CASE STUDY

VT Development Accelerator

Rapid Innovation: the VT Development Accelerator

A highly regarded, international university has made a commitment to promoting innovation and research – a commitment that helps attract over $650 million in sponsored projects each year. As part of this commitment, the university dedicates resources to creating solutions that promote teamwork and encourage innovation while implementing consistent standards across the organization. The university requested that its technology team accelerate the time to market of new development efforts; they partnered with Vertical Trail to create a comprehensive and modern Development and Operations (DevOps) solution.

Central to the new DevOps solution was the creation of an automated development process incorporating all teams (e.g., teams responsible for development, operations, security, and auditing) in all stages of application development.  “Vertical Trail leveraged its Development Accelerator to create a new development ecosystem that provides consistency while dramatically compressing delivery times and support requirements,” says Eric Mader, a Vertical Trail DevOps solutions expert.  Mader explains, “The team wanted to improve application development efforts across the university by employing modern tools, concepts, and processes to strengthen collaboration between application developers and IT operations staff.  The Development Accelerator was a perfect fit for this initiative.”

What is the DevOps Accelerator?

Vertical Trail’s Development Accelerator is a framework for designing DevOps solutions tailored to support an organization’s unique business and technical requirements.  Effective in a wide range of industries and business sizes, the Development Accelerator incorporates:

 

Architecture recommendations

Technology implementation

Integration of the new environment with the existing environment

New user training to ensure efficient use and support of the new environment

The Benefits

Value

“If this organization had continued to operate in their previous development mode, it would have curtailed their ability to innovate, and to provide new solutions to their researchers, faculty and students,” says Vertical Trail Managing Partner Rob Koury.

Instead, the university has a new environment that increases versatility, speeds up the innovation process and decreases the cost of deploying new solutions.  Through use of the Development Accelerator, the university continues to see benefits including:

  • Coded and documented infrastructure for rapid onboarding of new developers and visibility into the platform architecture
  • Defined and compliant environment security, with documentation that is readily available for external auditors
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) automation pipeline for one-click deployment and quicker, more frequent releases with minimal impact to end users
  • Code and services rollback for easy addition of features and services and the ability to fix bugs or unexpected issues – all with minimal downtime for end users
  • Simplified operations and support, wherein maintenance and support tasks are streamlined and overall response times improved

The Technology

Modern

The Development Accelerator is highly flexible and can be tailored to specific development initiatives; the selected technologies are chosen to work effectively with a wide variety of development languages and frameworks.  In this case, the university’s Accelerator solution was created in AWS and designed to use standard tools, including:

  • GitHub for version control
  • CloudBees Jenkins for test and build integration
  • HashiCorp Terraform and Serverless for configuration management and infrastructure-as-code
  • CloudCheckr for cloud utilization and billing management
  • Atlassian JIRA for collaboration and ticketing

The DevOps pipeline was designed to rapidly deploy and destroy entire cloud-based architectures using infrastructure-as-code artifacts for serverless services such as AWS S3 and DynamoDB – in addition to cloud compute instances. This process shortens the deployment time from days to minutes and eliminates the possibility of human error.

The university also created new operational roles to maintain and further develop the new environment.  As part of the Development Accelerator, Vertical Trail worked with this new DevOps team to provide detailed tutorials and documentation, as well as hands-on training for new DevOps users.

To ensure consistent and ongoing training for new resources, the operating procedures defined and instituted during the DevOps Accelerator process are housed in an online document repository that is regularly updated.

Acceleration

Speed

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