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ThoughtWorks launches CruiseControl Enterprise

by Geoffrey Wiseman on May 16, 2007 |

ThoughtWorks has launched a CruiseControl Enterprise project to enhance and support CruiseControl, the grand-daddy of Continuous Integration servers. The enhancements shown include an enterprise dashboard, build summary and build detail. The release of these features is estimated for June 2007.

ThoughtWorks will also offer 24x7 support (pricing starts at USD$15,000 for a support pack of 5 incidents) and continuous integration consulting (priced based on need).

A paper by Dave Farley describes the pattern where many continuous integration environments stop at the build stage, rather than continuing on to deployment and beyond and suggests a gated approach to explorinb beyond 'continuous build'.

InfoQ took the opportunity to speak with with Paul Julius, the Product Manager for CruiseControl Enterprise, and one of the original founders of CruiseControl.

When asked to describe the relationship between the open-source CruiseControl project and CruiseControl enterprise, and how ThoughtWorks will be contributing to the community, Paul described a dedicated development and support team:

They are working on the updated reporting application as we speak. Everything we are building now will be open sourced. The development team will be joining into the existing open source community to contribute code, review patches, answer user & developer questions, etc. As the roadmap for the enterprise class CI features gets defined, they will be working on those features.

As the enterprise-specific features are created, they will become proprietary extensions to the open source version of CruiseControl. Until then, there is no plan to create a separate CruiseControl Enterprise product distribution.

These [proprietary] extensions will be largely focused on the needs of large enterprise continuous integration environments. Those features which are more broadly applicable to projects without regard for size will continue to be open sourced. The open source community itself will continue to advance CruiseControl, too. Patches continue to come in. New ideas continue to get proposed. The OSS community continues to thrive and have a life of its own.

Speaking about the plans for CruiseControl Enterprise, Paul described changes for the next release:

  • Visibility into in-progress builds (i.e. seeing the Ant output via the reporting application)
  • Cleaner data summarization.
  • Enriched user interface that takes advantage of features like Ajax.
  • Ability to add standard projects quickly and entirely via the reporting application.
  • Ability to update CruiseControl's configuration via the reporting application. This has been available before, via JMX and a rudimentary text field. It will now be part of the same framework as the other administration tasks and provide some validation to limit errors.
  • Ability to create reporting application "widgets" (e.g. panopticode integration) which summarize build output data. In the past this was accomplished via XSLT. The new widget framework provides the full flexibility of the Java programming language.
  • Backwards compatibility via RSS and XML feeds so that we don't break all the existing 3rd party tools, like CC Tray, Yahoo Widget, etc.

He also talked about the long-term roadmap:

The roadmap for the upcoming releases will focus on simplifying the creation and administration of enterprise class CI environments. The details of what that will entail are still being ironed out.

On the subject of which challenges are more common in enterprise use of continuous integration:

Large enterprises are faced with integration across potentially hundreds of projects, some active and some legacy. Keeping all these projects in synch and correctly built, tested and deployed with each other can be extremely complex. Simpler Java issues serial version UID errors can cause significant problems in a production environment. More complex problems, like exhaustive regression test suites that take 12 hours or more to run, can reduce the rapidity of feedback for developers, testers and managers.

CruiseControl Enterprise offers solutions now for these problems, but will continue to add in new features to support these types of environments. ThoughtWorks' experience with decomposing an integration environment into a pipeline from development through to production enables big enterprises to make decisions more effectively, resolve problems more quickly and reduce their overall time to market.

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Sorry to see it.... by Rick Wagner

I wish this wouldn't happen. I really like Cruise Control, but have doubts about it now that it's got a 'commercial' fork. My concerns are that the open source version won't receive the full attention of the development community, in particular the keepers of the new fork. New, useful features will probably first be evaluated for the commercial version even if they would benefit the 'community' version. I'll watch it, but this makes me want to start thinking about Hudson and other automated build tools...

which platform? by Kevin Williams

I can't seem to tell if this just covers Java, or if this includes CruiseControl.NET and CruiseControl.rb as well. I would expect the .NET enterprise space to be have deeper pockets for this kind of ... insurance, but I'm just a code slinger so I probably have that wrong.

Re: Sorry to see it.... by Geoffrey Wiseman

Personally, I felt like Cruise was already falling behind the pack, so I'm just glad to see it get some more attention, and to know that some of that attention will go into the community.

But, that said, we've see the "Enterprise CI" meme before with AntHill, QuickBuild, etc. I hope this is a more successful union of commercial and community interests.

Three thousand bucks per incident?! by Gavin King

Wow. Is that a misprint?

Re: Three thousand bucks per incident?! by Geoffrey Wiseman

It's safe to say that if you're interested in CruiseControl Enterprise support, talking with ThoughtWorks to verify terms and evaluate the cost-benefit of such an arrangement is wise. That said, the above figure is what I was quoted, so it doesn't seem to have been a transcription error on my part.

Re: Sorry to see it.... by Kurt Christensen

Right on. My favorite CI server has always been Anthill, but it seems to me that the open version gets less and less attention over time as the commercial version becomes more fully-featured.

Re: Three thousand bucks per incident?! by Paul Julius

For all users, the mailing lists will continue to be the place to go for answers to straightforward questions, or when you don’t mind waiting for an answer. The open source community members (almost 1000 people on the user mailing list) have done a great job helping each other with all types of problems. I intend to continue to promote that model. The CruiseControl Enterprise development team will be monitoring the mailing lists to help where they can.

The Enterprise support offering is targeted at clients managing large-scale, department wide CruiseControl installations. Enterprises often need extra-assurance, for their business critical applications. That’s where the commercial support offering comes in.

See studios.thoughtworks.com/cruisecontrol/cruiseco... for more detail.

Re: which platform? by Paul Julius

CruiseControl Enterprise will be extending, and contributing to, the original Java version of CruiseControl. ThoughtWorks Studios will be offering commercial support for any of the three CruiseControl family members – CruiseControl.NET, CruiseControl.rb and CruiseControl.

Re: which platform? by Tom Adams

That's interesting. I heard a podcast yesterday with a ThoughtWorker (think it was Neil Gafter) who stated that CC.rb was the new canonical CC, and the other versions had been deprecated. Is this not true?

Re: which platform? by Tom Adams

That should have been Neil Ford.

Re: which platform? by Neal Ford

Yes, it was Neal Ford (me!) that said that, but I was mistaken, based on speculation from one of the members of the CruiseControl.rb team. Obviously, CruiseControl on other platforms is alive, well, and vibrant.

Sorry for any confusion I might have caused.

Neal

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