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Plutora 2018 Predictions: Why automated software release management will be key to digital transformation in 2018

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora

Why automated software release management will be key to digital transformation in 2018

As agile companies continue to disrupt the status quo of long-standing markets and industries, large enterprises are left with a troubling dilemma - innovate or die. This might seem like an extreme statement, but a look at what Netflix's emergence as a leader in digital transformation has done to Blockbuster indicates just how real this problem is for large legacy enterprises.

The new reality is that every company needs to be a digital, software-powered company. IT projects and software functionality have permeated every aspect of every business - from backend processes all the way to customer-facing innovation, and application development is at the heart of many of these processes. Staying competitive requires swift digital transformation capable of keeping pace with the ever-increasing demand for faster app releases and updates. While small businesses and start-ups can thrive on this demand, large enterprises face many obstacles to speeding up software delivery.

There are key drivers behind the need to innovate and release software faster, but the question business leaders are left with going into 2018 is, "how do we actually increase speed and be more responsive without losing control?" To answer this question, instead of looking for small changes to project management or operations that could increase productivity, enterprises should look to automation to overhaul their release management processes and provide the means to bridge the gap between engineering speed and project management visibility, specifically:

1. The need for acceleration

There has been plenty written about the advantages of adopting agile DevOps at the engineering level to help automate and streamline technical processes. However, less is mentioned of the need for project management teams to handle all of the different automation solutions the engineering teams deploy. With manual processes, there's no way to accelerate support for the engineering side, so embracing automation where possible, and sensible, withing release management will enable teams to keep pace with their counterparts in development.

2. Risk perspective

Every software release is accompanied by a certain level of risk for the business. Whether it's a bug in a customer-facing system that leads to revenue loss or an internal IT system that crashes and diminishes productivity, software release risk must be managed. As delivery demand increases, manual release management also brings with it some additional risk as project management teams work to keep pace with increased release cycles. Automated release management provides additional visibility into the total risk landscape - something manual processes can't provide

3. Multiple delivery pipelines at the engineering level

When release schedules were based on a 12-month or bi-annual pace, it was much easier for project managers to manually track delivery pipelines. However, daily or weekly cycles are creating major overlap between delivery pipelines - and the sheer volume of delivery pipelines increases on a near-daily basis. Additionally, one failed process or pipeline conflict can compromise many other applications and projects, causing a ripple effect throught an organization. Managing these pipelines with spreadsheets simply won't work anymore, driving the need for delivery management change and automation is here to answer the call.

Bringing teams together

One of the main challenges businesses will continue to face in 2018 when trying to speed up the IT delivery process is the widening gap between the management portions of IT - delivery and operations teams. Project teams are largely focused on the development and delivery functions, and generally accept and facilitate improvements to increase the speed of delivery. With a deep concern for making delivery faster, better, and cheaper, the delivery teams are usually very responsive to the adoption of automated technology and the acceleration necessary for digital transformation.

The operations side, on the other hand, is concerned with securing and protecting the integrity of production environments. While this governance and quality assurance is vital to the delivery process, manual approaches to operations are a hindrance to the modern rate of releases. When engineering teams followed relatively slow and methodical release cycles, the gap between project management and operations was manageable. Business demand for greater agility necessitates a more streamlined and automated approach to quality and risk.

Deeper down the value stream, engineering teams will use numerous tools and platforms to build new software and release it. For example, there could be hundreds of projects going on at once, each one supported by tools such as Puppet, Jenkins, JRA, Rally, and more. With so many tools, individual engineering teams have plenty of resources to speed up their processes - but only in isolated pockets. To break down the silos, both development and operations need a way to coordinate across multiple tools to gather the necessary information to manage delivery processes holistically.

Automated enterprise release management is the bridge between project delivery and operations. It connects the two management components to the underlying engineering level - no matter the tools they choose to use. Enterprise release management sits between project management and operations and builds a comprehensive view of all information related to IT delivery throughout the organization.

The upside of automated enterprise release management

Streamlining the release management, test environment management, and deployment processes enables changes to be made more quickly. By keeping up with release demand, companies can deliver a differentiated customer experience necessary for survival in increasingly competitive digital markets.

Traditional manual spreadsheet strategies often lead to rework for IT delivery teams - especially when demands increase to meet digital transformation needs. Automated enterprise release management eliminates the need to reconcile inconsistent information on a day-to-day basis.

Similarly, unifying release processes throughout the organization allows management teams to absorb more information about changes while controlling IT service quality even under heavy speed demands.

Digital transformation is here and now for many, and on the horizon for many more. In 2018, more organizations will look to implement an automated enterprise release management solution that enables them to move faster and be more responsive to market changes by addressing the risk management element of IT delivery. When quality management and governance are also built into automated enterprise release management solutions, digital transformation will become a much less risky venture.


About the Author

Bob Davis 

Bob Davis, CMO, Plutora

Bob Davis is the CMO at Plutora, a leading provider of continuous delivery management. Davis has more than 30 years of experience leading high technology companies, from emerging start-ups to Global 500 corporations. Before joining Plutora, Davis was the CMO at Atlantis Computing. Davis has a proven track record using analysis-driven and measurable revenue-based marketing methodologies. He has propelled company growth at data storage and IT management companies including Kaseya, CA, Netreon, Novell and Intel. 

Published Thursday, January 18, 2018 7:28 AM by David Marshall
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