Ashley Owen Archive

Serena customer QBE FIRST is part of one of the 25 largest insurance companies in the world.  Their IT organization has been focusing on process and metrics to get the insight and visibility they need to efficiently run a distributed development organization.

Join in on a special customer webcast on Thursday, November 3 as QBE FIRST discusses the 5 key development metrics they use to effectively manage a complex distributed team of developers, QA professionals, business analysts and operations personnel. QBE FIRST will go through:

  • Challenges the company faces as part of a regulated industry
  • Key development processes and metrics, and
  • Best practices for their distributed teams

As a bonus, Greg Harder of Serena R&D will show how the new Serena Lifecycle Dashboard provides IT organizations rapid insight into their end-to-end application delivery metrics and tools. See how you can use new dashboards to capture the key metrics you need – no matter what tools you use – and streamline development processes across all your distributed teams and tools.

Register for the webcast: Top 5 Development Metrics You Can’t Ignore on Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 8:00 am Pacific / 11:00 am Eastern/ 4:00 pm UK / 5:00 pm CET.

roadblockMany IT executives that I’ve spoken to have found great success with their agile development teams. Greater efficiency. Happier users. Faster cycle times. However, when they look beyond their agile teams, key roadblocks keep popping up. Bottlenecks with getting so many more sprints into production. Hybrid water-scrum-fall projects. Staying compliant with ever increasing regulations and standards. Disparate tools and distributed teams. Multiple environments and platforms. The list goes on and on, especially for enterprise IT organizations.

When it comes to agile in enterprise IT, the tension of speed versus control can seem impossible to resolve. However, some IT organizations have taken a process-based view to make the entire application delivery process more agile. They evaluate the process touch points between stakeholders across the entire lifecycle – from initial request to final release into production – to become truly agile. Orchestrating agility has helped IT organizations realize dramatic results, including 40% faster development, 50% lower costs, and 15X more releases.

How do they do it? Here are 4 steps to deliver agility across the entire IT organization, and not just within development.

  1. Orchestrate Development to Deployment: IT organizations must not only coordinate development, operations and business – they need to automate this collaboration.
  2. Develop with Agility: Development needs to more tightly integrate multiple disciplines and practices, multi-tier application development and global development teams, while taking advantage of virtualization and cloud computing.
  3. Orchestrate Dev and Ops: Development needs to work more closely with Operations to meet the increasing velocity and volume of releases, while maintaining a closed-loop process with Service management to minimize the impact on data centers.
  4. Orchestrate visibility and insight: IT is run as a business. So, IT organizations need unified visibility and insight from demand through development to release and ongoing service and maintenance.

To get more detail about these 4 steps and learn more about orchestrating agility across the entire application delivery lifecycle in your organization, attend my presentation at the ALM Expo, a virtual conference from November 9-10. Register – it’s free!


Today Serena announced that Ultimate Software, a leading provider of human capital cloud management solutions for global business, selected Serena Release Automation, powered by Nolio, as its application deployment solution for Development. 

Ultimate Software has thousands of servers and multiple deployments running daily from pre-production to production. At such a fast pace and high volume of application changes, it’s absolutely critical that they employ a streamlined process-approach to release automation. 

Previously, Ultimate Software was using Symantec Altiris but decided to evaluate other deployment solutions in search of one that could manage their complex applications, improve operational efficiencies and streamline the deployment process. Serena’s Release Automation solution addressed these criteria and is expected to reduce their application release deployment times and significantly decrease operational costs.

The tech company’s Director of Infrastructure and Deployment Strategy, Brian Goldberg, told us: “Following months of meticulous research, we identified Serena as the best application deployment solution on the market. We realized that existing infrastructure automation solutions, such as Altiris, can do a good job when you need to provision new servers, but when it comes to application releases and deployments, it’s a different story. We look forward to leveraging Serena’s Release Automation solution as our unified deployment solution and ensuring the highest level of security and reliability.”

Learn more about Serena Release Automation, powered by Nolio, which is a component of Serena’s end-to-end Release Management solution.

The human psyche is overtaking the bells and whistles of technology – finally!  IT leaders are shifting away from the focus of technology to an emphasis on business demands and user expectations.  Think about it.  Your IT organization probably receives a barrage of different requests that are either application development- or operations-related.  The gap between Dev and Ops makes fulfillment and deployment challenging enough, let alone executing either at a speed that keeps your organization competitive.

Well, the “Dev and Ops Divide” has just narrowed with the release of two breakthrough solutions: Serena Service Manager and Serena Release Manager.

Serena Service Manager provides an easily configurable and flexible process-based approach to delivering IT services, along with a unified service portal, and integrated service management dashboards.  The business user interface, Serena Request Center, gives end users one convenient view of all the services available to them and offers IT one funnel for routing requests.

Serena Release Manager dramatically speeds application delivery and introduces a new visual enterprise release calendar for both application development and IT operations.  Both solutions are fully integrated and build upon Serena’s Orchestrated Application Delivery product strategy, which emphasizes process and automation. 

Dev and Ops Divide.  What Dev and Ops divide?

Get more information about our new ITSM and ALM solutions.  On this page, you’ll find links to 2-minute demos, the full press release and an invitation to attend a webcast series on best practices for IT operations.

And for even more, tune into Serena’s YouTube channel.  Watch Serena experts demonstrating Serena Release Manager and Serena Service Manager.  Ben Cody, VP of Service Management Solutions, shares in detail the exciting features in Serena Service Manager.  Plus, you’ll see a video of me explaining why Orchestrated Application Delivery and Release Management are resonating so well with our customers.

Release Management bottleneckAs Agile development becomes more the norm, release management has become more of a major bottleneck, delaying key application deployments at a time when businesses rely on software for competitive advantage and innovation. Now more than ever, an increasing emphasis is put on software release and provisioning strategies and automation to help optimize business agility and cost-effective software deployments. 

IDC has identified the drivers for enabling business agility with release management improvements, including the following requirements: 

  • A consistent repository as a single source of truth to help application deployments and to retain essential governance across software releases.
  • Managing the release process with notifications and visibility into audit from requirements to deployment.
  • Appropriate workflow and transition from development to deployment to manage a challenging handoff. 

The cost of a poorly coordinated release varies within each company but the impact is the same.  I know of one company that was unsure about which changes needed to go into release and what was being fixed specifically by the software update. When rollbacks needed to occur due to problems with the software release, they were time-consuming and challenging. Release problems occurred as frequently as two to three times per month.

Without automation, the manual process of reconciliation compounded the challenges. The company didn’t have tight control over the release process prior to bringing in automation — releases occurred in an ad hoc fashion, and the chance for things to go wrong was much higher as a result. Manual processes don’t enable confidence. As a result, I have heard on more than one occasion the cry of “Fix It Now!” from executive management fed up with the negative impact to their business. 

The requirement to contain long-term high costs in a volatile economy also remains problematic and can constrain business competitiveness and stifle growth and innovations when not proactively addressed and governed.  To drive release agility in your organization and learn three tips for improving release management strategies, read the paper Automate to Thrive: Driving Business Agility with Effective Release Management.

At our Customer Day in the UK I was approached by a number of people expressing a desire for an alternative to the “rip & replace” ALM generation. Like many organizations, they have existing investments in various application development and lifecycle tools, and have been struggling to get them all to work together for quite some time.

For much of them, the driver is not simply the replacement of one tool with another, but the increasing need to accommodate modern development practices, to more efficiently leverage globally distributed teams, and to simplify complex processes and technologies across the application development lifecycle, while leveraging some of their existing investments.

Then last week at a Customer Advisory Board meeting I heard, on multiple occasions, an organization’s desire to seek an alternative practitioner tool – requirements management or quality assurance tool, while maintaining an orchestrated product development process that enables rather than penalizes an evolution of individual practitioner tools.

And in terms of visibility, customers are seeing the value in an orchestrated ALM dashboard that can capture data from one or more practitioner tools, displaying both data and process KPI metrics.

I sense an increasing realization by our customers and prospects that ALM is becoming an instance of the practice of business process management, through which software delivery is automated through common workflows and practitioner tools -implementing methods, activities and change management in an orchestrated flow of software development and delivery.

That is what we’ve been focused on here at Serena, of course. If you’ll forgive me for pointing to some marketing material, we’ve encapsulated our view in the following presentation. Let me know what you think.

Watch Serena’s App Vision presentation: Orchestration & Visibility Across Teams, Processes & Tools.

fire hydrant
I recently heard an industry analyst state that IT is locally brilliant but globally stupid, while referring to the release management process. He drew an analogy and asked the question: are we rewarding the fireman or the arsonist?

Interesting question. Many of our customers report that application-centric deployments into pre-production and production environments are largely manual and script driven, with much dependence and reliance on the few resources currently tasked with defining and executing deployment tasks and activities. There comes a point with deployment when rewarding the fireman becomes akin to rewarding the arsonist, only they’re one and the same and the only resource who knows it, sees it, and can do something about it.

In a recent separate call with a customer, I met with two release analysts, a DBA, a resource responsible for middleware, and the release and production control manager. We learnt of 12 application types, 8 of which are web-based applications using WebLogic and Tomcat, and a backend Oracle SQL database. The customer reported an increase in application deployment requests to 60 per month, and has an average application deployment time of 38 minutes. The release analysts spend all their time creating and maintaining deployment scripts, managing the coordination of manual tasks and activities with DBAs and IT infrastructure and executing the deployments in pre-production and production environments. They both report an ever-increasing backlog of release planning and business priorities that currently remain undone. The release window is shrinking and the volume and velocity of deployment requests simply do not fit. Moreover, there is a high dependency on the release analysts and DBAs as they are working around the clock, becoming dangerously close to burning out.

We should reward where it makes sense, but we also need to ensure we optimize our release processes and practices. And I now know of two release analysts who would welcome their weekends back.

For more information about release automation, get the whitepaper Automate to Thrive: Driving Business Agility with Effective Release Management.

Many companies are frustrated by the lack of visibility into their overall application development process. In other words, they don’t have enough “app vision.” But it’s not that easy to get it. The bigger the IT organization, the more likely they have multiple stakeholders, tools, platforms, and processes.   After talking to many of our customers, we compiled the top 5 tips for achieving app vision.

  1. Integrate existing lifecycle tool investments within an automated SDLC. You need to have a standard development process that helps you understand what’s going on. But it also needs to be flexible enough to have localized processes and different tools “plug in” so you have complete app vision.
  2. Automate a lifecycle process with practitioner tool flexibility.  Don’t be coerced to change your processes and systems to fit a single vendor’s toolset. You should be able to get app vision with the tools, processes, and platforms that you want.
  3. Create total clarity with process metrics such as cycle time and duration, in addition to data metrics.   App vision is more than development data like the number of defects or baselines. You also need visibility into process metrics, like cycle times and lag times between development phases.
  4. Ensure role-based accessibility to relevant information at the right time.  You have to serve relevant information to the right people. You have to give them app vision when they need it. You can’t expect them to dig around a data warehouse to find the right information.
  5. Empower the team and contributors; think beyond specific tools. Serena’s Orchestrated ALM Dashboard  is just one example of a solution that goes beyond specific tools. It gives you app vision into both the development data and process metrics across all your tools.

Orchestrated ALM Dashboard

Fast globeI’m just back from a trip to Australia where I conducted a number of Release Management seminars.  There was tremendous interest in release management in general and an even more overwhelming interest in release automation.  A Delivery Manager from a large international insurance company approached me after one of the seminars.  We engaged in conversation about their release management process and discussed the increasing complexity of application tiers and infrastructure environments.

This inevitably led to a white board where he proceeded to sketch their release process and draw attention to a number of their challenges.  I listened intently as I’m a firm believer in the principle that prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.  We quickly agreed on what appeared to be all too familiar problems:

  • The increasing volume and velocity of application releases.
  • The translation of development scripts and guidelines into deployment tasks and activities for pre-production and production.
  • The manual sequencing of these tasks and activities across application tiers and infrastructure environments.

The following day I was invited to visit the Delivery Manager at the insurance company location. Sadly, it was announced that an application outage had occurred shortly before we arrived, and while we continued to understand the complexity and extent of their release processes and activities, it became apparent quickly that a DBA operation had been incorrectly applied, before the application was deployed. Troubleshooting an issue through a variety of largely manual deployment scripts is hard without an automated audit trail, and worse still, the automated backup recovery had failed to work also, thus causing a longer outage than would have been the case.

Their problem essentially became ours to help resolve.  And now together we are working to automate their release management process, simplify the complexity, eliminate handoff tasks and assignments, and automate service tasks while eliminating errors and optimizing the integrity of application-centric deployments.  Just another day’s work on the road!

Don’t miss this upcoming webcast next week on Wednesday, April 27 at 11:00 am EST:  DevOps – Development and Operations Working Together to Eliminate the Release Backlog.  I’m teaming up with Forrester Research, Inc. senior analyst Glenn O’Donnell to explore the value of release management technology, including release automation.  We’ll show you how to deploy applications more often, with more changes, and with fewer failures, to help solve the common challenge Development and Operations face – instituting new applications and changes to existing applications to grow the business faster and stronger.

I got a sneak peak at Glenn’s part of the presentation.  I’m not going to divulge too much but I will say that it has both an Ops and software engineering slant.  He drives home the point about applying some engineering principles to managing the release, and the importance of managing release packages. His bottom line: Dev and Ops must come together and get in the same boat.  Glenn also does a good job of explaining adoption of ITIL v3 and growing interest in Release Management from all stakeholders.

This webcast is the 2nd in a series of 3 Release Management webcasts with Forrester Research, Inc. The first one was with principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond – Five Ways to Streamline Release Management.  He provided “next practices” for improving release visibility and speed and a full report disclosing his research.  In the last webcast we’ll discuss the impact of agile development on release management.  Watch for it!