The DB automation platform

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Article: The DB automation platform

08/2021 – The Developer Experience platform pools DB-compliant applications and automation. That makes software development and its operation considerably faster, more secure and more stable.

Software development has changed fundamentally in recent years. Technological advancement is accelerating before our very eyes – wherever we look. The digital transformation goes hand in hand with the use of cloud services, agile working methods and DevOps operational structures. Automation processes enhance the leveraging of efficiency potential. At the same time, the aim is to make the development and operation of software more secure: new methods require a high level of knowledge, awareness and responsibility, especially with regard to governance and security requirements. The range of automation tools available on the market is growing, but not all of them meet the DB Group's high quality requirements in every case. 

For enhanced security  

To meet these challenges, DB Systel has initiated the Developer Experience platform. This enables development, operations and DevOps teams to quickly and easily develop DB-compliant and standardized applications thanks to integrated and scalable platform services. "We take tools that already exist on the market – and refine them to meet Group requirements," says Christian Berger, who is responsible for building the DevEx platform at DB Systel. "A good set of products already exists. We already have products to offer for all kinds of areas." The Group is putting a lot of effort into promoting the platform. Representatives from all business units contribute requirements to the DevEx platform, which in turn benefits everyone else.  

"With the aid of the platform, we are able to give the developer a certain security set using preconfigured tools."

Christian Berger, PO and "Developer Experience" platform owner at DB Systel

Christian Berger

All scalable and integrated platform services are pooled in a central location, from which they are made available to the user. Furthermore, the Developer Experience platform provides the best possible support when handling governance and security issues. Developers are better able to focus on the needs of their customer while at the same time leveraging potential in the fields of security, economy, speed and innovation. "The Developer Experience platform is first and foremost a strategic platform," says Christian Berger. The latest service developments should be aligned with certain standards within the Group, and the platform gives developers the tools they need to do just that. "In this context, we're talking about providing developers with a digital hammer and chisel." If these are used, the platform automatically ensures certain security and compliance requirements. "With the aid of the platform, we are able to give the developer a certain security set using preconfigured tools." 

"We need to learn the language of non-nerds so that our products don't just appeal to digital experts."

Christian Berger, DB Systel

The DevEx platform consists of various individual products. The list of highly sophisticated Developer Experience core products inevitably contains some rather technical language.  

Overview of the DevEx products available for ordering: 
  • Artifactory: Centrally deployed binary repository for DB software artifacts 
  • Azure DevOps Services: Collection of Microsoft software development tools for building and delivering software 
  • Continuous-Delivery-as-a-Service: Deployment of declarative components with built-in compliance and security checks to make it easy to run a pipeline 
  • DBCS Kubernetes Container Platform Services: Instantly available cloud runtime environments for containers based on Kubernetes 
  • Fortify: Tool for the prompt identification of security vulnerabilities in self-written code 
  • GitLab: Centrally deployed DB source code repository and Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment
  • Monitoring-as-a-Service: For the live deployment of preconfigured monitoring stacks, compatible with DBCS Kubernetes namespaces and Amazon EKS clusters  
  • pipeship: Preconfigured standard pipelines for continuous integration and continuous deployment; can be customised for specific projects 
  • SDE: Collection of hardware and software tools used by a system developer to create software systems 
  • Test automation consulting: Consulting service concerning the evaluation and use of a test automation solution  
  • Test management tool: Tests can be planned, monitored and evaluated with the support of the test management tool 
  • WhiteSource: Tool to help check for known vulnerabilities and critical licenses  
  • Xenon: Enhanced quality thanks to the automation of UI and API tests plus consulting on testing  

A helpful set of products is already available: there is already a deployable solution for every field All products work together on an integrated basis. All relevant development phases are automated.  

DevEx aims to integrate customary tools. These are integrated into a tool chain and offered as a service.

The next step is to promote the major advantages of the platform, which are still in need of a clear explanation.  "We now need to learn the language of non-nerds and make the tools easier to use so that we don't just appeal to digital experts with the products we offer," says Christian Berger. "By the middle of next year, tools should be available for each group – we call them the digitally able, the digitally savvy and digital experts.  

One of these digital experts is Serkan Parlak from DB Training. In his role of senior software developer, he already uses some of the tools – and is full of enthusiasm. "From a developer's point of view, DevEx is the best and most ingenious development at DB. We have very little downtime and benefit from high performance and scalability."  

"With the aid of DevEX, we're able to implement cutting-edge applications, putting us at the technological forefront in our day-to-day work."

Serkan Parlak, senior software developer at DB Training

Serkan Parlak

However, DevEx is much more than just a technical toolset; the framework it provides in terms of security requirements and the implementation of corporate guidelines also suits Deutsche Bahn down to the ground. "The options DB Systel has given us with these tools allow us to concentrate on implementing functional requirements," says Serkan Parlak. "With the aid of DevEX, we're able to implement cutting-edge applications, putting us at the technological forefront in our day-to-day work."