From Release Anxiety to Release Orchestration

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From Release Anxiety to Release Orchestration

Release is THE enterprise problem and release managers carry the weight of successful digital transformation on their shoulders. However, while their colleagues in development and operations get to use and experiment with the latest and greatest tools, release managers often must rely on emails, spreadsheets and disconnected project management tools to keep abreast of things. Weekend-long release sessions, early morning update meetings and last-minute delays (not to mention the long recovery times after something goes wrong during a production release) leave release managers in a constant state of “release anxiety.” To keep pace with digital transformation, release managers need to make data-driven decisions during all phases of a release cycle with: • An easily repeatable way to ensure quality, integrity and security throughout the release process, no matter the scale. • Predictive analytics to plan, schedule, track and improve pipelines, releases, and deployments. • Immediate access to the history and flow of any release candidate through every step to show who did what, when, where and how. This eBook examines common job requirements for release managers and describes how application release orchestration (ARO) eliminates release anxiety by making releases systematic, predictable and repeatable.

Job Description The release manager will be responsible for owning the release management lifecycle. This includes scheduling, coordinating and managing releases across technology. The release manager is expected to: • Plan releases in advance. • Coordinate with the appropriate teams. • Provide clear reporting on status to project managers, senior stakeholders and the technology leadership team. The release manager needs to collaborate on a regular basis with technical, database and quality engineering (QE) leads, development managers and the project management office (PMO).

Release Manager job posting excerpted from LinkedIn, 5-September, 2018

Release anxiety is that sinking feeling release managers get when yet another last-minute bug or resource conflict causes them to delay the next release or cancel their family plans for the weekend – again.

A release manager’s job is to get software released to production so that it can last and deliver value. They are measured on constantly improving release frequency, success rates, and effectiveness while ensuring everything stays compliant. Typically with few direct reports and under continuous scrutiny, their success hinges on everyone involved in a release, from engineering to help desk, doing what they say they are going to do – correctly, when they say they will do it. As one recent job posting from LinkedIn stated, release managers must be “comfortable wielding influence instead of authority.”

With only influence at their disposal, combined with a tool kit of outdated and unconnected tools, the job of a release manager is a serious challenge. The list of complaints from release managers is long and daunting.

“It takes too long to release value to market and there’s no way to see where the waste is.”

“I have to move fast but I cannot compromise governance.”

“I’m under constant pressure to improve (based on my MBOs) but lack the visibility or current data to know where and how.”

“We have lots of tools that do automation, but it’s all in silos. I don’t need a 61st tool in the chain that creates its own echo chamber.”

“We have pockets of automation in our processes, but there are still too many manual steps – most of which are unknown or uncontrollable.”

What is Application Release Orchestration? CloudBees’ Application Release Orchestration (ARO) platform, CloudBees Flow, helps organizations like E*TRADE, HPE, Intel and Lockheed Martin confidently release new applications and adapt to change at any speed demanded by the business, with the analytics and insight to measure, track and improve their results.

Why ARO is different Application release orchestration matters because getting software to market faster is the new secret weapon. It helps companies release on business demand by enabling them to: • Model repeatable, predictable and manageable workflows that provide a rehearsable, well-worn path to production that others can follow. • Accelerate time to revenue with the ability to show results quickly through the creation, versioning and sharing of multiple delivery pipelines and environments. • Reduce and control costs through customizable automation that eliminates steps, especially errors caused by manual handoffs and scripts. • Easily adapt to shifting market demands, technology innovation and process change. • Confidently speed up cycle times by predictably delivering releases at any speed and scale. • Improve management controls and governance through structured, cross-functional automation with role-based access controls, integrated planning and activity tracking. • Shift quality and security left by detecting – and correcting – problems before they get into production.

Why is ARO Important to Release Managers? There is a natural disconnect between the tools that release managers use and the tasks they are asked to perform. Spreadsheets, while familiar, are not always up to date. Email and phone messages are never answered immediately. Nothing in the release manager’s tool kit can ensure policies are enforced. Nowhere is there a single source of truth for what’s happening across enterprise release trains right now. The following are requirements excerpted from actual job postings on LinkedIn and descriptions of how ARO can help release managers make releases boring and predictable.


2 3 4 5 6

Ability to work under stress at odd hours to keep the release process going Provide regular executive reports Experience working on cloud-enabled deployments with 1000s of dependencies and conditions Drive the release planning process; identifying gaps and areas of improvement and driving efficiencies throughout the organization Create common standards for release playbooks and work with production control to standardize release decision-making Be the final decision maker on go/no go decisions related to releases


Ability to work under stress at odd hours to keep the release process going Uh, really? Why would anyone want to work at a place that advertises those kinds of working conditions? Having to constantly work odd, unpredictable hours is, in fact, the symptom of non-standard release processes, inconsistent environment management and brittle, snowflake pipelines. Releases are supposed to be boring and predictable. ARO guarantees results and gives release managers their personal lives back by providing: • The ability to model releases, environments and processes that are proven to work and can be versioned, tested and reused by everyone via a self-service catalog. • A top-down, real-time perspective of all release portfolios and environment reservations in a single view. • Role-based access control, with automatic or manual approvals, to ensure security, visibility and compliance.

“I like not working nights and weekends anymore.” – Gary McKay, Scrum Master, SOMOS


Provide regular executive reports “What’s happening?” isn’t a friendly greeting when posed by an executive or product owner. It’s a demand to know what – exactly – is the status of a single release or an entire release portfolio. “Let me check with and get back to you” is rarely an acceptable answer. ARO helps release managers with reporting to executives by providing: • A centralized, automatic view of all activities and processes to visualize the entire release portfolio. • Easy-to-access multiple dashboards of key release metrics, including throughput, success rates, resource utilization and more. • Facts-based risk analysis of any release with clear insight on how to lower that risk.


Experience working on cloud-enabled deployments with 1000s of dependencies and conditions So just what does a spreadsheet that shows thousands of release dependencies and conditions ACTUALLY look like? Without a 24/7 launch status call, how can any one human being ensure all those conditions are met? ARO helps release managers manage complex release trains by providing: • The ability to model, enforce and visualize release portfolios and their status. • An overall, real-time view of nested release and pipeline dependencies, including stage-level status, with drill-down details.


Drive the release planning process; identifying gaps and areas of improvement and driving efficiencies throughout the organization It’s common for dev to hand a build off to test, who then eventually does a manual deployment to test environments (if and when they are available). Then someone manually kicks off automated testing. Promotion to the next stage is manual and dependent upon someone else “getting around to it.” Spreadsheets can’t warn of impending resource or environment conflicts. Gantt charts can’t expose wait times and outdated processes. Email and voice messages don’t give any insight about what might go wrong or what step was missed. ARO helps release managers improve the speed and efficiency of releases by providing: • Unprecedented visibility into the risks hidden within releases and the data-driven ways to lower those risks. • Detailed analytics into time spent per stage, and time spent in automated vs. manual activities. • The ability to simultaneously visualize delivery timelines and environment availability and eliminate potential conflicts.


Create common standards for release playbooks and work with production control to standardize release decision-making Standard release playbooks are great when everyone can be counted on to do things exactly the same way and all the tools stay the same year to year. In the real world, release managers have to give dev and ops teams proven pipelines that work, with the flexibility to safely experiment with new methods and tools, while still holding everyone accountable. ARO helps release managers create and promote standard and flexible playbooks by providing: • A visual and flexible pipeline that allows secure, consistent and compliant promotion of releases across stages. • A self-service catalog of extensible, proven and approved automation for easy on-boarding and reuse. • Manual or automated approval gates to speed releases through the pipeline in a managed and auditable way.


Be the final decision maker on go/no go decisions related to releases With modeled, repeatable pipelines release managers can confidently make final release decisions knowing all the proof is there. All conditions have been met, a full audit trail is available at the click of a button, what was presented for promotion into production is exactly what was expected and the risks of that release are clearly understood by all stakeholders. ARO turns release managers into release orchestrators by providing: • Immutable, up-to-date visibility into the status of all release trains. • Confidence to release on business demand at the push of a button - or through full automation. • Data-supported reason to go home on time and enjoy evenings and weekends with family and friends.

Summary CloudBees Flow turns release managers into release orchestrators – able to confidently release applications at any speed or scale whenever the business demands it. The ARO platform eliminates release anxiety by making the process of delivering software consistent, repeatable and auditable.

About CloudBees is powering the continuous economy by offering the world’s first end-to-end continuous software delivery management system (SDM). For millions of developers and product teams driving innovation for businesses large or small, SDM builds on continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to enable all functions and teams within and around the software delivery organization to best work together to amplify value creation. CloudBees is the CI, CD and application release orchestration (ARO) powerhouse, built on the commercial success of its products as well as its open source leadership. CloudBees is the largest contributor to Jenkins and a founding member of the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF). From startups with full-stack developers practicing NoOps to large Fortune 100 companies, CloudBees enables all software-driven organizations to intelligently deploy the right capabilities at the right time. To learn more about ARO solutions from CloudBees visit:

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