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What’s Really Going on at the Bleeding Edge of DevOps—Takeaways from AutomaCon

By Garrett Heel on .

We’re big fans of automation at Runscope, and most of the automation we practice is behind the scenes. Runscope is built on more than 70 independent microservices that run in the cloud, and being able to orchestrate and automate those services efficiently is absolutely essential to successfully scaling our products and processes. Last week, we attended AutomaCon in Portland, Oregon, a conference focused on automation for DevOps professionals. Engineers interested in the bleeding edge of DevOps came together to hear from the brains and hands behind some of the most popular automation tools like CoreOS, Chef and Puppet.

While AutomaCon is known as the “infrastructure as code” conference, every presenter put forward a different definition of the concept, making for a diverse and compelling collection of talks. What made the conference particularly noteworthy is that the talks were centered on what the presenters were doing for automation in practice—no theories, no speculation, just real tools and experiences from which the rest of the community can learn. We’ve compiled our learnings from the conference into four key themes that reveal some interesting findings about today’s DevOps ecosystem and where it’s headed.

1. No standard definition for “infrastructure as code”

AutomaCon kicked off with the emcee posing the question, “What is ‘infrastructure as code'?", and nearly every presenter over the course of two days responded in his/her own way. Many times, the definition was created through stories about practical applications. My favorite definition came from Adam Jacob, CTO and Co-founder of Chef:

Infrastructure as code “enables the reconstruction of the business from nothing but a source code repository, an application data backup, and bare mental resource.”

Even though others at the conference didn’t give this exact definition, the way they spoke about automation was in the spirit of this quote, and this definition was the most concrete one I heard all week.

2. Containers and orchestration: Perception vs. reality

Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee, presents at AutomaCon.

Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee, presents at AutomaCon.

Docker and containerization are dominating engineering and DevOps conversations of late. AutomaCon had some great talks in this arena, and of note was Kelsey Hightower, Product Manager and Chief Advocate at CoreOS, who did a deep-dive into Kubernetes, as well as Greg Poirier, Factotum at Large at Opsee. However, despite the mindshare, Kelsey looked at containerization as just another tool in the DevOps chest, albeit one that is still in its early stages of adoption.

Prior to AutomaCon, I was convinced that containerization and Docker in particular would saturate the discussions. Yet when Kelsey and other speakers did a poll at the beginning of their talks asking how many attendees had tried out Docker, less than half of the crowd raised their hands. Even more telling, when asked how many use Docker in production, nearly all the hands fell. Clearly, even for this crowd of bleeding edge developers and DevOps engineers, containerization is still in its early days.

3. Security isn’t there (yet)

Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discusses security at AutomaCon.

Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discusses security at AutomaCon.

While the focus of the conference was on automation, presenters made it clear that security cannot be ignored or sacrificed in exchange for benefits of automation. In his presentation, Joseph Damato, Founder of Package Cloud, discussed the fundamental components required for securing automated infrastructure. He also reminded the audience that tools ubiquitous in DevOps are built upon many layers and that we must understand every one of these layers to have confidence in the security of our systems.

4. Death to cut & paste

Many solutions for managing infrastructure as code are in the early adoption phase, so documentation and best practices guides have not yet been sufficiently provided. The steep learning curve to these solutions have led to an unprecedented amount of cut-and-paste configurations, and several speakers discussed the danger of this practice. Relying on a cut-and-paste solution is a quick fix, but precludes you from learning the details and nuances of a framework or tool before considering the solution ready for production.

Luke Kanies, CEO and Founder of Puppet Labs, likened the current state of software automation to that of the evolution of automobile manufacturing. Kanies said that there were dozens of companies in the early 20th century along with Ford Motor Company that implemented manufacturing optimizations. Yet it was Henry Ford’s relentless focus on volume that helped evolve manufacturing, ultimately to Ford’s success. While the automobile manufacturing process was much faster, Ford didn’t sacrifice quality. This parallels to today’s automation tools in that we must not sacrifice quality purely for the sake of automation and scale.

 

Automation is not new, and in DevOps, there are tons of new ideas and tools coming out. Yet as we learned at AutomaCon, we must not leave behind the care and attention to detail as we move forward into more and more automated processes. We’re excited to take these learnings on the road at our next conference appearance. We’ll be at AWS re:Invent October 6-9 in Las Vegas, and we’d love to chat with you about automation and anything API-related. Sign up for Runscope free and catch us at re:Invent to discuss how to automate your API monitoring and testing processes.

Categories: api ecosystem, events, microservices


Harness the Power of PUT & POST: Fully Automate Your Workflow with the Updated Runscope API

By Stephen Huenneke on .

At Runscope, we don’t just love helping developers solve API problems—we’re passionate about APIs across the board. We built Runscope so that you can test any API, from REST to SOAP to everything in between, successfully. Internally, we rely on more than 60 APIs and microservices to power our infrastructure. It’s with that passion that we’ve been working on some major additions to the Runscope API in response to the valuable feedback that you’ve provided about how you want to use Runscope in your organizations.

Today we’re excited to announce the official release of the newly improved and updated Runscope API. This update allows you to fully integrate Runscope into your workflow, and manage tests, environments and schedules programmatically.

The Runscope API is available to all Runscope customers, and you can access your API keys in your Runscope profile under Applications. The updated API gives you the power of Runscope at your fingertips, providing you with complete control over API test automation and management. 

Building a Better Runscope with Your Feedback

We’ve had the Runscope API available to customers since we launched Runscope in 2013, and Runscope has come a long way since then. The original Runscope API was read-only and built as a way to upload custom recorded traffic, and gather test result data and information about your teams, which served the Runscope product well at the time.

However, today’s Runscope looks much different than it did two years ago: You can now reuse API tests across multiple environments, test APIs from locations around the world, import tests from Swagger definitions, run browser tests in parallel, integrate with Slack and Datadog, plus so much more. We wanted our API to be just as robust, if not more so, than Runscope itself.  

Our focus has always been on the feedback you’ve given us that relates to your most pressing needs. For the most part, these requests have included tooling around novel and advanced configurations, as well as broader monitoring and testing capabilities across locations and environments. With these cornerstone features in place, we've been able to round out the Runscope API’s functionality after months of work and testing behind the scenes to provide you with a fuller, richer API that powerfully extends your ability to use Runscope across any use case in parity with the web interface.

What’s New: Test Automation and Management at Your Fingertips

The Runscope API has been updated to include nearly every capability you have in the Runscope UI, plus several major new features to help you work quickly across teams with less hassle. The API is RESTful and communicates with JSON-formatted data. By leveraging the updated Runscope API, you can mold Runscope to your unique needs without having to traverse the UI, along with the following key additional features:

  • Automate: Streamline operations and save hours of work by programmatically creating and auto-generating complex tests across multiple APIs and services.  

  • Write in bulk: Solve large-scale test management pains with the ability to create and delete multiple tests at the same time. You can also leverage the search and replace function to find and remove pieces of a test fast.

  • Import: Save hours of work you’ve already done building API definitions with schemas like Swagger and instantly turn them into Runscope tests.

  • Modify: In one easy step, modify entire tests, environments and schedules faster than ever.

  • Streamline: Build advanced tests with ease by adding condition steps, pauses and integrations with browser tests in Ghost Inspector.

  • Integrate with CI and CD: Connect Runscope tests and schedules seamlessly into your continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) processes. Implement chained requests and trigger URLs so that your CI process not only kicks off a test, but also updates the test before it begins.

  • Store: Protect your work by backing up your data and storing it through the API.

Check out the Runscope API docs to learn how you can implement all of the above functionality in your organization. If you are already familiar with Runscope, then the docs will be a breeze to look through.

Sample Apps and More to Get You Started

In our API sample app repo, there are two Python apps we’ve built off the Runscope API that you can use immediately that showcase the simplicity of writing and backing up tests. We've also created an API Explorer in which you can tinker and make live API calls instantly. We’ll continue to add more apps for you, and we encourage you to build your own and tell us about it!

1. Create Tests

We’ve made building new API tests a snap via the updated Runscope API. With this app, you can learn how to create tests programmatically without having to go into the Runscope Dashboard UI. This app has a couple of sample tests in JSON that you can import directly into your Runscope account to run immediately.

2. Backup Tests

You’ve spent the time and effort creating robust tests for the variety of use cases and APIs in your stack—wouldn’t it be great if you could download and back them up? With the new Tests resource, you can fetch test configurations and store them outside of Runscope itself. This functionality gives you more flexibility for managing your tests.

This app traverses all of your buckets, fetches every test and saves them in time-stamped buckets. Take a snapshot of a representation of your tests for backup and versioning, and use the Runscope API to POST a copy to a new test, or PUT an update over an existing test.

3. Runscope API Explorer

If you’re the hands-on type of developer who likes to tinker and read the docs later, try out the Runscope API Explorer. Traverse through the resources and methods, and when you’re ready, just go through the OAuth flow and start making live API calls.

NOTE: There are several API methods that can overwrite and delete your existing test configurations. We highly recommend that you use a sandbox account or create a sandbox bucket while you’re learning to use the API and building/testing apps. In fact, maybe it’s a good time to use the sample app above and backup all of your test and environment configuration data!

Take It for a Spin

We are committed to producing more sample apps that showcase the power of the Runscope API, and we want to see what you build with it too! The Runscope API is available to anyone who uses Runscope, and you can sign up for free in just a few seconds. Did you build a cool tool that you’d like to share with the Runscope community? Tell us about it in the comments below so we can showcase it on the blog, or add to our GitHub repo of examples.

Categories: apis, announcements, integrations, product


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