Technology /

JFrog Mission Control Keeps Track of Distributed Repositories

2 Nov 2015 12:33pm, by

Organizations managing large collections of software can lose track of the multiple software repositories their development teams may be spinning up to manage all their work. To help its largest enterprise users get a grip of this proliferation, JFrog has released a new tool, called Mission Control, that can apply some control and standardization across multiple deployments of JFrog’s Artifactory repository instances, both online and offline.

For those unfamiliar with Artifactory, it is an open source, universal artifact repository manager, offering continuous integration and continuous delivery, integrating with a variety of DevOps tools to automate the tracking of software artifacts throughout application development.

Mission Control serves as an additional free product that can manage, secure and even stand up multiple Artifactory instances. It is the first offering from JFrog to help users manage their Artifactory instances at scale in the enterprise technology stack environment. It has a variety of features which aim to streamline and centralize artifact management.

The software can be used to create new repositories, and execute the actions required for the new installation, such as the ability to create a local replication. Mission Control also serves as a handy management tool, showing all the ways relationships among different repositories. The software can show, for instance, that one repository is pushing its contents to another repository elsewhere in the network.

Modernizing Devops

JFrog launched Mission Control hoping to address some of the bigger pain points facing developers working at scale in production today. Mission Control offers clients the ability to manage their running Artifactory instances in real time. It complements Bintray, which allows user machines and devices to download software from Artifactory.

JFrog strived for Mission Control 1.0 to be familiar to those running other enterprise tools in their technology stack. In fact, it brings the devops folks up to speed with their peers in other departments, in terms of management-savvy user interfaces. Marketing team members may be using Salesforce, Marketo or other sophisticated real time and visually intuitive software, while financing team members often have a separate set of sophisticated bookkeeping software. The only ones who don’t have real-time dashboards available are often the development and operations people.

And this can slow the roll of the DevOps process. Manually relaying data, feedback from directors, team leaders and developers to build burn-down charts fed by human feedback can become cumbersome, partial to bias and inefficient. Automating this process to provide real-time access to actionable insights is key for IT team members and operational executives within a software development team.

Pictured - An overview of JFrog Mission Control Dashboard

An overview of JFrog Mission Control Dashboard

From the dashboard, managers can see what components are in their repositories, their topologies and where they are installed. They can monitor all servers running, and execute changes that will propagate to all servers, including actions dealing with provisioning and entitlement, and monitoring for high availability settings. This was in direct response to customer feedback stating these issues were often pain points in the operational process of enterprise level software development.

Mission Control offers statistics from logs that can be analyzed to uncover insights that may improve the next stage of an application’s development or lifecycle through subsequent updates.

Pictured - Controlling Connections in Mission Control

Controlling Connections in Mission Control

When to Call Mission Control

Software artifacts are crucial for not only collecting data, but understanding how best to streamline the application development process. Without an artifact manager, correlating artifacts and their applicable metadata can become a challenge as development moves forward without a standard to organize, collect and label artifacts with their assigned metadata for later analysis.

For smaller organizations, implementing artifact management will often be inefficient in relation to the benefit it provides. As the organization grows, however, such insights may be necessary. JFrog’s Artifactory enterprise offering is considered a significant investment, so it offers a free trial of Artifactory Pro to those teams who may be interested in implementing this technology into their current development stack.

Alternatively, there are a number of artifact management tools available which can assist smaller teams in managing their software artifacts, many of which are also open source. These include Apache Archiva, DZone and Artificer. Each offers different ways to manage their artifacts, including information on just getting started with binary artifacts if one is unfamiliar with them thus far in their development processes.

For those mid-size or enterprise companies running two or three Artifactory instances or high availability (HA) clusters, the benefit of Mission Control becomes rapidly apparent. Artifactory is a system of record for DevOps and when working with enterprise-level solutions, having HA is a requirement rather than a concern to address. Mission Control can ensure HA is in place. In the development process, the development production pipeline of code going from dev machines to site production is critical. Without high availability, if a server is down and unable to roll out new changes, this can impact companies both financially and from a customer service standpoint.

Depending on the type of Artifactory install an organization has, it might see different functionality within Mission Control, one configured to the specific use case. One can monitor any Artifactory instance or set of instances within Mission Control, even the open source versions. However, to download Mission Control, one must have an installation of Artifactory enterprise. It is free to test/tool with, though not to actively run workloads.

Pictured - Applying Roles within Mission Control

Applying Roles within Mission Control

Mission Control also addresses security. The software can be used to put rules in place to prevent developers from creating unapproved artifacts, i.e., unreleased software. Mission Control will also offer the ability to manage user permissions spread across dozens of Artifactory instances.

Prior to Mission Control, when changing group permissions, one had to go into each individual instance and change the applicable settings in all servers with the same process. With Mission Control, developers can manage users and permissions centrally, provisioning these changes to all other instances Mission Control manages.

JFrog hopes Mission Control 1.0 will help bring an automatic dashboard into the development process, which will lead to more efficient software development workflows throughout the application development pipeline.

Feature image: “Spiral Jetty” by Greg Rakozy via Unsplash.


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