A World-Class Deployment Experience By Doing Less

Nov 19, 2021 by Carl Timm

One of the pleasures of having young kids is the built-in excuse to listen to Winnie-the-Pooh stories by A.A. Milne.  Milne is brilliant at writing from the perspective of children while including nuggets of wisdom for adults who follow along.  One consistent theme in his stories is the importance of slowing down and focusing on the really important things in life.

A definitively more grownup version of this advice is the idea you can do more by doing less. It’s one of those counterintuitive thoughts, like slowing down to go fast or eating a small meal before a big meal.  Turns out there is some science that supports how focusing more, enjoying frequent breaks and taking naps contribute to greater productivity. It’s really all about conserving limited resources and directing energy toward tasks that make the biggest impact.

This do-more-by-doing-less philosophy is definitely a thread in Armory’s Long Term Support (LTS) release story. For instance, our new LTS release cadence includes only two releases per year. It also provides one full year of support for each release, along with frequent patches for bug fixes and CVEs. This is a notable change from releasing six to seven times per year in lockstep with the OSS Spinnaker releases.

Our previous approach of releasing every 8 weeks was less than ideal because it kept our engineers in constant motion. This prevented the development team from doing important things that help create a healthy team, development process and output. For more background and details on the story behind this transformation, I highly recommend reading Marcia Knous’ post Building a Better Release.

Creating a world-class deployment experience

One of the main problems with the short release cycle is it diminished the deployment experience for our customers.  This was a major stressor for our engineers whose main goal is to create a world-class deployment experience for other software engineers. However, there wasn’t enough time in each cycle for end-to-end integration testing.  Similarly, there wasn’t time to work with design partners to ensure a robust deployment experience in production. Like salt in a wound, we found customers were not upgrading with each new release, which begged the obvious question of why we were continuing with this approach.

So we did more by doing less and optimized the LTS release process for a better customer experience. First, the biannual release schedule aligns with the natural upgrade cadence of our self-hosted customers.  Second, each LTS release involves integrated end-to-end testing for all the Armory proprietary and OSS Spinnaker features included in Armory Enterprise. Finally, each release is further tested in production through our LTS Early Access Program to validate real world stability.

In short, the Armory Enterprise LTS provides long-term infrastructure stability, simplifies the upgrade process, and bolsters confidence when deploying to production environments.

Long-term benefits available today

While the long-term benefit of our LTS release is appealing, the near-term value of our first LTS—available today!—is incredible. For instance, in today’s LTS release you’ll find: 

  • Support for the Armory Agent for Kubernetes.
  • Improved caching behavior and performance for AWS Lambda.
  • Improved resiliency and caching behavior for the Cloud Foundry provider. 
  • The Clouddriver service is also more resilient when starting, with a more graceful response when an account with permission errors gets added.

This short list of highlighted updates is just the beginning, check out the release notes for full details. 

If a stable deployment environment and a simple upgrade process sound appealing to you, we’d love to chat with you. Please reach out and let us know how we can help!

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