Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Charles Araujo, Pat Romanski, Flint Brenton

Article

The Top 5 Things You Need to Know When Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution

DevOps Release Management Solution

DevOps is a modern software delivery movement that encompasses agile principles and encourages automation in application delivery. Why adopt it? It allows teams to reduce errors due to manual steps and break down silos between teams to improve communication and collaboration between all stakeholders within the business.

Whether you’re knee deep in a DevOps transformation or just getting started, implementing a DevOps release management solution is an important step along the journey. Why? Because in today’s on-demand economy, organizations must capitalize on any opportunity to improve application delivery throughout the organization, irrespective of the development processes in place.

Based on a recent discussion between Michael Azoff, Principal Analyst at Ovum, andAnders Wallgren, CTO of Electric Cloud, I was able to glean why DevOps release management is a must in order for enterprises to modernize the software delivery process and compete at a higher level. More specifically, Michael and Anders discussed the top five requirements for selecting a release management solution, which I’ve laid out for you below.

ovum-webinar-devops-releases

1Application Manifest: Model and version applications, infrastructure and middleware.

Application model
This is what you’re looking for in an enterprise grade solution — a solution with ease of use in defining an application deployment blueprint, and being able to reuse it and version it and have variations to meet the complex and ever-changing needs of your organization. If you are doing Continuous Delivery and DevOps correctly, you should never have to make a change to a deployed application by hand – ideally, changes are made to the application model and then re-released into a production environment. This allows you to make and test changes in one place, and easily keep track of everything in production. Having an application manifest is a key facet for a great release management solution.

2Pipeline Design: Model, version and refactor pipelines, workflows and processes

Slide10
This is not only an important consideration for selecting a release management solution, but is at the very heart of continuous delivery — the ability to define and manage delivery pipelines for complex legacy applications or newer Microservices. For large organizations with lots of technical and process debt, being able to flexibly model and manage that sort of complexity is essential.

Ultimately, the whole concept behind DevOps comes down to the idea that there is the “what,” the “how” and the “where.” The “what” is the application manifest, mentioned above. The “how” is the pipeline design. What are all the stages this particular application or component or service goes through? Understanding your end to end pipeline is very important. You need to have, not just conceptually, but even physically written down somewhere, the end to end of what your software goes through. If you don’t have that that process completely nailed down, you don’t really have a full understanding of what it takes to ship your software. Without this complete understanding, it can be much more difficult to have success. By modeling these pipelines, you allow teams to visualize the flow of value through the lifecycle, and make iterative improvements on it in a collaborative and safe manner.

3Pipeline Execution: Predictably and efficiently deliver legacy and CD-style pipelines and releases at scale

pipeline view

One of the most important things when practicing DevOps is enabling fast feedback, so getting visibility into pipeline execution as they’re occurring is very important. This provides teams an easy way to troubleshoot problems quickly, and then refactor and optimize the pipeline over time. Enterprise pipelines can be very complex and touch a lot of tools—your Dev team might be using Jenkins and Chef and Selenium, and your Ops team might be using ServiceNow and Azure cloud and Puppet. We have customers that have over 60 tools as part of their ultimate DevOps toolchain.  For each one of these tools or services you need to make sure you’re getting the best performance possible, and operating them as efficiently as you possibly can. As you execute them, being able to see those executions live as they happen, then collect information about them, and optimize your pipeline helps to make the entire process more efficient.

4Governance, Security: Role based access control, traceability and auditability

Slide11

This is one of the key functions to consider for an enterprise grade solution. If you just tie together your release capability with tools that still require some manual steps, you’re not able to scale that. This is where a large-scale organization, especially one that is regulated and has auditors, is going to want a solution that can clearly demonstrate that the whole process is governed such that no one can make a change to the process, environments or binaries without it being logged, and that any change that is made has gone through a QA and testing process. Those are the sorts of things that are really crucial for the ops people, as they are handed responsibility for ensuring a low-risk environment.

When DevOps was first getting started, the overwhelming belief around security and governance was, “Gee, this is going to really bother the auditors.” However, it turns out it is quite the opposite — to get good at DevOps and continuous delivery, you really need to automate everything. What does an auditor want? They want two things:

  1. Document your process and
  2. Demonstrate you are using that documented process.

In the process of sitting down and automating your software delivery pipeline, you are essentially documenting that process. Executing that pipeline gives you the record of what you did: How did we deploy? When? Who did it? What was the pipeline that was used? What was the testing? All of those things are now available to be audited.

5Integrations: Works with the Tools You Already Use

Slide13

You want a solution that fits in with the tools and process that you have. It would be a non-starter to show up and say, “throw away all of your current tools and let’s use this new thing.”  It would also be inefficient to have to change your process to fit into some tool’s preconceived notion of how your enterprise should run. Make sure you don’t have to change the way you do business, and that can help the DevOps adoption curve quite a bit.

By keeping these top five considerations in mind when selecting a release management solution, you can help ensure your journey into DevOps and continuous delivery is a much smoother, more efficient, and more fruitful one. Regardless of the tools your organization decides to use, consider first and foremost how you can make your pathway to production a competitive advantage and reap the benefits of an efficient delivery pipeline!

If you want to listen to the full conversation between Michael and Anders, watch the video on DevOps.com

More Stories By Anders Wallgren

Anders Wallgren is Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud. Anders brings with him over 25 years of in-depth experience designing and building commercial software. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Anders held executive positions at Aceva, Archistra, and Impresse. Anders also held management positions at Macromedia (MACR), Common Ground Software and Verity (VRTY), where he played critical technical leadership roles in delivering award winning technologies such as Macromedia’s Director 7 and various Shockwave products.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Learn how to solve the problem of keeping files in sync between multiple Docker containers. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Aaron Brongersma, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at Modulus, discussed using rsync, GlusterFS, EBS and Bit Torrent Sync. He broke down the tools that are needed to help create a seamless user experience. In the end, can we have an environment where we can easily move Docker containers, servers, and volumes without impacting our applications? He shared his results so yo...
Don’t go chasing waterfall … development, that is. According to a recent post by Madison Moore on Medium featuring insights from several software delivery industry leaders, waterfall is – while still popular – not the best way to win in the marketplace. With methodologies like Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery becoming ever more prominent over the past 15 years or so, waterfall is old news. Or, is it? Moore cites a recent study by Gartner: “According to Gartner’s IT Key Metrics Data report, ...
Kubernetes is a new and revolutionary open-sourced system for managing containers across multiple hosts in a cluster. Ansible is a simple IT automation tool for just about any requirement for reproducible environments. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Patrick Galbraith, a principal engineer at HPE, discussed how to build a fully functional Kubernetes cluster on a number of virtual machines or bare-metal hosts. Also included will be a brief demonstration of running a Galera MyS...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...