LaunchDarkly boosts deployment frequency by
1475% and DevOps capacity by 250% with
Armory Continuous Deployment and AWS

Built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), LaunchDarkly pioneered the feature management category to enable companies like Square, IBM, and NBC to deploy code faster with less risk. Initially, LaunchDarkly relied on a homegrown manual continuous delivery (CD) process. As the development team grew, however, their homegrown system began to break down. Concerned about the impact on engineers and customers, LaunchDarkly turned to AWS Partner Armory and Armory Continuous Deployment, with open-source CD platform Spinnaker at its core. Since moving to Armory, LaunchDarkly has increased its deployment frequency by 1475% and its DevOps capacity by 250%, leading to happier engineers, more satisfied customers, and new expansion opportunities.

LaunchDarkly’s Results

+1475%

daily deployments

+250%

DevOps capacity

Flagging the need for a better CD process

LaunchDarkly, the leading feature management platform, empowers development teams to safely deliver and control software using feature flags. By adding feature flags to their code, developers can gradually release new software features to defined user segments and get immediate feedback as to whether those features are working properly. Features that aren’t working can be disabled in seconds with the switch of a toggle, eliminating the need to redeploy.

Initially, LaunchDarkly’s CI/CD process featured a homegrown mix of automated CI and manual CD using Ansible deploy scripts running on laptops. This approach worked well enough with four developers. However, by the time the team grew to 10, cracks in the process began to show. “It got to the point where deployments were a major issue for us,” recalled Maleko Taylor, senior DevOps engineer at LaunchDarkly. “Because we were running on laptops, we had to first make sure they were configured properly, with correct versions of Python and Ansible and fresh AWS credentials. Then we needed a stable network connection and enough battery charge to last the length of the deployment. And because the process was manual, we needed a developer there to physically click through all the checks and prompts.”

It got to the point where deployments were a major issue for us… we realized there was no way we’d be able to double or triple our head count like we’d planned with our current
process.

While this process clearly affected developer velocity and throughput, it had several additional consequences, all of which hampered LaunchDarkly’s ability to grow. Developers lacked confidence in the process and were sometimes afraid to deploy at all. Occasional downtime led to challenges and frustrations for otherwise satisfied customers. And, although LaunchDarkly was built on AWS, it was unable to take advantage of many of the cloud services available. “We realized there was no way we’d be able to double or triple our head count like we’d planned with our current process,” said Taylor.

Finding a single path from production to deployment target

As LaunchDarkly began to look for solutions, the team was drawn to Spinnaker, an open-source continuous delivery software platform originally developed by Netflix. As part of their search, they discovered AWS Partner Armory, the industry-leading provider of enterprise-grade Spinnaker on AWS.

Spinnaker creates a single path from production to the deployment target using a pipeline that can be reused and iterated on as needs change. Armory Continuous Deployment expands Spinnaker by adding capabilities like Pipelines-as-Code, which allows the definition of pipelines with a GitOps approach. Software developers can pick from a menu of git managed pipelines, which reduces errors and speeds productivity.

Using pipelines-as-code to make deployment magic

Once the pipeline was complete, it was like magic… We could deploy new versions whenever we wanted, and it all worked great.

Following a successful proof of concept, Armory worked with LaunchDarkly to install and deploy Armory Continuous Deployment on AWS, which included setting up a new Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) cluster. Once Armory Continuous Deployment was running, the team set up the first pipeline and deployed it to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2).

“Once the pipeline was complete, it was like magic,” said Taylor. “We saw the deployment happen: it found the artifact, deployed it to Amazon EC2, and we could see it running. We could deploy new versions whenever we wanted, and it all worked great.”

As part of the Armory Continuous Deployment setup process, LaunchDarkly picked up a number of AWS services it hadn’t been using before, including Application Load Balancer, Network Load Balancer, and AWS Auto Scaling. In addition, LaunchDarkly now has access to a range of deployment strategies, including blue/green analysis, which reduces downtime and risk by running two versions of an application in parallel. Although they rarely happen, rollbacks are reliable, fast, and easy.

“Working with Armory has been amazing,” Taylor added. “From day one, they’ve been very responsive and supportive.”

“We spend significantly less time managing Armory than we did the old system. We’re much more efficient and effective now.”

Maleko Taylor, Snr. DevOps Engineer, LaunchDarkly

Boosting deployment frequency and DevOps capacity by powers of 10

Since moving its CD process to Armory Continuous Deployment, LaunchDarkly’s deployment frequency has jumped from 4 times per day to 59 times per day (as of June 2022), an increase of 1475%. Just as impressively, DevOps capacity has increased by 250%. Before Armory, LaunchDarkly had 2 DevOps engineers supporting 8 developers; today, 7 DevOps engineers support 100 developers. “We spend significantly less time managing Armory than we did the old system,” said Taylor. “We’re much more efficient and effective now.”

The response to moving to Armory has been overwhelmingly positive.

LaunchDarkly has also realized benefits that go beyond the numbers, including happier and more confident developers. “Developers know they can depend on the system. They trust that their hard work will pay off with releases that land in the customer’s hands as they were meant to,” explained Taylor. “The response to moving to Armory has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Making the most of platforms and partnerships

If you’re looking to greatly improve your DORA metrics and want a partner to help you achieve those goals, you want to work with Armory & AWS.

With a fully automated CI/CD process, LaunchDarkly can now focus on deploying new applications and features that customers value. The company has also expanded into new regions, including Europe and Asia. “We now have a framework we can apply to quickly deploy new features and services and serve new geographies,” Taylor said.

LaunchDarkly and Armory have developed a strong relationship and see the potential to work together to address issues along the entire software customization life cycle. Added Taylor, “We also have a very good relationship with AWS, and we want to explore and implement all the cool features Armory has available.”

“If you’re looking to greatly improve your DORA metrics and want a partner to help you achieve those goals, you want to work with Armory and AWS,” Taylor concluded. “We’re sticking with them for the foreseeable future.”

About LaunchDarkly

LaunchDarkly, the leading feature management platform, fundamentally changes how companies deliver software by enabling them to innovate faster, reduce risk, and bridge the divide between developers and the business.

Commit. Deploy. Repeat.

Focus on writing great code, not deploying it!