2022 is going to be an exciting year for FlexDeploy. Before we look ahead, let’s reflect on Flexagon’s original mission as it continues to drive our product roadmap and company investments. The six founders of Flexagon worked for years in the trenches of enterprise software platforms. We have a combined 100+ years of experience dealing with the complexity of enterprise software development and operations across infrastructure, database, middleware, and applications. This experience includes deep knowledge of commercial, open source, and home-grown tools used today.
From this experience, we grew to understand that there was a better way to deliver software.
We knew we could make the complex simple.
Our mission, and passion, is making it simple to drive continuous innovation through quality software. Reducing the frustration experienced by those who participate in the process of delivering, supporting, and using enterprise software solutions. All the while, helping customers achieve greater customer value at significantly lower cost and with less risk.
Years ago, working on an IT team, I recall countless times when our business users would be terribly upset when we missed our delivery milestones exacerbated by issues with inadequate quality in the production environment. The immense pressure to deliver on time and with quality caused many a sleepless night by the development and operations teams—only to fail to meet expectations. It was terrible for everyone, including the end users whom we let down. The issues were driven by the complexity of the applications, middleware, database, and infrastructure and the fact that we did not have the right processes and tools in place.
Fast forward to 2022
Enterprises continue to shift to more agile and continuous software development and delivery.
They are adopting new architectures, cloud services, applications, middleware, and tools that support the planning, testing, securing, and monitoring lifecycle. Most enterprises have intricate, legacy systems with deep rooted processes that will not be going away—at least not soon—and with this comes heightened challenges for their process and technology evolution.
The 4 Anchors of the FlexDeploy Roadmap
In 2021 Flexagon worked with organizations around the globe from high tech to biotech, from manufacturing to retail and many more, in both private and public sectors. What these organizations had in common is that they sought a solution to address their current tech stack and IT landscape while easing adoption of emerging technology and agile processes for faster and more effective continuous delivery. This is exactly the problem that FlexDeploy solves.
1. DevOps Platform Capabilities
FlexDeploy provides the foundation for Build Automation, Continuous Integration, and an Artifact Repository which makes it easy to automate the packaging of code, configurations, metadata and more into artifacts which are versioned and stored in the artifact repository. These features work seamlessly with source control tools and built-in integrations with many open source or commercial technologies.
Layered on that foundation is Deployment Automation which pulls versioned artifacts from the repository and moves them automatically into a subsequent environment. In addition to automating a typically manual or scripted process, Deployment Automation handles complexities such as sequencing and dependencies when deploying changes. Release Orchestration streamlines the end-to-end process of governing changes as they flow across a series of stages in a pipeline. This makes it easy to manage and deliver releases to a desired cadence and apply the governance and controls appropriate for each release.
2. Out-of-Box Support for Enterprise Software Platforms
FlexDeploy is the only DevOps platform that addresses the complexities of the Oracle, Salesforce, and SAP ecosystems. The COTS support includes traditional on-prem database, middleware, business intelligence, applications, and cloud services for infrastructure, platform, and software applications. Customers can eliminate manual activities and scripting and simplify the complexities of developing, administrating, and operating within these ecosystems.
For example, the OOB support for Salesforce helps developers manage and automate the customizations and metadata they are changing across their orgs and sandboxes, seamlessly integrate with source control tools like Git, and package and deploy changes individually and together. Similarly, the OOB support for Oracle includes the detailed knowledge of the on-premises and cloud products and services such as E-Business Suite customizations, SaaS Fusion setup tasks, Business Intelligence web catalog objects, and Integration Cloud interfaces, connections, lookups, and libraries.
3. Vast Toolchain Integration Library
Customers can leverage their existing investments while taking advantage of FlexDeploy’s built-in platform features. They have flexibility in choice to therefore integrate with best-of-breed tools across the toolchain. Examples include integration with:
- secrets management tools like CyberArk and Azure Key Vault
- planning and change management tools like Jira and ServiceNow
- source control tools such as Git and SVN
- test and security tools like Tosca, SonarQube, and Checkmarx
The result is a seamless end to end toolchain and user experience which maps onto the processes and tools of each unique tech landscape. Developers, Release Managers, and others playing a role in the development and delivery lifecycle spend their time with the tools which make them more productive and effective. Not time jumping from tool to tool, duplicating data, and attempting to stitch together data in planning tools like Jira, source control like Git, and change management tools like ServiceNow.
The integration across the toolchain makes sure the tools ‘just work.’
“The team was elated with the results; the developers felt that they were being provided with a strong tool that made their jobs easier… In short, it just works.” -Senior EBS Developer, Starkey
4. Value Stream Management
An integrated DevOps platform provides the essential capabilities for consistently delivering software fast and with quality. Value Stream Management (VSM) extends the benefits by capturing, analyzing, and visualizing the end-to-end software development and delivery process. VSM helps make sure bottlenecks are eliminated and minimized while ensuring resources are applied to applications and solutions which tie to successful business outcomes.
FlexDeploy provides both native features in support of managing the value stream or integrates with 3rd party VSM tools. Like other functional areas such as planning and issue tracking, Flexagon’s strategy is to provide out of the box support for a VSM foundation while making it easy to integrate with external tools such as Tasktop and Plutora.
What’s New in FlexDeploy: 2021 Highlights
The combination of FlexDeploy’s comprehensive platform capabilities, vast toolchain integration library, and extensive support for COTS maximize value and continuous innovation for our customers. The past year has seen new capabilities aligned to these 4 product anchors. The following provides a brief overview of just some of these enhancements.
General Platform Capabilities
- Next Gen UX delivers a simplified and more productive experience. Our approach is to evolve the UI instead of replacing it with a net new product. The beginning phase of a modern UI/UX delivered in mid-2021 provides a significantly more robust reporting solution which includes the ability to customize, save queries, and in general give more flexibility in reporting.
- Pre-deploy workflows and dynamic packages provide flexibility for users to define their deployment and release processes to address real-world scenarios that require optimizations in how code and configurations are packaged and deployed across environments. This includes everything from infrastructure as code use cases with tools like Terraform and business intelligence use cases with SaaS, and customizations for Salesforce and other enterprise software platforms.
- A browser extension solution was delivered to eliminate some of the back and forth between applications that might be needed today. Browser extensions increase developer productivity by sending content to FlexDeploy via webhooks without having to leave their development environment. This enables powerful use cases like initiating a build, creating a snapshot, updating a package, and committing to source control while the developers are working with the tools that make them most productive.
Enterprise Systems Platform Support
- FlexDeploy for Salesforce leapt forward with features to optimize the development and administrative experience including productivity improvements for managing Salesforce orgs and integration with source control like Git and streamlining the automated test and validation process.
- Long-standing applications PeopleSoft and Seibel are now complemented by a DevOps solution that helps customers better deal with cumbersome and error prone processes for deploying customizations to their implementations when running on-premises or moving to the cloud. FlexDeploy for PeopleSoft and Siebel address these complexities by automating manual activities and establishing repeatable and high-quality deployments of changes across test and production environments.
- Oracle Cloud SaaS saw tremendous advancements including broad and deep support for CX Commerce and CPQ, Fusion Applications, and Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI) and BIP. The out of the box support for Oracle SaaS applications and supporting business intelligence and reporting services remove the complexity of migrating code and configurations in a streamlined and automated way.
Integrations to many toolchain categories were delivered in the past year with notable focus areas:
- Secrets Management – While many customers leverage the FlexDeploy-native secrets management capabilities, we are seeing increased use of 3rd party tools such as CyberArk and Hashicorp Vault which have been popular with FlexDeploy customers for years. With recent strong demand for Thycotic and Azure Key Vault, we delivered integrations in 2021 seeing significant adoption by customers.
- Planning and Issue Tracking – We help to maximize your productivity by providing integrations to the popular tools GitLab, Azure DevOps Boards, and GitHub and enable users to spend time in the tools they prefer while establishing end to end visibility and traceability throughout the process and toolchain.
- Test Quality and Security Tools – Integrating these automated test processes from Tricentis Tosca and Checkmarx into Release Pipelines ensures consistently high quality and secure software delivery, mitigating the risk of change while speeding up delivery.
Value Stream Management
The benefits of VSM are enabled by the delivery platform capabilities of FlexDeploy. 2021 saw ongoing investments in the capture and storage of data in FlexDeploy’s common data model which set the stage for future enhancements in higher level metrics, analytics, and visualizations. As you will see in the plans for 2022 and beyond, the insights gained will help manage the short- and long-term value of your software development and delivery processes while taking advantage of both native capabilities within FlexDeploy and integration with other tools in the VSM space.
What’s Coming: 2022 and Beyond
We continue to help users achieve secure, repeatable, and auditable releases with speed and high-quality software development. We are building off the foundation delivered in 2021 for a modern UI/UX transformation, with advancements in 2022 which target core FlexDeploy constructs such as Projects, Packages, and Workflows. Planning and issue tracking, which has been delivered via integration with best of breed tools to date, will include native capabilities for those who prefer out of the box features within FlexDeploy. We will build upon our existing value stream analytics capabilities to provide significantly more insights to our customers in 2022. Toolchain integration will continue for the never-ending best of breed tools and integration with other DevOps platforms. Topping it off is our ongoing commitment to support for easing the challenges of Enterprise Platforms including Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP.
If you are already a FlexDeploy customer, you can feel confident that we will continue to help you optimize your DevOps journey. If you haven’t tried FlexDeploy yet, then it is time for you to learn more by checking out our latest release, FlexDeploy 5.7.