The “xChange-ing” of Release Management Tips at xChange13

While preparing for xChange13, Serena’s global user conference from September 16-18, I happened to check in with one of Serena’s key release management partners. When I spoke with Eric Kunkel of MMA, he told me his best release management tip and what he hopes to gain from xChange13 this year. Here is our conversation:

KP: So tell me, Eric, when did you attend your first xChange conference?
EK: It was two years ago in Las Vegas.

KP: But you’ve been working with Serena’s products long before that?
EK: Yes, that’s right. I’ve been working with Serena products as a Customer and Partner for over 7 years.

KP: Your company, MMA, specializes in release management; how did this get to be so important to IT these days?
EK: Having a predictable, repeatable, and standard process that the development and business units can rely on is essential. Without that, we can’t deliver the fixes, enhancements and new functionality to their consumers of our goods and services.

KP: You are a release management expert; what is the one best practice you’d like to see everyone adopt?
EK: Standardization! And it has to be from the lowest level of OS configuration and set-up all the way to how configuration files are handled for deployments. It has to pervade build management (the code/compile/test cycle), processes (like having an enterprise release schedule), even how we define and manage deployment windows (for both non-production and production environments alike).

KP: You’ve often told me that automation of releases is essential; what is the best way to do that?
EK: Automation will drive standardization. There’s a saying I heard, which I now use repeatedly: “people are nice and computers are honest.” What that means is … a person might just fix an issue to keep the project moving forward for the greater good. That one issue can turn into 20 issues known only by that engineer. Computers are binary: it either passes or fails. Computers highlight the failures so they can be resolved and everyone adheres to the standard.

KP: I like that. I think I am going to use that too! What do you want to learn more about on your trip to xChange13?
EK: There are two main areas I will be focusing on. I will be looking to see how the Serena Release Management products are evolving to support the needs of our clients. The other area of focus, the “xChange-ing” if you will, will be to talk to the other attendees to try and understand the current pain points of our customers. I really want to learn if there are new pain points emerging, besides the big three of visibility, traceability, and automation.

KP: This has been great, Eric. Thanks a lot. See you in Miami!
EK: Take care, Kevin. Try and improve those jokes this year.

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