A Typical Marketplace Wasteland Without Trust or Confidence?
Any public marketplace runs the risk of becoming an unpredictable wasteland to consumers. For example, consider eBay, Alibaba, or any other marketplace specifically designed to support Cloud Service providers. Given enough time and no supervision, all can revert to their natural state of chaos. In the cloud space this often resembles:
- Hundreds or thousands of offerings with no clear differentiation.
- Low trust factor. Customers may see old versions or, more likely, products that just don't work.
With so much volume, abandonware quickly becomes the norm.
Building Confidence, One Success at a Time
In the CenturyLink Cloud Marketplace we've taken a different approach. Our hosting customers have always trusted the products and vendors we make available throughout our data center and cloud products, and a marketplace with third party offerings should be no different.
To that end our goal is, and will continue to be: all integrations must pass a three-way test.
- Clear ownership which provides support, training, and the ongoing maintenance that guarantees access to the latest releases, which have to work as advertised.
- Differentiation by carefully selecting parter technologies in a way that reduces duplication (i.e. one OpenVPN offering, distributed by the product creator, rather than hundreds of derivations) and covers the breadth of services CenturyLink customers demand.
- Trust and repeatability through automated verification that tests functionality and hands-on deployment notes from engineers throughout our organization.
Nitty Gritty Details
CenturyLink's Marketplace Quality Team set out to develop a tool set to support this three-way test at scale. The end product was named BP Keeper to remind us of our ultimate goal - to build and keep customer trust throughout the Blueprint-based marketplace.
This impressive tool set was started by building on top of existing tools like bpformation, which provides programmatic access to packages and blueprints. We combined this with the mature Python SDK for direct access into the CenturyLink Cloud IaaS.
The testing process unfolds like this (with an emphasis on visual ops to keep the Quality team aware of the entire testing landscape):
Automatically identify new public Blueprints. To keep abreast of changes the team's Slack channel is messaged in real time.
Discovered Blueprints are run through an analysis funnel, which identifies what execution parameters are needed for a successful deployment. Many of these are automatically configured based on standard naming conventions while others are bubbled up to the Quality Team for rapid review prior to initial execution.
If for any reason testing is paused, the Quality team is immediately notified.
When a failure occurs the team is tagged on a message with specific error details and deep links to the individual deploy log, as well as the ongoing history and trend for the package in question. Anything above a 4% error threshold is escalated for remediation and removed from public view until testing again indicates success.
This process - continuous testing of all Blueprint assets within the CenturyLink Cloud Marketplace - is no doubt resource-intensive, as shown by one of our execution summary messages below. That said, we've made a conscience choice as an organization to define and honor the three-way test. By that active effort our Marketplace will remain a trusted source for technologies that work with CenturyLink Cloud.
@KeithResar believes success comes from Partners + Integration + Developer Engagement. He achieves this through developing partnerships and technology integrations between Software and Services organizations, and the CenturyLink Cloud platform.