Monday, June 30, 2008

Build and deployment syzygy!

The combination of Subversion, CruiseControl, Ant & Maven with ControlTier has proven to be a powerful unification in the build & deployment universe!

Subversion's provision for committing sets of files labeled with a unique revision number (per repository) provides build numbering as part of a broader release version scheme.

CruiseControl's ability to format and present build output based on custom (Ant and Maven) builders provides a highly visible means of managing builds in the project context.

Ant & Maven deliver comprehensive build tooling providing the means to create packages from a given source base that can be used both for development and release.

To return to the astronomical metaphor, ControlTier is the fifth planet - the "Jupiter" of build and release tools if you like - in the syzygy that really makes this alignment of tools a powerful combination!

When ControlTier's "Elements 2.0" Java Server Module Library is used with version 3.1 of our framework, or "Elements 3.2" is combined with version 3.2 of the framework (due for general availability by the end of July) to automate the build and release cycle, the full power of the integrated tool-set is revealed:
  1. The Elements "AntBuilder" and "MavenBuilder" modules use Subversion's "Last Changed Revision" numbers as "build" numbers that are combined with optional "major", "minor" and "release" version attributes to support automatic generation of "n.n.n.n" package "buildstamps". Automatic generation of package version numbers that meet site convention is critical to continuous integration based automated builds.
  2. The modules include a command to generate a CruiseControl project definition for inclusion in "config.xml". Management of CruiseControl's configuration and operation is therefore completely automated by ControlTier.
  3. The modules also include "shim" scripts that serve as adapters to allow the standard CruiseControl "maven2" and "ant" builders to indirectly invoke Antdepo/Ctl which, in turn, executes the module's (build) command (note that Antdepo/Ctl can also be directly called using CruiseControl's "exec" builder). This approach preserves CruiseControl's ability to format build output while allowing ControlTier to manage the release numbering scheme and guarantee predictable builds.
  4. Since ControlTier's standard Build workflow (checkout, build, import) is "wedged" between CruiseControl and your Ant/Maven based build, we can both manage keeping the working files up to date ahead of each build as well as automatically finding packages produced by the build and importing them into our repository. The standard build workflow provides a solid bridge from build to deployment.
  5. It is also possible to use ControlTier's standard Update workflow (build, upgrade, deploy) to include automatic deployment to a "smoketest" environment for testing with tools such as Selenium. ControlTier facilitates automation of post-build integration testing as part of the continuous integration process.
Consider the power of combining these build tools with the Elements library support for deploying to a growing set of application technologies such as ActiveMQ, Hsqldb, JavaServiceWrapper, Tomcat, Mysql, Apache HTTP, Mule, WindowsService, JBoss, and OpenLDAP. All supported on Linux/Unix (Solaris) and Windows.

On the commercial side of our business, deploying "out-of-the-box" solutions based on the Elements library has become the standard approach for customers using any of these technologies.

Within a couple of weeks we can establish a new ControlTier based build and deployment infrastructure and migrate existing applications to it giving customers the benefit of Jobcenter for self-service deployment and application management, Reportcenter for visibility into build and deployment activity and the Workbench configuration and process automation modeling tool.

Anthony Shortland

Monday, June 16, 2008

ControlTier on the road

Starting with BarCampESM back in January, we've been hitting the road showing off our tools and engaging in conversations about IT operations and application deployment. Our travels have included presenting our new CTL framework to a variety of systems management user groups as well as exhibitor gigs at SaaSCon and JavaOne.

Next up... O'Reilly's Velocity 08 (June 23 -24). Velocity is a new conference dedicated to operations and performance for web-based businesses. The speaker lineup and the early attendee list bodes well for plenty of interesting and lively conversations. ControlTier will have a booth in the exhibit hall so if you attend Velocity stop by for a demo of our latest tools or to swap war stories with our hard working engineers. Not registered for Velocity? Use the registration code "vel08js" for 20% off.

Whether it be at conferences, user groups, or other forums... we love meeting other folks in our field. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment or send us an email at