Thinking Inside the Box

Over the past few weeks I’ve been spending quite a bit of my time familiarizing myself with the new Developer Edition of Elasticbox and while it’s still in Beta I thought I might give a few highlights for those of you who weren’t able to see the preview at AWS re:Invent.

The biggest news is the release itself! Elasticbox Developer Edition is a new product that we’re releasing in addition to our Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition will continue to provide a rich set of enterprise class features such as public and private cloud support, LDAP/AD integration, users/roles/groups, and usage policies. Meanwhile the Developer Edition features a single user SAS experience that has the same powerful set of capabilities when it comes to deploying and managing applications to the public cloud.What really has me excited though are some of the new features we’re introducing in both versions.

The core building blocks in ElasticBox are “boxes” and we’ve made some exciting new changes to how they work. First a definition.  A box is a set of files and/or scripts along with metadata that can be applied to compute resource. For instance I could define a “Java” box that contains the necessary files/scripts to install java onto a generic linux image. It might use Puppet or Chef to accomplish this, or it might be a simple bash script. Regardless of how I implement it, it would represent a unit of configuration, a building block if you will, that I can combine and re-use with other boxes to build an application stack. From that point on anytime I wanted to define and deploy an application that required java I would only have to reference this box. For instance I might build a Websphere or Tomcat box that requires java and rather than duplicating my previous efforts  I can simply use the java box I built to fulfill this requirement.  This concept of “stacking” box allows Elasticbox to provide a truly modular way to define applications.

Another feature we’ve introduced is box versioning. If a new or updated version of java is released (and we all know it will be) we can simply create a new version of our java box and selectively update our application stacks to use it where appropriate. I can even update my application instances on the fly and save those changes as a new box version, and all of this is done in a way that keeps our application stack decoupled from the cloud provider. The application stack I’ve created will deploy equally as well regardless of what provider I choose, whether it’s AWS, Google Compute, OpenStack, Rackspace, HP Cloud, Openstack, or VMWare.

I hope in the weeks ahead as we open up beta registration for our new Developer Edition you take some time to sign up and see how thinking inside the box can help you deploy and manage your applications. Update: Developer Edition is now live!

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