Monday, 29 October 2012

UC4 Releases "Holy Grail" of IT Deployments



What is the worst nightmare for IT services when deploying new versions of software? A system crash. That's why operators of datacentres of all sizes are constantly creating backups that take up valuable storage space on the rack. Even worse, if datacentre technicians forget to do backups immediately before a new deployment, a crash could result in the need to use a backup that is far too old.

All of that may now be history thanks to UC4's release of Application Release Automation Version 3 (ARA 3.0). The new version of their software includes built-in rollback capabilities that eliminate the need for constant software backups. With automatic rollback ARA 3.0 reverts to the last working version of a software package should a crash occurred during deployment.

“Automatic rollback has been the holy grail of deployment automation for a long time,” said UC4 VP of ARA Technologies Wesley Pullen. "Our built-in rollback capability eliminates the need for customers to back-up their existing applications as part of a deployment.”

What's more, the software eliminates the need for techs to back-up and restore artefacts in the event of a rollback. ARA 3.0 makes the whole deployment process very stable by monitoring and looking for problems proactively. In many cases it can respond to those problems before they cause an unrecoverable failure. It works so well users are often not aware that anything has happened in the background.

Two of the best features of UC4 ARA 3.0 include:

  • Configuration Snapshots - The software takes configuration snapshots that keep track of all the changes occurring from one deployment to the next. Even when a rollback is necessary configuration settings are not lost.
  • Multiple Tenancy - Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, as well as other large-scale operations, can host multiple clients on a single, scalable server with full automation.
Software Management Just Got Tons Easier

Data centre providers offering collocation and web hosting have been looking for this sort of software for quite a long time. It's too early to say if it's a definitive game changer, but things are pointing in that direction. Having rollback capability completely changes the software management paradigm because, if it delivers as advertised, it should drastically reduce the potential for downtime whether software deployments are happening in the cloud or under traditional web hosting.

We know how important that is given some recent outages suffered by major retail organizations. Not too long ago a simple software upgrade knocked out large portions of one organization's website that were hosted on cloud servers on America's East Coast. If automatic roll-back had been deployed there would not have been so much as a glitch.

ARA 3.0 might be just what some datacentre operators need to convince clients to switch to the cloud. According to surveys done late last year fears of security issues and software crashes were the top two things preventing widespread cloud migration. With UC4 ARA 3.0, at least one of those concerns seems to have been adequately addressed.

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