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Focus on key priorities

How to Integrate Release Management with DevOps

Bob Davis
© Shutterstock / Jittapon.k

DevOps is continuing to make a transformational impact on the ability of businesses to innovate and compete in today’s digital-centric industries. The key to adopting these methodologies is the integration of release management, which can deliver significant benefits for the whole software delivery process. Getting it right, however, requires organisations to focus on some key priorities.

In the software development process, release management is essential to ensure updates, patches, and new product or service capabilities are cost-effectively and efficiently delivered to production environments.

Without it, organisations may encounter a range of problems and roadblocks. These can include inefficient development pipelines, poorly targeted resources or a software development process that delivers low-impact features or fragile code. The knock-on effect of these issues can have a negative impact on everything from customer satisfaction and business efficiency to competitive advantage and even the bottom line.

The gap between the development and IT operations teams typically sits at the heart of many difficulties organisations have with software release strategy. In response, many have adopted a DevOps technique to bridge the divide, providing value faster than would otherwise be possible.

In practical terms, teams that combine DevOps with an Agile approach to development typically focus on more targeted coding priorities to speed up the feedback process. This helps address issues more quickly, and because there are fewer handoffs between teams, risks are decreased and, as a result, the overall software delivery processes can be accelerated.

Moreover, breaking down work into smaller chunks also minimises the scale of each release event and allows organisations to implement a process of continuous delivery. Another valuable by-product of this approach is that DevOps and Agile help create better work environments where issues such as burnout are less likely to have an impact than traditional approaches.

The key to adopting these methodologies is the integration of release management, which can deliver significant benefits for the whole software delivery process. Getting it right, however, requires organisations to focus on some key priorities:

SEE ALSO: An introduction to JobRunr, a distributed background job scheduler

Sing from the same hymn sheet

One of the most fundamental issues is that every stakeholder in the DevOps process should understand the terminology being used. For example, teams don’t always define key processes such as ‘deploy’ and ‘release’ in the same way (where a release is prepared and deployed to production before being released to users). While this can seem like a minor consideration, it’s illustrative of the broader problems disparate teams can encounter with their use of technical vocabulary.

As DevOps becomes more broadly implemented and applicable to more people, eliminating misunderstandings can help boost efficiency and communication.

Minimise risk

While traditional software development often deploys code at scale, this can have the knock-on effect of increasing risk and significantly adding to the complexity of release scheduling. What’s more, development teams are slowed down by the need to wait until a forthcoming release date to implement additional updates or fixes.

DevOps, on the other hand, minimises risk with a smaller scale, incremental approach that addresses these issues and helps organisations implement more effective processes that embrace the agility teams need to meet broader business objectives.

Focus on value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is an important process that allows organisations to identify and optimise the information and materials needed to build and deliver any product or service.

In the software development context, it helps teams to understand how they can make adjustments to their approach to improve the flow of value for the customer. For instance, effective DevOps removes knowledge and experience silos to accelerate the time to value for any particular project and enables everyone involved to understand their role in keeping value flowing.

Understand the role of Value Stream Management

Using an effective Value Stream Management (VSM) platform gives teams the ability to bring together their DevOps toolchain, allowing them to continually review the value flow.

In doing so, they benefit from greater visibility of the complete value journey because they can continually review progress, uncover new insights, and act on them in real-time.

This supports the use of a CICD (Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery) pipeline, whereby teams can test and optimise their code earlier in the process. In addition, teams can more effectively implement orchestration and automation tools to deliver more consistent releases that can be delivered to users with much greater confidence.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways GitOps Can Make Developers’ Lives Easier

Adopt an incremental approach

Many large organisations will be familiar with the challenge of introducing new approaches to existing, interdependent teams where change can be disruptive and hard to deliver. However, adopting an incremental approach to software releases promotes independent decision-making and helps teams adjust their processes to remain focused on the value stream and avoid the limitations of traditional methods.

DevOps is continuing to make a transformational impact on the ability of businesses to innovate and compete in today’s digital-centric industries. Playing an increasingly important role, release management takes manual, drawn-out processes and replaces them with techniques and tools that significantly improve software delivery speed and efficiency. This ‘win-win’ can be achieved while also focusing on improving the quality of updates to help customers achieve their objectives.

Author

Bob Davis

Bob Davis, CMO, brings to Plutora more than 30 years of engineering, marketing and sales management experience with high technology organisations from emerging start-ups to global 500 corporations. Before joining Plutora, Bob was the Chief Marketing Officer at Atlantis Computing, a provider of Software Defined and Hyper Converged solutions for enterprise customers. He has propelled company growth at data storage and IT management companies including Kaseya (co-founder, acquired by Insight Venture Partners), Sentilla, CA, Netreon (acquired by CA), Novell and Intel.


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