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Atomist adds drift management feature to pare technical debt

Atomist has added a feature to its software delivery automation platform to help enterprises visualize, identify and fix the problem of technology drift.

The latest update to Atomist's software delivery automation platform aims to help developers fend off technology drift.

Technology drift is a type of technical debt that organizations accrue over time as they modernize their systems. It accumulates as development teams move from one incarnation of a project to the next but don't update all components, which potentially leads to security issues, quality impairment or performance hits.

The drift management addition to Atomist's software delivery automation platform, currently in beta, provides visualizations of companies' code environments, as well as a code consistency engine to ensure all code is consistent and up to date. The feature enables developers to more easily expose, manage and eradicate drift in their code with a single tool by adding an element of telemetry to the platform.

The placement of telemetry on top of a DevOps pipeline is not entirely new, but Atomist's use of telemetry data to provide insights on technology drift is compelling, said Krishnan Subramanian, an analyst at Rishidot Research, in Seattle.

"The proliferation of software versions in the industry is a known management and governance problem," he said. "By making it easy for enterprises to visualize the proliferation and by providing automation capabilities to ensure governance, Atomist will help enterprises stay compliant and avoid expensive security issues."

Screenshot of Org Visualizer
The Org Visualizer maps many aspects of your repositories, including npm and Maven dependencies, Docker images, git branching, and CI config.

The drift management feature is now a core part of the Atomist platform and can be used with any of the Atomist features or open source projects. It is comprised of three core elements: the Org Visualizer, the Drift Report and the Policy Manager. The Org Visualizer is an open source project that analyzes an organization's code repositories for drift. With the visualizer, users can clone their projects from GitHub and analyze all the information that impacts the code.

By making it easy for enterprises to visualize the proliferation and by providing automation capabilities to ensure governance, Atomist will help enterprises stay compliant and avoid expensive security issues.
Krishnan SubramanianAnalyst, Rishidot Research

The other two components are not open source. Drift Report visually represents the status of the organization's codebase and highlights threats and vulnerabilities. And the Policy Manager enables development teams to set new policies that will automatically apply updates where needed.

Once the drift management feature identifies technology drift and assesses potential problems, developers can use the consistency engine to set policies that address the problems and track their progress made to meet those policy goals. Examples include monitoring name dependencies, Kubernetes stacks, Docker configurations, Maven dependencies and Git best practices.

Enterprises' quest to become cloud-native has led to a proliferation of repositories. Everybody wants to do microservices, cloud and containers, but they're actually solving some old problems and creating new ones such as technology drift.

Yet, "absolutely any aspect or facet of code configuration, and your delivery process, is observable," said Rod Johnson, CEO and founder of Atomist. Using the drift management feature, Atomist engineers found particularly high technology drift with the Microsoft .NET, Go language and Python-based Docker images, he noted.

Screenshot of public and private repositories on GitHub
Atomist gives you support for public and private repositories on GitHub. Once connected, an analysis of your code begins.

While there is a lot of chatter around application deployment through Kubernetes and public cloud platforms, there is very little conversation to remove friction points that hamper continuous deployment, Subramanian said.

"The transition to containers and Kubernetes has changed the DevOps workflow to become smoother than legacy workflows," he said. "Atomist is well-positioned to take advantage of this transformation in the enterprise IT world."

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