Over 50% of global enterprises will have implemented application release automation by 2020, up from less than 15% in 2017. The increasing adoption of application release automation, or ARA, is due to the benefits of automating application release, including improvements in efficiency, scalability, and operational control.
ARA is the automated packaging and deployment of an application or an update. Comprehensive ARA moves an application from development, through a series of test environments, and finally to production.
Challenges to application release automation implementation
ARA offers many benefits, but it can be difficult to implement, particularly if there are:
- Complex processes
- Service dependencies
- Poor collaboration
- Legacy components
Critical elements of application release automation
While ARA may sound straightforward, it does require the convergence of a number of different elements, each of which must be functioning correctly for ARA to work. To ensure that your ARA processes and tooling have the best chance for success, and to maximize the benefits of ARA, consider:
Deployment must be the same for each stage of the process, in every environment, including deployment into production. This ensures that any deployment issues are identified and fixed prior to launching the application to the production environment. A different process for deployment into production introduces unnecessary variables that can cause issues at the final step.
An application must be moved forward automatically, from one stage to the next. Each stage is critical, as each stakeholder is reviewing an application from a different perspective: developers want to ensure features and improvements, security checks for vulnerabilities, while QA reviews functionality. This helps to ensure no stage in the processes is accidentally skipped, and to provide an accurate audit trail.
Bundling applications for promotion and deployment is crucial for application release automation. This helps to determine what needs to be moved from one stage to the next; while also providing a means of checking whether all features and functions have made it from one stage to the next, and on to deployment.
So why is ARA important?
With all of the challenges involved in implementing application release automation, why would an enterprise bother? Because employing application release automation can have a considerable positive impact on an enterprise by providing operational benefits and potentially a competitive advantage!
1. Mature DevOps
Automating application release is fundamental to mature DevOps It’s a critical factor in an organization reaching a stage where continuous delivery is possible.
2. Improved efficiency.
ARA allows for streamlined processes with fewer manual tasks, improved efficiency and human effort channeled to higher-level strategic objectives.
3. Reduced timelines.
Automatic promotion of an application means it will move much more quickly from one stage to the next, reducing the overall time from development, to testing, to ultimately deploying into production.
When a process is standardized and automated, it is much easier to achieve growth and scalability. Variables and manual tasks limit growth, while standardized and automated processes are easily scaled to cover rapid growth.
With application release automation, key stakeholders across the enterprise gain visibility into the process. Data is available throughout each stage, to help identify issues and promote better decision-making.
Implemented correctly, ARA can have a significant, positive impact on an enterprise incorporating DevOps processes. After all, if the key to DevOps is creating an environment that supports high-velocity, incremental deployments, then ARA is a necessary tool for orchestrating that environment from end to end. With ARA, errors are reduced, processes are scalable, and transparency and control are improved, benefiting the entire DevOps cycle.
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