EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver information-technology-as-a- service (ITaaS). Fundamental to this transformation is cloud computing. Through innovative products and services, EMC accelerates the journey to cloud computing, helping IT departments to store, manage, protect and analyze their most valuable asset — information — in a more agile, trusted and cost-efficient way.
Quickly Developing Licensing Applications to Improve the Product Licensing Process
Today, EMC has a huge and varied technology portfolio with approximately 80 different product lines with multiple products in each. Additionally, products are sold to different market segments and different market types. This creates a significant challenge as multiple licensing algorithms and schemes are required to support EMC’s broad portfolio of products.
According to Brian Walsh, Architect for Licensing Applications, EMC IT, the company is always adjusting the way it delivers products to meet market changes, and it needs to be able to support quickly changing licensing schemes, how products consume licenses, as well as the whole lifecycle of license management.
“We have to be able to react very quickly and support a global customer base,” says Walsh. “We need a platform that allows us to rapidly build licensing applications to support the complete lifecycle of licensing agreements that EMC has with customers.”
Incorporating Pivotal Cloud Foundry as the Cloud-Native Platform to Enable New Application Development Practices
In 2014, EMC decided to invest in what is known internally as the Transformational eLicensing Solution initiative (TeS). EMC was challenged with determining the best way to design a solution that would support the rapidly changing licensing demands of the product portfolio. The team initially considered a microservices approach that would require building up, maintaining and orchestrating several virtual machines and other related components. But after exploring Pivotal Cloud Foundry, they quickly recognized that it would be a good platform choice from a development perspective because it abstracted the underlying virtual infrastructure and provided the full lifecycle management, elasticity and scalability the service required. Pivotal Cloud Foundry, coupled with a microservices architecture, provides a symbiotic relationship that not only meets EMC’s immediate needs but is also foundational for supporting future business needs such as building a product licensing portal and supporting a broad diversity of client and consumer interfaces.
“With Pivotal Cloud Foundry as a Cloud-Native Platform, being able to deliver systems quickly offers huge benefits for us,” says Walsh. “And enabling us to use a microservices- based approach gives us even more benefits.”
The microservices approach offers many advantages over a typical monolithic approach as it allows a developer to really focus on creating small self-contained components with specific functionality and then test, deploy, and scale each independently. This is very different from creating a small piece of a much larger application and then having to go through many layers to fix bugs or add logic.
The team began using Pivotal Cloud Foundry in spring 2014, and started building its first microservices in August of that year. The first components were delivered to production in March 2015, and approximately 35 microservices will be available by August 2015. One service under development is a new responsive web-based customer portal that the team plans to launch in summer 2015. The portal will use a Representational State Transfer (RESTful) architectural design delivered using microservices. The objective is to build endpoints that will enable more EMC products to consume licensing information and interact with the licensing system from the product.
Create an Infrastructure to Enable Faster Time to Market
Before adopting Pivotal Cloud Foundry, if a developer wanted a server for application development, it could take one to three months just to get an application development platform. Now, it can take just hours to get a server. EMC can use Pivotal Cloud Foundry and a microservices-based approach to speed up the delivery process considerably. In particular, using a Cloud-Native Platform approach with microservices, EMC can easily scale services to meet the changing needs of the business. Business customers appreciate that the architecture team can adapt quickly and spin up new services based on new business logic.
The microservice-based architecture on Pivotal Cloud Foundry enables EMC to transition from a traditional release schedule – monthly and quarterly – to a DevOps mode of operating with continuous delivery and integration.
“Being able to rapidly create microservices, with only the business logic we need, and then deploy it quickly, greatly improves our ability to meet changes and support our products as quickly as possible,” observes Walsh.
Easily Take Advantage of Microservices Development Techniques to Improve Application Quality
Using a microservices approach means that a developer can focus on a single component, understand the component’s logic, and easily and precisely add logic, fix bugs, and test the component. This granularity would be much more difficult to accomplish without Pivotal Cloud Foundry infrastructure that makes it easy to ramp up or ramp down (which is not the case if individual components were being developed on a virtual machine).
Enhance development and deployment by adopting agile software development practices
Before implementing Pivotal Cloud Foundry, the architecture team used an iterative/ waterfall approach for software development. While they still use some iterative methods, particularly during testing, implementing Pivotal Cloud Foundry has automated some build and deployment processes, enabling the team to take significant steps toward embracing true agile software development methods.
“We’re not completely there yet, but we’re definitely moving toward an agile approach,” says Walsh.
EMC IT is pleased with the results they are achieving with Pivotal Cloud Foundry, facilitating the creation of a Cloud-Native architecture. Today, EMC has data coming through Cloud Foundry, and they have a solid layer of business application logic as well. Soon, they hope to create native mobile applications.
“The roadmap is to use Cloud Foundry as the architecture of the future using microservices,” says Walsh. “We have lots of things we have to do and other enabling technologies to put into place to reach our goal, but the Cloud Foundry approach is driving it all.”