Software Delivery Orchestration: A Complete Introduction

Aug 20, 2020

Software delivery orchestration focuses on streamlining and automating multiple tasks related to your delivery pipeline. These tasks can range from software planning to testing, deployment, and monitoring. The goal is to remove inefficiencies to reap benefits such as a reduced cloud bill, faster time to market, and improved visibility.

This article discusses software delivery orchestration and how it can positively affect your organization. We’ll start by explaining traditional DevOps practices and introduce you to software delivery orchestration to clearly show the differences and benefits. Let’s dive right into it!

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What Is Software Delivery Orchestration?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between automation and orchestration. In a traditional DevOps setup, automation means making a single, repeatable task mostly or completely automatic. For example, you might want to automate the creation of a new database or a script that can change database entries.

The goal of DevOps automation is to streamline tasks. In contrast, orchestration aims for a bigger goal. DevOps orchestration aims to automate a large number of tasks that execute simultaneously.

It’s easy to automate tasks such as launching a web server, copying a database, or changing a database entry. However, when you want to build a streamlined value stream, simply automating those tasks won’t cut it.

How Can Software Delivery Orchestration Help You?

Software delivery orchestration supports your organization with the coordination and timing of all these independent, automated tasks. For this reason, people often refer to software delivery orchestration as pipeline automation. Why? Because you’re creating a pipeline of automated steps. Each step represents one or multiple coherent tasks. Further, your orchestration tool takes care of the timing of all these independent steps to build a streamlined delivery pipeline. This way, you can remove any inefficiencies and the need for human intervention.

To give an excellent example of software delivery orchestration, imagine a company that releases new functionality every week. However, they “lose” one day of their valuable time every single week just deploying a new release. Even though they can automate a lot of tasks through DevOps automation, they still need a lot of manual intervention to spin up the new release.

To solve this problem, the company can implement a software delivery orchestration tool that automates all tasks. These tasks include creating a release, building, testing, and deploying the code to the production environment.

Check out Plutora’s release management tool to discover how easy release management is.

Why Do You Need Software Delivery Orchestration?

So, you want to learn more about the benefits of software delivery orchestration? First and foremost, software delivery orchestration helps you streamline the deployment and management of your services or application releases.

However, your organization can enjoy many more benefits from implementing software delivery orchestration. Let’s take a look at the advantages.

1. Fully Automate Your Workflow

Most importantly, software delivery orchestration allows for a fully automated pipeline, creating an optimized workflow. Here are some of the tasks that software delivery orchestration takes care of:

  • Planning of releases and new functionality

  • Pre-built steps, such as code cleanup or static analysis

  • Software testing, such as unit, integration, or end-to-end testing

  • Database and storage volume creation

  • Data preparation and data model modifications

  • Networking, such as the creation of an internal mesh network

  • Deployment of monitoring and logging tools for your service

All of the above steps are streamlined into one software delivery pipeline. Your orchestration tool takes care not only of executing the tasks but also of orchestrating them correctly. For example, a pipeline would fail if your orchestration tool tried to first deploy the code without provisioning a new database. Therefore, your orchestration tool takes care of the timing of the different tasks it has to execute.

2. Save Time and Resources

Next, let’s take a look at the time and resources your organization saves by implementing software delivery orchestration. Most importantly, your DevOps team has to spend significantly less time on managing software releases. Furthermore, they can spend time improving software delivery processes.

On top of that, software delivery orchestration helps to create a streamlined delivery process. That means it will reduce your cloud infrastructure costs. For example, your orchestration tool can take down old releases. Often, organizations forget about previous deployments, which increase the total cost of their cloud usage.

In other words, software delivery orchestration helps you save time and resources, especially among your DevOps team.

3. Enforce Best Practices

One of the main requirements of software orchestration is standardization. Standardization helps your organization to streamline processes. The best way to achieve standardization is through identifying and implementing best practices. These best practices force your employees to deliver new releases in an agreed way so your software orchestration tool can take over without the need for human intervention.

For example, many software delivery orchestration tools allow you to add pre-built steps or templates to your delivery pipeline. This way, you can create a step that checks for newly added dependencies for your application. If there are no new dependencies, you can use the cached dependencies on your server. Otherwise, you have to cache the newly added dependencies.

4. Improve Visibility

When something goes wrong with your software delivery pipeline, it’s easy to check the logs to find out which step of your delivery process has failed.

Often, your logs can tell you what went wrong as you pinpoint the problem to a particular step in your delivery process.

However, you can also choose from plenty of solutions to automatically monitor deployments and alert you when things go wrong. Therefore, software delivery orchestration is not only about software delivery but also about monitoring your application once you’ve deployed it.

5. Speed Up Time to Market

Last, a greater level of automation means you can launch services faster. Therefore, your time to market improves significantly. You can release new functionality faster, gaining a competitive edge in your industry segment.

How Does Software Delivery Orchestration Affect Your Value Streams?

Before we dive into the impact of software delivery orchestration on your IT value streams, let’s clarify what value streams are.

Value streams help organizations deliver value profitably and consistently. For example, a restaurant defines the following processes that make up its value stream to deliver value, its food:

  • Finding ingredients

  • Preparing ingredients for cooking

  • Cleaning the kitchen and restaurant

As you can see, all those tasks contribute to the value a restaurant creates. If we now take a look at software delivery orchestration, it tries to automate value streams and improve them to increase profits and customer satisfaction.

For example, a delivery orchestration tool ensures that your software will deploy with the right parameters without any downtime for the end-user. Therefore, it improves user satisfaction because they can enjoy new features without any service interruption.

Furthermore, the whole process of building, testing, and deploying your code are also part of your value stream. Again, software delivery orchestration helps you align and automate those tasks to consistently deliver high-quality software that drives profit.

Note: It's important to understand that DevOps tries to automate as much as possible. However, not every decision, such as approvals, can be automated as it still requires human intervention. 

As orchestration refers to automating all tasks related to deployment, we can automatically send a request to ask an individual for approval in the orchestration tool. For example, the orchestration tool can automatically ask the project manager for approval to release new functionality to the production environment, acting as a final approval step. This way, software delivery still happens in an automated way.

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Wrapping Up and Learning More

Hopefully, it’s clear what software delivery orchestration stands for and how it helps with managing your value streams efficiently.

A software orchestration tool helps you automate all tasks related to your value stream for delivering software. These tasks include testing, deployments, database provisioning, and even networking. The goal is to remove inefficiencies to save time, resources, and improve the time to market for your organization.

Now that you understand the benefits of software delivery orchestration, it’s time to assess whether it fits into your organization.

Want to learn more about software delivery orchestration and value streams? Check out the following resources:

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