Long-term Support (LTS) Releases

May 9, 2022 by Marcia Knous, Adam Frank

Deciding how frequently to release a product is an interesting challenge faced by many companies. There are definite pros and cons related to adjusting your release cadence that have to be evaluated on an individual basis. Faster release cycles in theory might sound good, but of course, there can be tradeoffs. Looking at historical release data can often be valuable in deciding the best course of action.

Evaluating release cadence is a helpful exercise and should be undertaken periodically as customers change and as the DevOps environment continues to evolve. Careful evaluation of branch support as well as thinking about the future is important!

Armory Enterprise Release History

Armory previously aligned the Armory Enterprise release process with open source Spinnaker releases. This meant Armory often released Armory’s version of Spinnaker, including all the proprietary features and functions — Armory Enterprise — six to seven times per year. One disadvantage of following this cadence is Armory had to wait to begin the process of testing until all the commits from open source were in. Unfortunately, the side effect of this was that there were sometimes more surprises at release time due to the number of commits that had gone into the release.

The Spinnaker project sees Pull Requests (PRs), which include new features and fixes, every single day due to the benefit of community contributions from the strong open-source community. Taking advantage of the improvements requires specialized deep knowledge to validate new releases. Every single change also has the potential to cause security and or stability issues, not to mention unpredictability. Unpredictable and overloaded upgrades can cause downtime and outages that impact your business.

Problems LTS solves

Why is Spinnaker Stability so Important?

Armory Enterprise combines a subset of Spinnaker features with proprietary Armory features to ensure customers have the foundational functionality necessary to create safe, dependable and repeatable deployments. Armory Enterprise is mission-critical infrastructure for continuous deployment and is required to ensure software delivery stability. To ensure maximum security and stability, Armory employs a number of testing methodologies and security scans.

Unit Testing

Unit tests are run with each PR as part of the robust Continuous Integration (CI) process. Between open source and Armory, thousands of unit tests are run with each release.

Integration Testing

As part of the CI process, integration tests are also run in order to test service to service contracts. This testing is great for finding service communication and compatibility issues.

End-to-End Testing

Once both unit and integration tests pass and a new image is created for use, end-to-end tests are run. End-to-end testing helps verify workflows and complex, real-world interactions.

CVE Remediation

CVE reports are automatically generated as part of the automated security scanning during the testing and release process. CVE’s are calculated and scored based on temporal and environmental aspects and then of course remediated.

Armory Certified Releases

The Birth of the Long-term Support (LTS) Release

In late 2021 Armory began the process of re-evaluating the release cadence and strategy. As a result, the Armory Enterprise Long-term Support Release (LTS) was born.

Take advantage of new innovations with confidence, ease, stability, and predictability. Armory uses an open-source Spinnaker branch; never forked, to ensure all new community contributed changes are included in a pending release, plus all the goodness Armory creates and contributes. Artifacts are built and new packages are made available for rigorous unit and integration testing. Once the tests have all passed an image is created for extensive security scanning and end-to-end testing, then a release candidate tag is pushed to update each image. This process is repeated until all bugs and vulnerabilities have been addressed. The end result is a fully baked, stable, and publicly available release, along with a CVE report and release notes that you can be confident in. Take advantage of the latest innovations from the open-source community, and rest easy knowing that you are upgrading to a certified, stable, and secure release.LTS Flow Diagram

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