CloudBees Acquires Feature Flags Capability from Rollout

Brian Nash's picture

Developers, rejoice!  Feature flags are now easier than ever with Rollout and backed by CloudBees for the stability you depend on.

Have some questions about what the addition of Rollout means for you, as a CloudBees customer?  Or as a Rollout customer, what it means to suddenly be a CloudBees customer? Hopefully, they are answered here!  Also please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account team - this is a great reason to have a discussion with them about what capabilities best suit your needs now and in the future.

In layperson’s terms, what does Rollout do?

Rollout provides an enterprise-grade feature flags capability, with robust deployment rules and audience segmentation and an experimentation framework for controlling which audiences are exposed to which features.  Feature flagging is a method to show or hide specific software features at runtime - features are coded with a flag and “released” to production systems but only exposed to a given user if that user meets the criteria for the experiment.

What’s the rationale behind the acquisition?

Continuous delivery is increasingly enabled by having feature flags to enable or disable a feature (often many at once). Releasing software is inherently risky in most situations (and in some cases, outside of the developers control: mobile apps, even SPA web apps in some environments) - and feature flags decouple the physical release from the enabling of features. The release (or “rollout”!) can then be controlled by different people in the org: developers, managers, product managers and allow for careful, controlled release to align with campaigns, experiments and more.  So the “delivery” of features is enabled by feature flags in many cases, making them an important or perhaps integral part of continuous delivery (CD).   Rollout moves CloudBees’ footprint into the production deployment (and runtime) of applications (all kinds, mobile, web, services) deepening our relationship with our customers, by enabling them to shift their pipeline further right.  Rollout allows us to help people speed up safe software deliveries for all platforms.

Where will the Rollout team go?

The entire Rollout team will be joining the CloudBees product organization. The Rollout team is located in both San Francisco and Tel Aviv.

What’s the product future?

Rollout will be a part of the CloudBees suite - accessed from CloudBees as a top-level feature. There are consumers of Rollout who are actually not as far along in their CD journey as they would like to be but they can still use feature flags. This can be especially appealing to larger organizations with an older codebase in which migrating into CD has been a long journey.

What are some customer needs that led to this acquisition?

The majority of feature flag implementations are bespoke, not using a platform like Rollout.  Developers in some environments (including where DevOps is practiced) may be hesitant of merging their changes to the master branch as they may not be able to support it. This means software remains un-merged and takes people away from trunk-based developments. Using feature flags means developers can test and merge changes with confidence, and then separately enable the features in production as needed (and should things go wrong, they can flick a switch instead of rolling back a release).

Rollout also provides excellent SDKs that make it very easy for developers to add feature flags to their apps in their language of choice (using idioms appropriate to that language - for example in Java, static typing is used to define feature flags so a small typo doesn’t mean your feature flag doesn’t work: an all to common problem).  Configuration as code is emerging as an important practice for developers - and Rollout can be used in this fashion. This means that developers can be confident that the configuration of their flags is in sync with their source code. This is (currently) a unique feature for Rollout.

What are the use cases for Rollout?

Feature flags are a popular and powerful capability for nearly any type of software.  It’s highly common for an e-commerce platform to use them (Amazon.com, Zulily.com, and Booking.com all do) but any product or application that wants to offer different functionality to different subsets of their audience for security, pricing, testing or product differentiation reasons will find them highly valuable.  They can also be used to streamline deployment and operations, allowing features to be deployed gradually with ease and rolled back at will.

  • Rollout can be used with microservices, teams practicing CD or even legacy apps. It can provide existing apps with a more powerful way of launching features without necessarily changing their architecture or deployment.
  • Rollout allows changes to be merged as soon as code complete - and then turned on at a later date.
  • Rollout also allows “experimentation” - different versions of a page (for example) or behavior can be deployed, and rollout can split up the users into groups and different groups get different experiments. You can then measure the results and decide what is best.

Finally, Rollout can be used for remote configuration: there may be settings in your application you wish to control remotely and change at any time:

  • to support making features available to specific customers or groups for qualitative feedback.
  • to support effective continuous delivery and allow safe merging of in-progress feature work.
  • to support canary releases / progressive delivery.
  • to support A/B and multivariate testing.
  • to test the operational characteristics of changes.
  • to allow dynamic or manually controlled kill switches.

What are the Rollout products and where can I learn more about them?

Rollout.io is the best place to start to find out more about the products. 

How will Rollout customers benefit?

Rollout customers benefit in the short term from the same powerful Rollout feature flags capability that is now supported by the CloudBees organization.  In the future, Rollout customers will also benefit from more powerful integration of their feature flags with their CI/CD system as part of a full software delivery management system.  

How will CloudBees customers benefit?

CloudBees customers benefit in the short term by having available a powerful feature flags capability that is supported by the same CloudBees organization they already trust.  In the future, CloudBees customers will also benefit from more powerful integration of their feature flags with their CI/CD system and in the longer term as part of a full software delivery management system.  

Can I use both solutions together at the same time?

Absolutely!  Rollout is totally complementary with any CloudBees solution.

More questions?  

CloudBees customers should contact your sales rep, CSM or technical support for more information. Or get a free demo and see the power of Rollout.

Additional resources