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The Benefits of Fail-Safe Application Deployments

(A guest post by Dan Gordon of Electric Cloud)

Enterprises are building, testing, and deploying software faster and more frequently now than at any point in the past. Faced with unprecedented demands, many of these software development organizations are realizing their rollout processes are haphazard, at best. These improvised procedures lead directly to heightened numbers of costly, time-consuming errors that degrade their business agility. Production deployments remain the last mile hurdle in the agile world due to the disconnect between the Dev and Ops teams.

Fortunately, there is a well-regarded, proven collection of best practices and supporting technologies that can go a long way towards making the software deployment process more streamlined, safer and more robust. These fail-safe software deployment techniques deliver an impressive array of business and technological advantages.

  • Design for manufacturability – Transform your software design and implementation procedures into a more mechanized, repeatable series of steps. This help make test results from earlier phases in the delivery cycle relevant for later stages, and lets you perform consistent test in many scenarios over time.
  • Leverage the power of automaton for your software delivery process – Eliminate the unrefined, often manual deployment processes that plaque so many software development organizations. Comprehensive automation technology can have a meaningful impact on productivity and accuracy, just as it has for many other sophisticated businesses practices.
  • Design with failure in mind – The bottom line is failures will occur despite your best efforts, so prepare for inevitable breakdowns. Determine what is an acceptable failure, and by acceptable, we mean a failure that doesn’t need to halt the entire deployment process. Define success and failure thresholds by tier, and allow for partial deployments to complete successfully.
  • Test early and test often – Build a consistent deployment model and test it throughout the entire software deployment lifecycle. Your software deployment platform should reside at the heart of your testing efforts. Taking this approach uncovers any issues well before a crisis develops and lets you evolve the process so your production deployments are smooth and fail-safe.
  • Zero in on defects efficiently – Identifying and correction defects tends to be laborious and inadequate, but fortunately, specialized automation solutions are great for isolating and resolving these problems. This makes troubleshooting complex deployments much more efficient, and results in faster time-to-market.

These techniques can make your software deployment experience faster, smoother and more reliable. By transforming complex software delivery processes into fail-safe production deployments, you will benefit from increased DevOps collaboration, reduced cost and a higher quality of delivered software.

Dan Gordon is a Product Manager at Electric Cloud. Dan brings over 20 years of experience in the IT software industry. At Electric Cloud, Dan is responsible for product strategy, product marketing, tactical alignment and execution with product development, sales and pre-sales enablement and support. Previously, Dan was a product manager and systems architect for the enterprise IT automation software business within HP Software. Dan has also held managing and systems engineering roles at Opsware and Sun Microsystems. Dan holds a bachelor of science in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine. 

News, 17 July 2013

Happy summer, Northern Hemisphere dwellers.  There’s a break in the rain at Build Doctor South HQ, have some news:

  • IBM acquired UrbanCode.  I guess Build Forge wasn’t addressing the DevOps market the way UrbanCode had.  Top marks to Maciej, Eric, and the guys for a) building multi-stage CI in 2006, and b) pivoting and responding to DevOps.  One consequence of the deal is, they are no longer blog sponsor for The Build Doctor.  Thanks for your support over the years, guys! [Link]
  • Team City 8 is out, and it’s more affordable.  It looks like they focussed on making it a load more usable and faster.  [Link]
  • Sonatype just launched Nexus Pro CLM edition, which allows you to set per-environment policies for artifact promotion.  They are still banging the security drum.  It makes me wonder about the viability of an attack via the M2 repository.  In other news, would you like to use my new meta logging library that delegates to every other logger in the world? It doesn’t phone home, honest. [Link]
  • Electric Deploy now integrates with PTC Integrity.  I have to admit that I’d never heard of the latter tool. [Link]
  • Atlassian have release Bamboo 5, with better support for Release Candiates, deploy jobs,  and features (authorization and communication) about those.  Looks useful.  I’m going to investigate further.  [Link]
  • Speaking of Bamboo, there’s a security advisory, get your upgrades in. [Link]
  • Sauce Labs have announced multi user accounts, and a round of funding – congratulations!  [Link]
  • CloudBees have a new LTS release of Jenkins, with an emphasis on availablity, including the ability to restart aborted builds [Link]

Conference appearances, 2013

My blogging break has been so long, I feel like a vampire emerging from the grave in a Hammer Horror film.

I’m interrupting my relentless working day to announce that I’ll be at:

Back to flogging Ruby code.

Update: for various reasons, both the struck out appearances are cancelled.  Back to flogging ruby code.  (I do actually use flog).

News, December 19

I’m hearing a new noise from my office: birdsong and sheep.  Makes a change from suburban Woking.  The Build Doctor Inc. has moved it’s HQ from the UK to a more beneficial tax regime: New Zealand.

  • Bamboo 4.5 lets you rewrite history by re-running old builds and targetting new revisions [link].
  • ThoughtWorks Studios now target OpenJDK for Go, and now target the JRE at runtime, to make installation easier [link]
  • I’m hoping to attend CITCON Sydney in February, to mark my new status as a resident of Oceania (no, not that one) [link]
  • Parasoft and Electric Cloud have joined forces [link]

Neo Zealand

When I wrote my post about moving to Neo Technology, you may have wondered why I stopped consulting and took a job.  The reason was simple: I’m not a republican, I just want my children to know their grandparents. I knew I was moving to New Zealand, and I’ll be working for Neo when I get there.  So it’s goodbye London.

I’m around London until early December, and I’d love to meet you for a pint.


News, September 25

Powered by Jet Lag

  • Bamboo 4.2 allows you to change build behaviour depending on the branch that it’s building.  It also does automatic branch discovery for all you Subversion peeps. [link]
  • You should update anyway, as there’s another security advisory [link]
  • I like that AppFirst’s Dashboard seems to have business metrics [link]
  • Nexus Pro 2.1 is out with better staging for Ant and Maven users
  • Urbancode (sponsor danger) have a blog post on confuguration-only deployments as a way to reduce outage windows.  Good idea, though I’m still waiting to see something like PropIdle take off [link]

Vendor News, July^H^H^H^H September 5

I just found this in my drafts.  Bum.

  • James Turnbull’s online puppet linter (surely a tribute to
  • I love what heroku just did by acknowledging the true beauty of bourne based shells: link
  • UrbanCode [sponsor danger] made thier own, better version of skewer: link

Moving house

This blog now lives in New Jersey, hosted at WPEngine.  I’ve also moved the static hosting to Amazon S3.

Soon I should manage to shut down some of the numerous VPS systems that I seem to have accumulated.  I’m thinking about Heroku for hosting some of my other projects.  Even thinking about Amazon Route 53 for DNS.

News, 12 August

  • You can vote for JetBrains to add support for Puppet in Rubymine.  It’s the best Ruby development environment I’ve ever used, and I’d be able to use one tool for all my code if they just supported Puppet. [link]
  • Maurizio Pillitu  is working on an approach to bring in Maven functionality via composition, rather than inheritance. [link]
  • UrbanCode [sponsor danger] are doing a webinar on how to cope with IIS deployments [link]
  • Puppet Labs are launching a certification programme [link]
  • I can’t make DevOpsDays Europe 2012, but it’s in October [link]
  • I will be  at CitCon Europe … [link]
  • … but not North America [link]
  • UrbanCode [sponsor danger] have released a tool called Terraform to build environments (with Puppet, or Chef) in AWS or VMWare [link]
  •  Electric Cloud added deployment capabilities to Electric Commander, with Electric Deploy [link]
  • The guys at Klikap got in touch to talk about their outsourced CI product, Clinker [link]


Vendor news, 12 March

  • ThoughtWorks recently released Go 12.1. It’s not version inflation, they’e adopted the Perforce model of doing regular releases in the year. The biggest feature: TFS support. Hello Steve! [link]
  • The Prags just released ‘Deploying with JRuby’, which looks fascinating. [link]
  • UrbanCode [warning: sponsor danger] are doing a webinar on March 22: ‘Using AntHillPro with uDeploy’ – their play on the pipeline [link]
  • Amazon have released an m1.medium instance type, that is available in 32 and 64-bit flavours. Perfect for CI nodes.
  • Do double check your GitHub SSH keys [link]