms/services, with the share of iPaaS being less than 3%.” This week, I contacted Sharma to see if either his sentiment or analysis has changed. He replied, “All cloud-based integration platforms/services (including iPaaS, cloud-based B2B integration services, and other cloud-based middleware provisions) are expected to account for around 14% of total integration middleware spending in 2015.” He added that “for the same time period, iPaaS’s share will be around 5%.” Furthermore, Ovum predicts that the global iPaaS market will hit $940 million by 2019. “Very, very few mission-critical, complex-integration applications have even been considered for cloud migration,” said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp, echoing Ovum’s sentiment in 2012. “The much-touted, huge market opportunity for iPaaS tools and services isn’t a reality today.” Moving to 2015, I asked Nolle if this was still the case. He responded, “We’re starting to see companies design hybrid applications to address component mobility and integration across cloud boundaries. So far, most of it tends to put front-end web-like components of apps in the cloud and leave the mission-critical pieces in the data center. Within that latter group, not much is changing.”

Go2Group’s stance

Go2Group is not discounting either cloud integration or iPaaS. In fact, we’ve selected industry leader MuleSoft as our technology platform for these future-proofing capabilities; however we want to focus on the reality over the hype. Whatever platform you choose, the most important thing is to have a rationale. IT and DevOps teams need to build systems that just work, built on platforms we can depend on and scale for years to come.