CloudBees recently announced the acquisition of Electric Cloud, combining the product capabilities of two well-known players in the CI/CD and Application Release Automation/Application Release Orchestration (ARA/ARO) space. This article provides a summary of the acquisition and guidance on what this means to businesses as they establish and mature their processes, enabling technology in support of more continuous delivery of software.

CloudBees and Electric Cloud Acquisition Overview:

  • CloudBees announced its acquisition of Electric Cloud in April 2019.
  • CloudBees has multiple products such as Jenkins Core, CodeShip, Jenkins X, and DevOptics. CloudBees has focused on continuous integration tooling for both traditional workloads and more recently for containers via a new product called Jenkins X.
  • Electric Cloud has multiple products including Electric Accelerator for Build Automation and Electric Flow for Deployment Automation and Release Automation/Orchestration.
  • The acquisition seeks to create end-to-end capabilities for CI/CD and Release Automation and Orchestration.

Why would CloudBees acquire Electric Cloud?

Most businesses are realizing they are in the business of software, and all businesses are under immense pressure to deliver more innovation, better user experiences, and, in general, more effective software solutions for external and internal customers. Traditional release automation is operations centric and separate from development. This results in significant software delivery slowdowns and applications missing the mark.

Increasing the velocity of software delivery is a challenge and requires more automated, collaborative, visible, and efficient software delivery processes. These processes and their supporting tools need to ensure speed and quality, while supporting self-service for developers and the ability to apply governance and control when necessary. True transformation using DevOps and Continuous Delivery requires seamless processes across development and operations.

CloudBees focused on CI and, to some extent, on deployment automation via Jenkins Pipelines. But that wasn’t enough, a holistic solution requires deployment automation and release orchestration. The Electric Cloud Flow product fills CloudBees’ gaps related to deployment automation and release orchestration.

Over time, CloudBees will likely provide a more integrated DevOps solution based on the various products in the combined CloudBees + Electric Cloud portfolio of products. While marketing to that end may begin immediately, it’s important to note that a truly combined solution will take time to create, as the products were built as separate tools.

What does this mean to businesses adopting DevOps, CI/CD, and Release Orchestration?

Businesses need to manage their software delivery as a unified practice, with shared data, common processes, collaboration, and end-to-end visibility. This acquisition is another example of the importance of 3 broad capabilities required for a comprehensive and integrated solution:

1) Build and Continuous Integration

2) Continuous Delivery

3) Release Automation and Orchestration.

Said another way, a “Unified Platform” = CI (Build) + CD + Release Automation and Orchestration. This unified platform eliminates the barriers and silos between CI, CD, and ARA/ARO.

Build and CI are a critical component, but Jenkins and Jenkins pipelines aren’t enough. To keep up with the speed of business, it is critical to enable CI/CD and Release Orchestration. And not just for emerging technologies, but for any application, from traditional middleware and packaged applications to microservices and containers, on-premise to cloud, self-managed to self-service.

CloudBees’ recent acquisition is an example of how the IT industry is recognizing the importance of that unified platform. However, it’s important for businesses to recognize the difference between a truly unified platform and separate products that have an integration between them. Until CloudBees has time to fully develop and realize their vision and unify what are currently separately built, they will not offer a truly unified platform. FlexDeploy, on the other hand, is a truly integrated platform, that was built and maintained that way.

When investigating options for a unified platform with CI + CD + Release Orchestration, it’s important to look at whether or not the platform incorporates multiple separate products, like CloudBees, as well as the details for the technologies being deployed. For example:

  • Which ERP are you using today and for the next 10 years? Do you have middleware, and if so, how does the vendor support the build/CI and deployment automation for those specific technologies?
  • Do the products use adaptive model-based workflow and pipeline automation which provide abstraction from the deployment target environments?
  • Do the products eliminate the need to create complex rollback scripts by maintaining an inventory across environments and tracking artifact versions as part of each deployment?
  • Is there visibility across development teams into every feature and release content spanning all environments and projects?
  • What are the costs for licensing and implementing a solution which spans CI, CD, and Release Automation and Orchestration? Beyond the implementation, what are the costs for maintaining and evolving the implementation as your technology landscape evolves?

CloudBees’ recent acquisition highlights the importance of an end-to-end solution.

This acquisition reiterates what Flexagon has been saying for years: an integrated platform for CI, CD and Application Release Orchestration is the gold standard. While this acquisition gets that functionality under the same roof, it is still delivered via multiple tools and not one integrated platform.

When evaluating what this acquisition means for your IT strategy, evaluate whether true integration, comprehensive coverage, and manageable cost is important to you. If the answer to any of those is yes, there are better platforms available.

Rebecca Pruess

I have been in Human Resources roles for the past handful of years, including work in Recruiting, Compliance, and Immigration. At Flexagon, I serve as the Director of Marketing and People Operations, and enjoy every minute of it!

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