Our 5.0 release has been our biggest and most ambitious to date. We’ve learned so much from our customers and we’re proud to know we’re building the best PaaS for the Enterprise, with the Enterprise. This series of blog posts includes Q&A with some of the “Apprendans” who worked hard on Apprenda 5.0. Hear what they learned, what they think is important, and how they made it through our most aggressive release schedule ever.
Fun Fact: A connoisseur of fine scotch, Kelly periodically performs office-wide tastings.
Ryan: Why is 5.0 so important? What’s most exciting about this release?
Kelly: It’s the most ambitious release I’ve been a part of, and I’ve been here since version 2.0. Obviously, a big thing is the enhanced support for Java and Oracle, but there are so many new features included in 5.0 that it’s difficult to narrow them down. I’m really impressed that we were able to get this done in the time that we did.
This is also the longest release cycle that we’ve done. Normally, we aim for 6 month release periods, but we built this out as a 9-month cycle, due to the large amount of updates and expansions being included. Not only have we enhanced our overall support for Java components, but we’ve also matched that for what we do for .NET. That fact can’t be overstated.
In addition to that, regarding deployment models with Microsoft SQL Server, we’re supporting isolated multitenancy DBs for Oracle. That could be an impressive major feature of a release in itself, but in the scope of 5.0, it’s almost just another thing.
Ryan: Can you tell me about the enhancements to our teaming / group capabilities?
Kelly: Imagine that you’re using Apprenda before this release. You log in to the system and the group that you belong to, and that’s it- you’re in your group. With 5.0, we’ve made it possible for users to belong to more than one group, which really simplifies a user’s entire workflow. You log in and you decide where you want to go. Do you want to go to your marketing group, your sales group, etc. For example, I could belong to the development group and the test group, and so on.
Ryan: So that gives access to each group’s shared components and items that are set-up at the team level?
Kelly: Right, you’re no longer limited to one group with one login. Beforehand, if I wanted to access the dev team’s information and the test team’s information, I would have to have two separate logins. That just doesn’t fly. An external user store is nothing new, but our customers are now able to use that one login to access multiple spaces at the same time, which is pretty cool.
Ryan: What’s your favorite new feature?
Kelly: Well, my personal favorite feature, just because it makes life much easier in terms of testing is something we added called, “bootstrap policies.”
Now, how is this useful for us? Well, another function we have, which has been around for a while, is called message queuing. In order to make that work, one of the things that needed to be done was for us to drop the DLLs for a third party program into the UI of the service bootstrapper. We had to physically go and drop them in so that, when these apps were deployed. we had established these DLLs within them. And we had to have scripts that did that. With the new bootstrapping policies, no more scripts! We’re actually using our own product to accomplish it.
Ryan: So you can define a bootstrapping policy that includes those DLLs?
Kelly: Yes. It’s another example of something the platform now does automatically, but which our customer would have had to perform manually. Any time we do something like that, where the product becomes easier for us to use and test, it’s really exciting. From a customer perspective, that’s a really powerful capability. A lot of what Apprenda’s platform is about is creating a guiderail to ensure that enterprises can perform their actions quickly and easily, but still remain in compliance regarding the policies and governance an organization has in place. The platform enables them to define pre-approved regulations with certain types of apps, choose specific policies, and have that all bundled together. And all the while, they know everything remains in compliance with what’s already been set up. This is excellent.
Ryan: What else would you like to talk about regarding 5.0?
Kelly: The ability to export an app (which was relatively simple and easy to build) is one of those little things that might make someone’s life a lot easier. There might be subtle configuration differences between your test version and production version of the app, so this new feature lets you export any app from the platform, at any stage. And you can export just the binaries for the app or just the manifest, which defines properties like multitenancy, commingled DBs, etc. You can export either of those separately or together. This might make things easier for people to simply take a product that is running on one instance of Apprenda, export it, and then re-upload it on another instance of the platform.
For us internally, it’s going to make things much easier for our testing infrastructure. Often times, the testing infrastructure has apps running with different parameters than the local development instances do. If there’s a test failure that needs to be investigated, I can see myself going to this test environment, exporting the app and all of its settings and importing it right to my local environment to see just what the problem might be. So there are a lot of things that make 5.0 really exciting!
Check out the other interviews in this series!