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Plutora Blog - Release Management, Test Environment Management

Transparency and Communication: The Keys to More Agile Software Releases

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Two decades makes a huge difference for software developers. We’ve gone from months-long development cycles to lifecycles measured in weeks or days, with some on the “bleeding edge” executing highly agile software releases even more frequently than that.

At Plutora, our management team has been at the forefront of this transformation for decades. We’ve moved the largest organizations from quarterly releases to daily release cadences, and we’ve seen everything that works and everything that doesn’t. Of all the factors that contribute to more agile software releases, our own experience has taught us that transparency and communication make all the difference.

You can throw as many automation tools at a large enterprise as you want, but until release management has visibility you will not achieve greater agility. DevOps is about communication.

Without the appropriate management tools, attempts at greater agility turn into unmanageable anarchy and large organizations regress to earlier patterns of inefficiency. This is why we created Plutora. Our SaaS solution provides the structure for more agile software releases.

Critical to the success of our efforts is the ability to accommodate the realities of the modern enterprise by supporting newer, more nimble release models alongside slower-moving legacy projects. Our platform is designed to support your process, without dictating adherence to a cookie-cutter approach to software development. It’s your process, and we’re only here to support it.

Moving Faster without Stumbling: Transparency and Communication

If you want to move faster without stumbling and increasing the risks that accompany software releases, you need to focus on automation, quality, and a more detailed “orchestration” of release activities.

Detailed orchestration is Plutora’s bread and butter. We’ll help you track the responsibility and effort required for automation and quality initiatives, but it’s our responsibility to systemically identify what cues need to be delivered in what sequence to successfully orchestrate hundreds of actors in an efficient release process.

The “detailed orchestration” component of enterprise DevOps is under-appreciated because, when it works, it’s the least noticeable aspect of DevOps.

When you hear about a large company adopting DevOps to speed up the delivery of software, these stories often tend to focus on technology – that is, tools. Specifically, you’ll hear stories of individual developers using automation tools to create fully automated deployment scripts.

This is the current picture of DevOps: these companies finally decided to let the developers have access to production-facing systems, and they were able to both cut out the “middle man” and move faster. This tool-driven aspect of DevOps is important, but it isn’t the full story.

At scale, these successes are only possible when you have other tools that support a faster pace of software delivery. Unless you’re working with one development team startup, DevOps needs some structure to succeed in a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Automation Tools are Not Enough

In a large organization, an organization with thousands of developers, developer-enablement by itself doesn’t create a more agile environment. At scale you need structure – structure to support developers who find themselves in a position to automate.

You need a way to track the usage of cloud services, and, even when infrastructure is self-service, you need a window into how projects and developers are making use of these services.

DevOps has transformed the way we deploy software, but the message of effortless, tool-driven simplicity can be misleading.

Through our work, we’ve been afforded a window into thousands of companies practicing DevOps, and we’ve found a correlation between DevOps success and a commitment to detailed release planning.

Along with the capabilities introduced by tools like Puppet and Chef, you also need tools to sequence releases and guarantee that your own staff isn’t overwhelmed by the pace of automation.

Doing More with Less, Faster… Yesterday

Software is transforming businesses across all industries, and the pace of both innovation and software delivery has increased. If you work at a bank or an airline, your output is often measured in the number of application features “delivered” as well as more traditional metrics such as availability.

We’re optimizing our organizations and the way that we think about software to minimize time-to-market and maximize developer productivity.

Trends such as DevOps and cloud computing are focused on the dual goals of greater “agility” coupled with greater efficiency. Do more with less, and do it faster.

Most CIOs and CTOs have adapted. If you go to any large organization you’ll see that teams have been aligned with these trends. Every company we’ve interacted with in 2016 has a DevOps initiative.

Across all global regions and all markets the focus of the last several years has been one of accelerated development and delivery, and we’re seeing evidence that organizations are moving faster as measured by the metrics collected by our customers.

As part of our own commitment to agility and customer-focused innovation we regularly interact with our customers and we incorporate feedback into our development process immediately. If a customer experiences a bug or if a customer has a novel requirement our developers have the tools to understand and adapt to novel use cases.

Over 93% of our customers report that Plutora enables a faster delivery cycle within one month of adoption. Within a single month our software starts paying for itself – the opportunity cost of inefficiency is reduced, and teams are able to focus on execution. The ability to measure this inefficiency in existing release processes yields immediate results. Just understanding where the bottlenecks are and being able to visualize them was enough to drive quick results.

More Agile Software Releases: Just a Key’s Turn Away

Several months after adoption our customers tell us that they couldn’t imagine conducting releases across multiple projects without Plutora, and in more than one customer we’ve been told that Plutora “unlocked” the organization.

In one particular case a company was unable to make progress on critical business initiatives due to unmanageable interdependencies between projects. One project would release a new feature only to uncovered bugs in dependent systems requiring rework. Teams were deadlocked on environments, and at one point the entire QA team informed management that it would impossible to fully test a release prior to deploying in production due to environment shortages.

Such are the problems that plague the enterprise. The problems that make companies throw up their hands and give up on the idea of 100% uptime or 100% quality. When you operate at the largest scales the complications seem to grow exponentially because you have so many interactions and so many projects with varying requirements.

It can seem impossible, but we’re here to tell you that it isn’t. We’ve identified some of the pain points that accompany releases at scale, and we’ve created a tool that can help you address complexity and scale through transparency and communication. If you are looking to “unlock” your organization’s potential the quickest way to do this is to start shining a light on your release management challenges with Plutora.

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Our mission is to enable companies to manage their enterprise IT pipeline, enterprise IT releases, and IT environments in a simple and transparent manner. Learn about us or find out more about our products.

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