The transition to DevOps doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for companies to adopt DevOps practices throughout their organization and integrate new tools. DevOps tools like release management need to work with your current systems, fitting into your IT ecosystem to improve processes and business outcomes.
DevOps release management tools can be both incredibly beneficial and difficult to incorporate because they impact multiple stages of the software delivery lifecycle. Release management tools help teams plan and manage the handover of code, changes, and customizations from the application team through packaging and deployment across testing environments on the operations side, all the way through risk analysis, impact assessment and successful deployment to production environments.
Release management tools are often included as part of a DevOps toolset that IT teams and business users can use as a foundation for a larger development ecosystem. They include application release automation capabilities that help with governance and controls such as approvals, scheduling, and automated testing. Dashboards and reports help improve planning and execution across pipelines.
When incorporated into IT processes properly, DevOps release management tools can reduce stress and inefficiencies by creating repeatable, automated processes that result in high-quality, scheduled releases.
To help your team successfully incorporate release management tools into current processes, we’ve laid out a basic roadmap for adopting new DevOps release tools.
Your Roadmap to Adopting Release Management Tools
Identify Current Release and Pipeline Challenges
Release management tools should help resolve pain points in your current processes. Before incorporating new tools, evaluate how you’re currently handling releases and managing your traditional and CD pipelines. What challenges are you facing? Where do most of the errors and problems occur? These are the areas you should focus on when incorporating new tools, using their functionality to resolve known issues.
Map Out Manual, Repeatable Processes
A key benefit of DevOps release management tools is the ability to automate repeatable processes and reduce manual tasks. To get a better idea of your opportunities in this area, map out the repeatable processes and manual steps that are taking up your team’s time. Look for areas of improvement as described above, so each one can be automated and team members can use their time for more productive, high-value tasks.
Automate Across the Lifecycle and Schedule Releases
Once you have a clear view of the repeatable processes your team is dealing with, start taking advantage of DevOps automation tools. Automate processes where possible, then schedule releases. Automating repeatable processes helps ensure consistency of artifacts and source code across environments, reduces errors, and improves code quality. Scheduling releases alleviates the burden of after-hours work on your team and makes it easier to release changes after business hours to reduce disruption.
At this stage, both IT teams and their business counterparts will start to see benefits from your new tools, which will help you gain buy-in and more active participation.
Standardize Controls and Approvals
Governance over the release management process is critical. Most enterprises introduce release management process that require approvals before changes are deployed to higher test environments or a production environment. But orchestrating those approvals and setting appropriate controls is a key challenge with traditional release processes. It’s easy for a governance measure to be skipped or escape recording, making it difficult to gain visibility into your pipeline and how well processes are being followed.
DevOps release management tools improve the governance process by requiring and recording approvals before each release is completed. Changes and approvals are managed and tracked before any changes are allowed into production and other environments to ensure both consistency and quality without adding workload to your staff. The result is greater control over changes and better visibility into who is making adjustments, when, and in what environments.
Release Management is Crucial to DevOps and Continuous Delivery
Release management has traditionally been an underrated part of the software development lifecycle. But as continuous delivery makes releases more frequent and DevOps brings disconnected stages of the lifecycle together, release management is becoming more crucial.
The best DevOps tools include release management, particularly application release automation, to bring more emphasis to release management and improve its processes. It’s your job to effectively evaluate DevOps release management tools and incorporate them into your internal processes.
Start with a baseline of your processes and opportunities, then begin taking advantage of your new tool’s functionality so both your IT team and your business counterparts see the biggest benefits in the least amount of time.