Why You Should Automate Your Release Pipeline

Release Day used to mean weekends spent deploying the latest code, database changes, and website content. Release teams would huddle together in war rooms troubleshooting issues, deploying hotfixes, coordinating deployments, testing, fixing, and redeploying again and again. As the trend in development shifts toward more agile delivery and customers clamor for continuous deployment, this model of monolithic code releases begins to strain. Automating your release pipeline can cut down on your release cycle time and alleviate many of the Release Day issues that arise from still trying to manually deploy code. So how does Release Automation benefit a software shop?

Repetitive Steps Are Tedious & Error-Prone

Manually deploying any sort of content, whether it be code, infrastructure changes, database scripts, or simple website content changes, can become tedious to perform repeatedly. This is a recipe for boredom and can lead to mistakes during deployment. These mistakes may even go undetected until users have started using the newly deployed changes. Automating these steps gives you consistent, repeatable steps that help minimize your chance of a broken deployment.

Reclaim Time Spent Manually Deploying

Automating your release process doesn’t just alleviate boredom, it gives team members more time to spend on other activities that add value to your company. Time someone is spending pushing code out to websites and running tests is time they could instead be spending designing new features, fixing bugs, or weekends spent with families. Automating your release can reduce costs and make your employees happier.

Improve Quality and Make Your Customers Happy

As mentioned previously, automating your release pipeline can reduce the number of issues caused by human mistakes. This results in higher quality deployments with less chance for error. Even with deployment steps completely automated though, time must still be spent making sure the most perfectly deployed code actually works. Any release automation effort will include automated testing before and after deployment. Automating tests help you detect critical path failures before your code lands in Production and makes your customers angry. Automating tests also further reduces the amount of time other team members are spending manually verifying that deployments were successful rather than adding additional value to the company.

Turn on a Dime

As your release pipeline becomes more streamlined, it becomes easier to adapt to changing business needs. If a new feature isn’t well received after customers begin to use it, improvements can be quickly deployed and tested for improvement. If a critical bug is found in newly released code, a well-architected release pipeline can quickly deploy previous builds that are in a known good state and get your customers back online while your team works to resolve the issue. Release Management systems allow you to easily see what’s deployed where and to promote or abandon new builds with just a few click.

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About Author

Mikey Cooper

Mikey is a Software Architect at Nebbia Technology with over 18 years of experience with Microsoft development and server technologies. He has worked with the .NET Framework stack and TFS/VSTS DevOps and Agile practices for the past 12 years and has a particular soft spot for obscure database technologies.