Chef training with Stephen Nelson-Smith – the trainline approach

At thetrainline.com we have been using Opscode Chef since 2012 for automation of parts of our server infrastructure, particularly the build (CI) machines. We recently had several days of intensive Chef training with Chef expert Stephen Nelson-Smith (@LordCope on Twitter) of Atalanta Systems, spread over a few weeks, in preparation for scaling up our use of Chef. Here are some details of how we structured the Chef training, and what we got out of it (and why).

Testing Tools for Chef

Testing Tools for Chef – following the outside-in GOOS-style/BDD approach

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Using rsync as a low-cost alternative to svnsync or WanDisco for Subversion synchronisation

We needed to replicate a Subversion artifacts repository to a remote location, but we found svnsync to be unreliable, and WanDisco’s offering was out of our budget range. We therefore developed a simple Subversion replication mechanism using post-commit hooks, message queues, and rsync; this has proven highly reliable and meets our needs well. Here is how we did it.

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Engineering Day Feb 2013 – WebPerf, Service Versioning, Deployments, Chef, and more

We in the engineering team at thetrainline.com hold an ‘open day’ every six months to share what we do with other (less ‘techy’) teams in the company. The most recent Engineering Day, in February 2013, saw members of the HR, Legal, Commercial, Marketing, Finance, and other teams (plus our Exec) attend presentations and demonstrations from members of our tech teams covering: web performance, service versioning, deployments, infrastructure automation, testing, ticket retailing, and even a workshop on ‘How to build your own website‘. Continue reading

How do eBay, IBM, Morgan Stanley, and EasyJet view the Cloud?

This is a report back from Cloud Expo Europe 2013 where keynote talks from IBM, eBay, EasyJet to Morgan Stanley gave a view of how far the cloud has been adopted. In short, the cloud has ‘landed’; it is no longer hype or on the bleeding edge but is being used in organisations both large and small. For some businesses it is still early days but many are carrying out implementations to understand the tools and processes they need in order to use the cloud, as well as the organisation changes required.

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Why we built an on-premise private cloud for software test and integration

At thetrainline.com we recently transformed our software release process by rebuilding our problematic test and integration environments on a private (on-premise) PaaS cloud platform. The outcome of the 8 month project was a fully automated and repeatable infrastructure and software build process that reduced the environment build time from 12 weeks down to 4.5 hours, achieving ROI within 8 months. In this post we’ll share the rationale behind why we chose private cloud over the readily available public cloud offerings, details of the components, what we’ve learnt, and how we were able to use the experience to improve our other environments and processes.

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