Get as freaky as you want

LiveRebel 3.0 is here – and it’s up for even the weirdest environments

JAX Editorial Team
fleet

JAXenter catches up with ZeroTurnaround CEO Jevgeni Kabanov for the for the full story on the multi-app release capable update.

Estonian startup ZeroTurnaround turned LiveRebel 3.0
loose last week – and, it’s fair to say, the software has picked up
some pretty cool new toolings since its last major update. With a
rejigged database, as well as the ability to unleash veritable
fleets of apps simultaneously, it’s certainly worth taking for a
test drive. We caught up with CEO Jevgeni Kabanov for the full
story.

JAX: What are you most excited about with this
release – and what are the biggest changes since LiveRebel
2.0?

Jevgeni: Many things, honestly. This
release is the result of a year of gathering feedback from our
customers and then eight or nine months of team working on the
release. We changed several different things, though not all of
them are actually visible on the surface.

The biggest thing that we changed is the ability to
release multiple applications at the same time. Building a release
tool is actually very hard – and it’s very hard from two
aspects.

One is the fact that there are so many environments
out there, and everybody is different, so you have to be highly
logical. You have to accommodate everyone, and at the same time,
enable a very good and very predictable process.

The other really hard part is the integration.
Basically, making the whole process virtually failure proof.
Whenever anything crashes, or anything goes wrong, you have a
back-up plan, right? So, I think those are the two areas where I
believe we are strong, and have made us a lot stronger.

When it came to implementing these changes,
what were the biggest challenges for you?

The biggest challenge was building a test harness that
could accommodate all of those cases that we need to cover, which
would be wide enough to cover all of the environments, and all of
the different failures that you can encounter.

We spent a lot of that time building tests, and
building the test infrastructure to support it. Generally, we were
always very much into automated testing. I know that LiveRebel now
runs 45,000 tests. That was what a lot of the time went into. We
just wanted to make absolutely sure that the customers who
downloaded and installed this product would get an amazing
experience out of the box.

What’s different about the database this time
round?

One of the issues that customers told us about with
previous releases was that there were several inherent limitations
in the product. For example, it didn’t allow you to deploy multiple
same named applications or to deploy multiple applications with
different database schema.

There were basically limitations which were simply
architectural. And we went through to solve them so that really any
combination of requirements that customers may have would be
possible. To be able to handle any request, no matter how many
schema you’ve deployed, how many modules, or anything else. And
finally, just to be able to accommodate more complex and more weird
environments.

Can you share a best-practice use case
scenario? 

We have 17 servers running our services, and we have
42 applications, and 12 different environments. We switched to
LiveRebel 3.0, and what it gave us is, thanks to the
multi-app support, an amazing overview of what’s deployed where.
Before, you had to go per application, but now you literally have
this digital staging. All the applications are deployed there, all
the versions are deployed there, and all the servers are deployed
there also.

The first thing that our infrastructure team told us
that they’re really happy to be getting so much
information…because when you have that many deployments, they can
be really hard to track.

They are also incredibly happy about the release
process. Before they had this issue, which the users typically also
had, which was that you typically have several things depending on
each other. With LiveRebel, you can just press a button, and
multiple things come out in one transaction. So if anything somehow
fails, they won’t have the case where one application has updated
but the other isn’t – things that are dependent go out
together.

We also have Java, PhP, and Python applications. So
we’re also testing the multi-platform capabilities of JRebel, and
it seems to be working great.

One of the biggest goals generally for LiveRebel is to
make reviews a non-event, to make them trivial, so that you won’t
have to gather your team for that. You won’t have to do anything.
You just press the button – that’s it.

Because of the way that LiveRebel handles faults,
failures, and user impact – one of its key features is that is
supports the zero downtime updates which don’t affect the end
users, we’ve got our environment to the point where any update is
just the press of a button, and you don’t have to make a fuss about
it.

This is the kind of process that some of the big guys
enjoy, you know, Flickr, Amazon, using continuous deployment. They
put a lot of resources into doing that and supporting it. Whereas,
with LiveRebel we can get it with very little cost.

Bringing the luxury of the massive enterprise
down to the little enterprise too?

Yes exactly – if you look at our competitors, this is one
of our biggest differentiators. It’s not necessarily that we are
richer in features, but those features are very well tooled. They
are very simple to use right out of the box. So that’s how we view
ourselves.

Do you feel this is what makes you stand out
in the market?

If you consider our key differentiators, it’s the zero
downtime, we don’t take the application down ever. The second
biggest thing is that, whatever happens, your users are never
exposed to failures. If something fails during the release, the
users are not exposed to it. The third thing is the sheer number of
release automation tools we have that can be freely downloaded and
tested without any professional services or anybody helping
out.

You’ve said before you don’t make continuous
integration tools – but can you see your products edging more
towards this in the future, or do you think this kind of
development will remain very separate to what you do?

I honestly see us as very separate. Continuous
integration is something I see as a scripting platform for builds
and tests, and it’s great for that. What we focus on is the last
mile – you’ve done all your scripting, you’ve run all you tests,
and the last mile is actually pretty hard. There are multiple
problems there.

On the continuous integration side, there are some
efforts to extend it to deployment, and I think it’s fine to a
point, but I think if people want to protect themselves from
failure, and from downtime, they’ll still need something like
LiveRebel in addition to what they have anyway.

And building tools for that is a completely different
space, it has completely different requirements, and completely
different issues. It’s hard to say what will be in the future –
there is some overlap – but even if the continuous integration guys
move over into the space, it will be a second product baked into
the first product.

What’s on the roadmap for LiveRebel
4.0?

Actually nothing – we don’t plan our releases so far
ahead. The reason for this that we believe in listening to our
customers and understanding what they want. We have several things
that we’re juggling – but from a market level, there are some
things we can’t ignore. Things like cloud, integration management,
continuous integration, DevOps changes – like in culture,
monitoring tools, and so forth.

We’re probably going to be looking into getting ourselves
better aligned with the market more, and I don’t necessarily know
which way we will choose. Our idea documents probably contain
around a thousand ideas by now!

What are you most excited about in Java
8?

I’m quite excited about Lambdas – though less so than
I used to be, as I haven’t written code in many years. I think the
language is moving in the right direction, and I think the only
thing it’s missing now is local type imprints. I think everything
else is there.

I’m quite happy with Java 7 as well – Java 8 is better
– but I don’t think it’ll make a world of difference either way.
It’s a nice incremental  improvement. Some people see it as
revolutionary, but I don’t see it. I think it’s going to be good
old Java in the end. It’s more about the tooling than the language
– that’s what makes it amazing.

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