“So, what do you guys do?”
At just about every trade show or conference where you are mingling with people or scheduled for booth duty, someone is going to ask you that question. And you’d better have an answer. It could be a future customer, business partner, or crucial contact that leads to both. In those situations, the “pitch” needs to be simple and to the point. You aren’t going to pull out a slide deck, because there isn’t time. They don’t call it an “elevator pitch” for no reason. But in a blog post, we have plenty of time.
DevOps with AEM is a pain. Pure and simple. You get sold on the simplicity of authoring and managing your content with Adobe Experience Manager, but no one ever seems to mention that there is an entire infrastructure layer that someone is going to need to maintain and deal with in order for your implementation to be successful and secure. A giant beast. And what do you do about multiple environments (Dev, Test, Stage, and Prod)? A gaggle of less important beasts, but beasts nonetheless. There must be a better solution. Our answer is AEM Cloud.
Reinventing AEM Management
“Accelerate Adobe Experience Manager delivery through Auto-DevOps”
As I briefly stated in an earlier article, there are major savings to be gained from not having multiple non-production lanes running on a regular or 24/7 basis. Historically most organizations have a production environment, a Stage environment that mirrors Production, and at a minimum a Testing environment (though sometimes other lower environments exist). This can be expensive to organizations because they often keep these running 24/7, though more tactical ones turn the lower environments off regularly (you have been turning them off, right? Right?!). What if an environment could spring into life at the moment you needed it, and then shut itself down when you were done?
And more than this, we want to take this off of the plate of your Operations team. They have a difficult job and their main focus should be primarily on the Production environment, not lower lanes. With AEM Cloud, developers and other users of Adobe Experience Manager are more than capable of creating these environments ad hoc, and don’t need to wait for a sysadmin to do it for them. And honestly, it’s not that hard to learn how to use AEM Cloud. This should be in the hands of anyone associated with the AEM team (Developers, Architects, PM’s, BA’s, QA, Authors, etc).
For Developers, the process to turn on a new environment requires only one small command: “aemcloud up”.
We have made things so each developer can create their own environment by that simple command using pre-built Docker images. These Docker images contain any configuration needed of AEM version, Service Pack (SP), Cumulative Fix Pack (CFP), and hotfix. This makes it so that you can spin up environments based on Production or create new environments for future upgrades or tests on new versions, SP’s, or CFP’s before it is rolled out to Production. But how long does it take? This is going to depend on your machine. It’s completely comparable to how long it takes you to spin up environments on your local machine, because that is essentially what is happening.
While it’s good to make it easy and fast, it might be more important that all the developers on the team are using the same environment setup. That way there is no guesswork to whether or not everyone has the most up to date code and are playing on the same field. This same principle applies to all pre-production environments as well. Because everyone has had frustration when Stage is out of sync with Production. And developers don’t want have to spend untold amounts of time keeping your non-prod environments aligned with Production. A task that one AEM architect told me took about 25% of his time each week.
Imagine the development gains to be made by cutting out this time suck. Now just build any environment at will and it’s up to date.
Connecting your code repository is very simple. Just grant it access to your git repo. AEM Cloud is setup to work with the major code repository systems: Github, Gitlab, and Bitbucket.
And don’t worry, we don’t expect people to use a terminal to get their environment ready. We have a friendly user interface that gives you the controls to do this. Not to mention the ability to send others users a “magic” link when an environment is ready to use. After all, once it is up then anyone can use it. You can see the AEM Cloud UI below.
The Problem of Content
“Content is King” — Bill Gates
While content is king, and essential to everything in marketing, content has always been a problem for lower environments; everything below Production. Ensuring that you and the QA team are testing up to date and relevant content is important to ensure that a proper review of the authoring tools has taken place. There are current methods to sync the content but they are not as intuitive or simple as one would hope and we rarely see them used effectively.
Thanks to AEM Cloud, content can be deployed at the same time as your code so that the environment has meaning. Usefulness.
All that needs to be done is to ensure that regular packages of content are being taken and then uploaded to the same location as your code repository, or even stored inside AEM Cloud (yeah, we’ve made it so that content packages can be synced to AEM Cloud), so that when the commands are run to spin up an instance of AEM those content packages will be deployed as well. And if a QA person were to do some testing and find a flaw, they can build their content package and make it available to the developer so that the developer can replicate the behavior, saving your team unnecessary back and forth.
If you need help knocking down your devops frustrations then let us know. Our AEM Cloud system takes little effort to setup and configure to your needs. As a reminder: It’s easy to spin up and turn off (and you don’t need a Sysadmin to do it), you’ll have less pain and headaches since you won’t need to run regular maintenance on non-production environments, you’ll save money by not needing to keep your non-production lanes running, and you can keep content up to date in lower lanes. AEM Cloud will be a real game changer.
We will be announcing the delivery of a self service beta tier in the coming months. Drop us your email on AEM.Cloud to be able to participate as well as get updates on future enhancements. Or let’s set up a time to show you more: firstname.lastname@example.org.