Since its introduction a year ago, we’ve added tons of new features to both CloudBees Flow and the ElectricCommander platform to help customers tackle important DevOps use cases, including Application Release Automation and Continuous Delivery orchestration. CloudBees Flow 6.0 not only rolls up the features of previous Feature Releases into a Long Term Support Release, it also brings many new and highly desired improvements around user interface, agent technologies, security, and efficiency. Some of the highlights are:
One brand. One look and feel.
As part of this release we’ve re-skinned the ElectricCommander platform UI to match that of our new, more modern CloudBees Flow UX. Customers accessing the platform UI will now notice that the name “ElectricCommander” has been replaced with “CloudBees Flow.” This rename is being done to bring a singular focus on the CloudBees Flow brand moving forward. We’re excited about our new look and more streamlined packaging – and we think you will be, too. We’ve posted this FAQ to help answer any questions you may have about this change.
One brand. One look and feel.
CloudBees Flow Domain Specific Language (DSL)
CloudBees Flow now has a full Domain Specific Language (DSL) enabling the authoring and storage of process as code . With the groovy-based DSL, users can now define their procedures, workflows, processes, resources, applications, environments, and more in code, and store it right along side their application code. Users gain even more flexibility and efficiency in capturing, authoring, and managing the details of their automation processes.
CloudBees Flow DSL
Master Application Components (copy)
Now, when authoring applications and their components, it is possible to create “Master Components” to more easily re-use standardized and best practice components across large enterprises. Master components also make authoring more efficient. For example, if you typically deploy your different application war files to your app server in the same manner, regardless of which application it is part of, then you can now capture these deployment processes once, for example as a master component named “deploy_warfile”, and make it available for anyone to use. In this release you can copy the master component to a new component to get a head start on authoring, and you can also turn existing components into a master component to share with others.
Master Application Components
The agent is the worker bee of the system, so we gave it some over due love. For starters, all agents are now running native 64-bit on all supported Linux and Windows platforms. This means easier setup, maintenance, and use of 64 bit resources. We’ve also added the ability to natively run JRuby and Groovy in command blocks, and perhaps more importantly, to author plugins using these languages. This means plugins can now directly leverage modern vendor provided APIs, enabling better compatibility and faster cycle times on enhancements. Finally, but certainly not least, we are now providing a smaller agent only installer to make agent distribution more efficient.
There has been a lot of new security concerns discovered in the past little while, so we spent some time making sure that we are keeping up with the required changes to keep everything secured. We’ve updated our libraries for OpenSSL, Apache, and PHP to the latest security and bug fixed versions. We’ve also given the SSLv3 protocol the boot, system wide, and replaced it with TLS (to avoid those nasty Poodle attacks). Finally, we’ve added the ability to use our secured credential store as input to parameters on workflows and application processes.
Improvements to the User Experience
The flexibility of CloudBees Flow as an automation platform is a major differentiator within the DevOps market. Not only does CloudBees Flow assist with Application Release Automation (ARA), but it also offers automation across all of the software lifecycle. Because of this, our UI was occasionally inconsistent between different aspects of the product. Carrying on the work started in 5.4, CloudBees Flow and its underlying platform (formerly known as ElectricCommander) is now one solution with a unified user interface. We’ve improved the UI look and feel across all features, and enhanced UI flows so that management of key objects (such as resource, users, credentials, artifacts, and plugins) can be done from the new CloudBees Flow UI. Additionally, we’ve adjusted the CI dashboard to be color blind friendly.
Our users automate their software delivery because they want to deliver quality software as rapidly as possible. Those same users have told us that they want to author those automations as efficiently as possible. So we spent some effort putting some of those little things in place that make users more efficient. For example, to help accelerate your edit/test/fix cycle, you can now run an application process from the application or process modeling canvas. We’ve also enabled direct access to an application’s processes and tier maps from the application list. Additionally, we’ve added the ability to upload or download a subset of the files from an artifact (using include or exclude) in case the stored artifact is large and only a few files from it are being worked with.
Provisioning environment templates outside of Deployments
Native support for dynamic cloud environments, which was added for application deployments in 5.4, is now available for spinning up resource pools outside of application deployments. Need your build farm or performance test environment set up in Amazon or OpenStack as part of your CI cycle? Easy as pie now.
Feature Release roll ups
The 6.0 LTS release rolls up the previous 5.x Feature Releases into a release that will have maintenance releases and be supported for a minimum of 18 months. Some examples of these many features are
- Change Tracking for faster root cause analysis and with the safety net of revert
- StatsD and Graphite integrations to simplify reporting and system health monitoring
- Application snapshots to facilitate promotion and roll back to known application component versions
- Smart deploy to reduce deployment risk and time by only deploying changed objects
- Native support for dynamic cloud environments to simplify provisioning/de-provisioning of resources in public and private clouds
- and a whole lot of other smaller enhancements and bug fixes
Pipelines (Product pre-release, FREE BETA!)
The 6.0 LTS release also contains the beta preview of a major new feature we have been working on, currently called Pipelines. Pipelines easily model a reusable single pathway to production across multiple stages and environments and provide an aggregated view of all the activity and status going on for a particular delivery. Pipelines also provide control at promotion checkpoints using stage entry and exit gates with rules, making sure that only quality software gets through to production. In this release pipelines support stages with automated tasks, and gates with manual approval rules with email and in product notifications. The pipeline views provide an aggregate view of the entire path to production, a rolled up summary from the underlying tasks, and easy access drill down to underlying details, for efficient status overview and troubleshooting of your delivery processes.
Pipelines beta In this release, Pipelines (which are in beta) are available to try out as part of the current license. We reserve the right to change how this capability will be offered in future releases.
Get the latest 6.0 LTS release
Existing customers can download the packages from the CloudBees Sharefile site (check your email for upgrade instructions!). See the product documentation for the Release Notes and Installation Guide for the supported platforms and system requirements. Contact Customer Support with questions or feedback about this release. If you are not currently an CloudBees Flow customer, request a free evaluation.