Release automation is a hot topic. This is pretty exciting to witness since I have worked in the industry for a long time and crafted quite a few deployment solutions by hand. However, there may be too much focus on release automation and not enough on release management holistically. Pushing bits to servers with a small amount of process management around it is where most release automation tools stop.
Process management, visualization and traceability are all critical, especially as the number of releases increases. A release management solution, of which release automation is one component, must also have a concept of what a release is. A release is more than just a collection of builds. It includes change requests, scheduling, approvals and many other things.
Trying to add the concept of a release on top of a release automation solution that has no concept of release or a simplistic version of release is a lot of work. Furthermore, having to roll your own frequently results in auditability, traceability and visualization capabilities becoming more unwieldy, losing some of the value that a solution provides.
Without the right checks and balances, release automation provides an extremely effective vehicle for potentially releasing the wrong thing to production efficiently. You can talk to me more about this at the upcoming Velocity Conference from June 18-20 in Santa Clara, CA. I’ll be in the Serena booth. Register for the event, if you haven’t already!