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Using Ubuntu, Virtualization, and Automation to Improve Your Web Development Workflow

Ubuntu, Web Applications
Location: D135 Level: Novice
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 5 ratings)

Most web developers are probably familiar with the concepts and motivations behind staged deployment. But the prospect of setting up such a system can raise daunting questions, especially for smaller shops that may work on many projects for many clients. How much extra hardware will be needed? How much will the required software cost? How much development time will it take?

In this session, Brewer will show how the combination of Ubuntu, VMware Server, and AutomateIt can make a staged deployment environment easy and inexpensive to set up. Along the way he’ll provide specific examples from his experience developing web sites and interactive exhibits for museums and other cultural institutions. This is a high-level session meant to introduce concepts and tools, but will be light on code examples or live demonstration of software.

To begin, Brewer will review a handful of web development infrastructures. For each configuration, he’ll discuss the benefits and costs, using examples from some of Second Story’s past projects. These include single server development, shared development server + production server, and local development + staging/integeration server + production server.

These infrastructures follow a natural progression that eventually leads to a hypothetical setup where each developer has their own development server, integrated changes are deployed to a staging server for internal review, and approved changes are deployed to a production server for client review. This system has clear benefits for stability, but at a significant cost in extra hardware, server configuration time, and potentially software licensing. At this point Brewer will begin introducing technologies that eliminate these problems.

First, he’ll discuss how using Ubuntu and an open source development stack has enabled them to eliminate the licensing costs and installation hassles that otherwise plague this sort of multiple-server development setup.

Second, he’ll provide a brief introduction to VMware Server and its capabilities. He’ll demonstrate how using VMware or similar virtualization technologies has enabled them to significantly reduce the amount of server hardware they require, which further allows the freedom to create multiple independent virtual servers for every project.

Finally, Brewer will introduce the AutomateIt server automation package. He’ll explain the purpose of this flexible tool and provide examples of the kinds of server configuration tasks it excels at, and show how using AutomateIt in combination with virtual machine templates can dramatically reduce your server configuration costs.

Photo of David Brewer

David Brewer

Second Story Interactive Studios

David Brewer is the Lead Systems Developer at Second Story Interactive Studios. He has over nine years of experience with Web programming using a variety of platforms and languages. He specializes in the creation of collection databases, web-based administrative consoles for managing them, and the front-end systems used to present them.

OSCON 2008