By now, anyone with a pulse in the software industry has read that mature DevOps organizations collaborate early, often and deeply on security thanks to this year’s Puppet State of DevOps Report (2019). It’s refreshing to see traditional “afterthoughts” like security being put in the spotlight as indicators of DevOps maturity. However, the “collaborate and automate” practices the report espouses can equally be applied to another DevOps maturity journey “afterthought” – one that unlike security does directly impact business value. Although release management is often optimized for in the final stages of maturity, organizations that manage their release process by “collaborating and automating” earlier in their lifecycle can leapfrog stages in their DevOps journey and start reaping the benefits of faster time to value.

Release process is natural place where business meets tech in software delivery

Whereas this year's Puppet report indicates that security integration isn't all "sunshine and rainbows", there is one part of the software delivery process that CAN be "sunshine and rainbows" – at least in the sense that it can pay dividends when it comes to making IT a business driver (rather than its traditional role as suspiciously-eyed cost center). When release management is integrated early in the software delivery process, it can have a significant impact on increasing DevOps ROI since the release process in any SDLC is by definition the place where business demands meet tech objectives.

Giving all stakeholder early say in release directly impacts business value

Traditionally, the release process has been the place where Dev, Ops, QA and Business came together to test and agree on code quality in a series of checks and balances. With the move to the DevOps “you build it, you run it” way of working, some of those checks and balances have been optimized away as CI/CD journeys focus on developer-led testing and ops work (which ends in deployment). A mature release management process re-injects those checks and balances by giving all stakeholders - Dev, Ops, SRE, Product Owners and Business Analysts – an up-front and equal say in release decisions. Both technical and business objectives are agreed on, codified and automated in release policies before any code even hits the road.

“Collaborating and automating” on release policies fulfills the promise of DevOps

Codifying tech and business stakeholder objectives into automated release policies drives organizations to by-pass pre-production in CD and ship directly to users. Codified release automation provides a safety net to safely test in production – the only way that works for cloud. Setting release objectives allows everyone in the process to validate new features with real users early in the feature delivery cycle. That makes release policies the point at which tech and business goals converge in the SDLC to ensure that feature release not just works in terms of tech, but also works for the business. It’s this “collaborate and automate” approach to release management that creates a continuous releasing cycle, and in the true promise of DevOps, ultimately speeds up software delivery from idea to value.