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An early believer in the ability of Java to deliver "enterprise-grade" software, Andrew Phillips quickly focused on the development of high-throughput, resilient and scalable J2EE applications. Specializing in concurrency and high performance development, Andrew gained substantial experience of the intricacies, complexity and challenges of enterprise application environments while working for a succession of multinationals. Continuously focused on effectively integrating promising new developments in the Java space into corporate software development, Andrew joined XebiaLabs in March 2009, where he is a member of the development team of their deployment automation product Deployit. Amongst others, he also contributes to Multiverse, an open-source Java STM implementation, and jclouds, a leading Java cloud library. Andrew is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 24 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Why Application Release Automation needs a Release and an Operations view

02.01.2012
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As the interface between Development and Operations, Application Release Management1 handles information that is highly relevant to your Release and Operations teams. Selecting an Application Release Automation solution that provides insight and analytics from both perspectives is thus a key component of an effective DevOps strategy.

Here, we explain how Deployit‘s Infrastructure and new Release Overview features help you achieve this goal.

Continuous Delivery & the Release Perspective

In today’s highly competitive economic environment, the need to bring new features to market quickly, flexibly and reliably is paramount – a goal that is ultimately the aim of the main IT trends Cloud, Agile and DevOps.

Continuous Delivery – extending Continuous Integration to automatically transition applications down the Dev-Test-Acc-Prod delivery pipeline – is a key component of this strategy. In order to be able to effectively implement this, your ARA solution needs to allow your developers – or, in larger organisations, release or DevOps teams, to quickly and efficiently answer questions such as:

  • How far is MyApplication down the road to Production?
  • When will MyApplication take the next step down the road?
  • What do I still need to do before that next step can be taken2?

Ideally, this dashboard would also allow you to plan MyApplication‘s next step and calculate the estimated go-live data, perhaps even based on an analysis of previews versions of MyApplication.

(Virtual) Environment Management & the Operations Perspective

From an Operations point of view, an individual application is only a small part of the picture. Across your Dev-Test-Acc-Prod landscape, you will need to track all applications vying for these environments, to manage potentially conflicting resource requests, plan environment maintenance activities and the like.

Since these environments are often owned and managed by different teams and certainly have varying service levels, you will also want to limit your view to one or a subset of these environments at a time.

Your Operations or DevOps teams need to know:

  • Which application versions are currently deployed to my environment(s), or were deployed at a certain point in time?
  • Which components do these applications consist of? On which middleware and infrastructure systems are these components deployed?
  • What are the current values of any properties or settings for these components? Which environment-specific customizations have been applied?

Cloud and the on-demand environments it enables will eventually replace the rigid Dev-Test-Acc-Prod distinction3. Nevertheless, the ability to present an environment-centric view will still be required, since virtual environments will still be owned by different groups or teams. Indeed, such a perspective will be even more important if you want to effectively combat “virtual sprawl”.

While the coming generations of “true” cloud architectures will hopefully reduce the shared resource conflicts that greatly complicate much of today’s Dev-Test-Acc-Prod management, databases, legacy systems and external payment providers are not likely to disappear anytime soon.

In fact, Facebook, Twitter and other social elements of your future business services may even increase the number of shared resources you need to manage!

Incorporating ARA Data in the Service Delivery Picture

Whilst your ARA solution should be your “go-to” platform for answers about how your applications and environments relate, it is equally important to consider when this data might be more effectively embedded in a broader service delivery picture.

For example, your ARA platform is not a good candidate for providing a release calendar, since it is not aware of much of the information that is relevant in this context, such as CAB4 meeting schedules, business sign-off dates or operational maintenance windows.

It is thus important to ensure that your ARA solution can make its data accessible via APIs such as RSS feeds, iCal calendars and other APIs, to enable effective integrations with the rest of your service delivery tooling.

Conclusion

The right Application Release Automation platform gives your Delivery and Operations teams fast, accurate insight into your application environments and delivery pipeline.

Choosing a solution like Deployit with focused Operations and Delivery overviews as well as open APIs for easy integration into your overall Service Delivery dashboards and reports greatly enhances the accessibility and effectiveness of your application release management.

Footnotes
  1. a.k.a. Deployment Automation – choose your favourite ;-)
  2. For instance, certain blocking release conditions, such as test sign-off, may still need to be met.
  3. and have long done so in many forward-looking organisations
  4. Change Advisory Board

 

From http://blog.xebia.com/2012/02/01/why-application-release-automation-needs-a-release-and-an-operations-view/

Published at DZone with permission of Andrew Phillips, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)