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Announcing Apprenda 5.0!

By Rakesh Malhotra1.28.14

Today we’re extremely proud to announce the 5.0 release of our flagship Apprenda enterprise application platform. By any measure, this release is the most ambitious and comprehensive to date.

Before I get into what’s new in this release, I thought I’d provide a little context into the motivating factors behind the innovations. In a word: customers. We’re privileged to have the industry’s broadest and deepest enterprise PaaS production deployments and this has given us a bird’s eye view into the future of the platform. The reality is: most customers don’t know exactly what they need or even how to compare platforms when they first get started. It’s only when they run at scale, in production and for an extended period of time that they realize what’s important. Rather than telling customers what they should or should not care about when it comes to enterprise PaaS, we’re happy to learn from them, grow with them and incorporate this into our product.

Policy as a Core Enterprise PaaS Feature

We love empowering enterprise developers and giving them the freedom to rapidly innovate and generate true competitive differentiation within their organizations. Having said that, without the right guard rails in place, enterprises don’t get the confidence to broadly deploy the platform. You’re left with a set of science projects and pilots in the corners of your organization that don’t really ‘move the needle.’ Policy is an essential catalyst to large scale enterprise PaaS deployments.

We’ve invested in policy before with our Application Deployment Policies feature and it has proven quite popular with our customers. As a result, we’re doubling down and making policy a first-class citizen of how the platform operates. The trick is to introduce policy without re-introducing the bureaucracy and friction that PaaS is designed to eliminate in the first place.

    • Application Bootstrap Policies: Now you can dynamically load libraries automatically based on IT policy or by enabling developers to opt-in directly. This could be for things such as security and application performance monitoring. This feature allows customers to support use cases such as, “All production deployments need to have blessed APM libraries loaded but dev/test does not need to unless the developer wants them.”
    • Dynamic Scaling Policies: PaaS enables you to quickly deploy and scale applications but across a portfolio of thousands of apps you need more than a cool demo. Apprenda 5.0 offers dynamic scaling policies that enable you to automatically scale an application in response to user demand or on a scheduled basis to be more proactive. What used to require an enterprise monitoring tool, a configuration management tool, a job scheduler, and a pile of scripts is now just a couple of text boxes or a single API call. Your policy can also set maximum and minimum component instance counts to ensure that your application doesn’t “run away” from you or fall below an expected SLA.

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  • Archive Filtering Policies: Sometimes developers upload application artifacts with hard-coded infrastructure configuration. You generally don’t want to do this with PaaS because you want your app to be portable across infrastructure so that things like IP addresses, connection strings, and so on are dynamically injected by Apprenda at runtime. Archive filtering policies take the application artifacts that developers push to their Apprenda cloud and run regular expression match and also replace rules in order to swap out any infrastructure specific items. This helps standardize application deployment mechanics, resulting in fewer errors for developers.
  • Enhanced Authentication / Authorization: Apprenda already lets you map your enterprise development teams to your enterprise authentication and authorization system. Apprenda 5.0 takes this one step further and automatically disambiguates developer permissions when they are on multiple enterprise dev teams with differing levels of permissions. When you log into Apprenda, you’ll see all of your apps across all of your teams and your permissions on each team will be automatically honored. It “just works.”

Policy that stays out of the developer’s way is what lets enterprise customers deploy Apprenda broadly and pervasively with confidence.

Reduce Developer Friction Anywhere and Everywhere

Developers vote with their feet. The broad developer adoption that we have seen in our enterprise accounts is the best evidence that we’re holding true to our mission of helping them build the next generation of enterprise cloud applications. Of course, there is always more work to do. We sat down with our enterprise developers for hundreds of hours, studying how they use the platform, reviewing every ticket they filed against the ops team, and evaluating their use of our API and UX. This exercise led to some major breakthroughs and the two below are probably the most noticeable:

Enhanced Developer Logging

Life is good when your application is running without issues. However, when things fail, developers can easily become frustrated by the fact that the PaaS “hides” certain details, resulting in calls to the Ops team for better diagnostics. The Ops team in turn will be tempted (or coerced!) into handing over reams of server logs and infrastructure details to developers. This defeats the purpose of PaaS and usually doesn’t help anyway. Apprenda 5.0 offers completely revamped developer logging, which includes contextual search, log streaming, transaction, and even tenant-specific log streams. Developers can help themselves to rich detail without ever having to remote into servers, get exposed to infrastructure detail, or call the Ops team. It’s also easier for operations to correlate infrastructure events with application issues to proactively respond and address problems.

Monitoring in the Apprenda 5.0 Developer Portal

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Next Generation Developer UX

Developers expect a consumer-grade user experience with a modern enterprise platform, and that’s exactly what Apprenda 5.0 delivers. Redefined from scratch to enable a more visual experience, the idea is to help developers get stuff done better and faster. The new UX comes with a revamped REST API for 100% coverage of the dev portal functionality. Our API is your API. To complement the logging enhancements, the new dev portal also comes with a redesigned monitoring experience intended to help developers understand exactly how their app is behaving at any time: in real time.

Apprenda 5.0 Developer Portal

Dashboard

There are tons of additional developer enhancements in this release, and we’ll be talking more about them in future posts. In fact, you’ll have a chance to hear directly from a number of Apprendans over the next few weeks about their experiences working on Apprenda 5.0–what they’re most excited about in this release and what they learned in the process.  Here are the first two posts in that series:

Broader Platform Support

We have also updated the platform support matrix with the latest and greatest RHEL / CentOS / Windows Server / System Center products.

Unique to Apprenda, we don’t just hand you a connection string to a database. We actively create your DB, shared data, & manage storage quotas and update your schema. Apprenda 5.0 now supports this rich DB functionality across both Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database systems. As always, you can extend Apprenda to add additional enterprise and cloud services (with the appropriate policy wrappers, of course).

All of these new features–and our existing features (including SaaS / multi-tenancy enablement)–are available uniformly across Windows / .NET and Linux / Java applications.

No other solution provides this depth of capability across these platforms, which account for more than 80% of enterprise line of business applications (and growing!).

We already have customers rolling out Apprenda 5.0 and–as always–we’ll be listening closely for your feedback!

 

Rakesh Malhotra

Prior to joining Apprenda, Rakesh was at Microsoft for more than nine years where he most recently was principal group program manager for cloud and data center management and was among the one percent of employees nominated to Microsoft’s Corporate Leadership Bench Program. Previously, he was principal lead program manager for Microsoft’s Enterprise Storage Division. During his tenure at Microsoft, Rakesh helped found the cloud and virtualization group in 2005, built and managed a team of program managers to deliver System Center Virtual Machine Manager and assisted in promoting the company’s cloud technology platforms including Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure. Rakesh received his bachelor of applied science in computer engineering from the University of Waterloo where he graduated with first class honors.

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