In the previous blogs in this series, we covered the basic understanding of ERM, how it gets integrated with other ITIL processes in an organization, and how DevOps helps achieve a better ERM.
In the final blog of this series, we will see how release orchestration helps automate a multitude of ERM tasks.
What is Release Orchestration?
With the increasing demand for faster and more frequent releases, organizations have to look at automating as many tasks as possible. These tasks span across a wide range of applications, technologies, environments, and tooling, making the coordination an overwhelming one. While there’s a need for the right autonomy for the teams to go for production independently, it is still far from the real world for many organizations.
Release orchestration practice aims at orchestrating these various manual and automated tasks carried out by different teams to finally release the software to the end user, thus realizing the benefits of DevOps. Release orchestration improves planning, provides real-time feedback, cuts down the wait times, makes the process consistent and reliable, achieves standardization, and helps achieve desired compliance. Release orchestration also brings in much-needed visibility into release progression without having to follow up manually with different teams.
What constitutes a Release Orchestration?
Release orchestration in its most ideal implementation will yield complete “one-click-push” pipelines that will handle interactions across DevOps CICD pipelines, Release Management tool, CMDB, Change Control, Ticketing system, etc. When designing or building a release orchestration, one would have to coordinate across, but not limited to the following:
- Release window in calendar
- Environment management
- Packaging the required resources
- Managing dependencies
- Readiness of DevOps CICD pipeline
- Handling deployments and rollbacks
- Handling of manual steps including approvals
- Dealing with concurrent releases
- Collection of quality results
- Audit and Compliance asks
- Visibility into the release lifecycle
How to achieve release orchestration
For a release orchestration, it is important to understand how your value streams shape up. Identifying the release process for the value stream is the first step toward orchestration. Teams would then lay out the release flow and define steps for release. It is also important to identify release patterns across organizations for any standardization to be made possible. Finally, all these need to follow a release schedule or plan for various teams to align to.
Release orchestration tools help organizations achieve all of these activities in an automated fashion and at scale. Some of the typical features of the release orchestration tools are:
- Streamline the release processes by creating automated, consistent, and repeatable tasks across different teams and applications.
- Integrate with various other enterprise tools like DevOps tools, reporting tools, testing tools, etc. to get the execution status.
- Orchestrate deployments, leveraging parallel or serial releases.
- Facilitate writing custom scripts, and configure tasks to take manual inputs like say feedback or approval.
- Provide an in-built template for performing various release activities.
- Provide single-pane visibility into stages, tasks, and execution status.
- Dashboard to monitor various metrics across the board.
- Provide detailed logs that can be used for troubleshooting or even compliance checks.
Benefits of release orchestration
Release orchestration thus helps build confidence, reliability, and repeatability into an organization’s release across cycles. The following are some explicit benefits from automation of the release orchestration:
- Automates tedious manual tasks carried out by release managers, and frees up their bandwidth, which can be channelized for better execution of releases.
- Eliminates wait times across handovers, resulting in faster time-to-market.
- Right quality and security controls at various stages.
- Helps achieve compliance through well-defined policies.
- Continuous feedback at various stages for an early arrest and better predictability.
- Well-controlled and automated deployment and rollback procedures.
- Improved collaboration.
- Improved visibility into the release process and stages for various personas.
- Improved savings.
Release management has always been a critical and difficult competence for organizations to attain. As organizations move to DevOps and aspire for faster releases, release orchestration helps achieve the real benefits of DevOps. It helps streamline the planning and tracking of releases as per organization demands and brings the right visibility into the release process across various teams. The continuous feedback from release orchestration can help improve and mature the release practices. Further, analytics on past releases can help predict outcomes, thereby giving organizations greater insight into ERM. Efficiency gains through release orchestration can fuel further innovation for organizations.