DevOps with Flexagon


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Through my day job at Capgemini UK I have regular dealings with Flexagon as we use their FlexDeploy product with a number of customers (as we do recommend the product). Recently I was invited to contribute to a paper being developed by the Flexagon team. The fruits of the collaboration are now available at The Flexagon team have done a nice job with it, and we’d recommend taking a look if you’re wanting to know more about DevOps and CI/CD.

The paper is completely free of sales pitch – completely devoid of product references which makes for a good read.

Automating OCI Tasks with OCI Python SDK #JoelKallmanDay


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This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the Oracle Cloud SDK (check here), but it seems rather fitting, as some of the utilities I’ve been working on are open to the community, and #JoelKallmanDay is all about community. If you’d like to know more about #JoelKallmanDay then checkout Tim Hall’s blog here.

Oracle have provided a very rich API and then overlaid it with a number of SDKs in Python, Java etc. The SDKs immediately remove the work of creating connections and correct payloads. Taking the Python SDK for example, all I need to do is create a standard configuration file with all the necessary connection properties to my OCI instance. Then it’s simply a case of creating the correct Python object for the correct group of services wanted. Then it’s down to populating the object attributes. This is the illustration of exactly what a good SDK does. I can lean on my IDE to use the correct set and get operators. The code for establishing a connection is done for me.

What I’ve found most striking is the level of consistency in the methods provided by the SDK regardless of the service. This makes it very easy to develop functionality without needing to check every API before I can write any code. it would be easy to say, so what. But when you look at the breadth of the OCI services it becomes more impressive.

The convenience doesn’t end there. Rather than having to run your utilities from a local command line (Python means we’re pretty much OS agnostic), the Oracle Cloud shell is preconfigured with Python, OCI SDK, GitHub and FTP server and basic Linux text editors. The all amounts to the fact that you can use your scripts/tools from within the web UI of OCI. Edit your credentials file locally, push and pull any changes to the scripts from the shell and any Git repo such as GitHub.

With this insight, we just need to build that catalogue of accelerator tools to make those repetitive processes just a little easier. For example ensuring that when you tear down your manually created services all interlinked entities are deleted first (which can be troublesome with policies, groups, compartments and so on).

LogSimulator new features


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The log simulator we’ve built and written about in the past has had a release made that lines up with the Logging In Action book (v0.1). I am now continuing to add improvements on the main line. Not best Git branching practice, but as I’m working on this solo it doesn’t represent a problem.

If you expect multi line events all you need to do, is add to the properties file a name value pair, with the name FIRSTOFMULTILINEREGEX and the value is a Java/Groovy regular expression which can be used to determine if a line in a log entry is the 1st line in a new log. Then all subsequent log lines are appended to the previous line until a line identifies as a new log entry. The log entry will be written with newline characters in the same place as the read.

In addition to this if the synthetic log events need to be set to be new line then using the ALLOWNL property to be set to true will result in any new line escape sequences (\n) to be made into proper new lines in the output.

The details are all included in the documentation in GitHub.

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Integration Cloud or SOA Suite?


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A periodic conversation I get involved is the the relationship between Oracle’s SOA Suite and Integration Cloud. We’ve long held a view based on our conversations with Oracle product management.

There is a formal statement of direction for SOA Suite available ….

The bottom line as we read it:

  • SOA Suite isn’t going to be scrapped and customers will not be forced onto Integration Cloud.
  • Future changes are going to be on making transitions easier to the cloud, and a customer decision to adopt OIC.
  • Releases will focus on keeping things up to date and aligned with the underlying technologies from Java 8 to Java 11 as a long term release of Java. WebLogic version updates.
  • We’ll see mechanisms to cloud deliver integrations as the primary focus.
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Logging In Action – almost there


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We’ve got the peer review comments back on the completed 1st draft back of the book. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thanks those who have been involved as peer reviewers, particularly those involved in the previous review cycles. I hope the reviewers found it satisfying to see between iterations that their suggestions and feedback have been taken on board and where we can.

The feed back is really exciting to read. Some tweaks and refinements to do to address the suggestions made.

The work on the Kubernetes and Docker elements and the chapter which has become available on MEAP has helped round that aspect off. But importantly, the final chapters help address the wider challenges of logging, and some of the feedback positively reflects this.

To paraphrase the comments, we’ve addressed the issues of logging which don’t get the attention that they deserve. Which for me is a success.

Oracle Cloud + GitHub Actions


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While there is a deserved amount of publicity around the introduction of ARM compute onto OCI with the ARM Ampere CPU offering, and the amazing level of always free compute being provided (24GB of memory and 4 cores which can be used in any combination of servers). There have been some interesting announcements that perhaps haven’t drawn as much attention that they deserve. This includes OCI support for GitHub Actions, plus several new DevOps services and an Artifact Registry. We’ll comeback to the new services in another post. Today, let’s look at GitHub Actions.

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Crazy streaming music service idea?

I don’t often write about music, but this demented idea came to mind largely because Mrs Monster is more of a visual person whereas I prefer to have music on. The obvious intersection is music videos, so why can’t Spotify keep the metadata for videos on you tube. If you play a song on Spotify with a video, then YouTube is told to stream it to you if you have a session active.

The hardest bit for this would be linking the media together with the metadata but I’m sure artists and fans a like would crowd source that metadata quickly enough. Should You Tube actually pay artists for streams then it helps bolster the musician’s streaming income.

It would be interesting to see what it did to the music video interest if such as an idea took off as there would be incentive to get videos for every track. Perhaps with a little luck it would encourage artists to support grass roots film makers.

Some might say why not just stream video playlists, well how many people’s TV speakers get anywhere near the fidelity of a good hifi? Audio streams within many You Tube videos are often inferior because the key element is the visual not the audio.

The other thing is music on You Tube is entire album or just the tracks with videos recorded. But artists often have incredible b-sides or remixes – they currently don’t get loaded onto You Tube.

Brain dump over.

The Air Gap a Security Fallacy?


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Securing systems through an air gap is an idea goes back decades, and through the 50s to as recently as the 2000s the idea that you could safely and successfully run and maintain systems by simply not connecting to a network protects them from vulnerabilities may have been true. But in the last ten or more years, I would argue it is a fallacy, that can lull people into a false sense of security and therefore more likely to take more risks (or at least not be as careful as we should be). This idea is a well established piece of psychology with modern cars (here for example). This is known as Risk Compensation (also more here) or an aspect of behaviour adaptation.

Whilst this is rather theoretical, perhaps we should illustrate in practical terms why it is both a fallacy, and in the modern day simply impractical.

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