On this special episode of DevOps Radio live from DevOps World | Jenkins World 2019, Sam Fell is joined by a special panel of guests to discuss feature flags. On the panel is Erez Rusovsky, former CEO and founder of Rollout, who now leads the product of Rollout feature flags at CloudBees; Chris Condo, principal analyst at Forrester, who covers application development delivery; and Rachel Stephens, an analyst with RedMonk, focused on understanding technology trends from a practitioner-led perspective.
The panel kicks off by discussing how feature flags enable safe, progressive delivery in a production environment. Stephens says that feature flags are a crucial way that software can actually roll out to small subsets, do experiments and do safe and reliable deployments in a speedy and efficient manner. Erez agrees, saying that feature flags allow you to extend to a feature level, allowing users to be able to open a feature just to a selected amount of their user base, either percentage base or just any other criteria, and then see how that feature behaves for them before they want to roll this out to somebody else. Condo adds that as teams move to microservices, they're finding it difficult to replicate a production environment in a test system. By having the ability to roll out a feature in a progressive way - and to have customers tested on real data that’s their data - developers can get better feedback on whether or not something is actually working.
The group then goes on to chat about common ways that people can help manage the different feature flags that have been turned on inside of a company. Rachel Stephens says that feature flags overall can add resilience and robustness, but it does require maintenance in a business. She adds that businesses want to have robust tests for where feature flags branch. Erez jumps in to say that the companies succeeding at this have a process around the life cycle management of feature flags where the engineers are the ones that are driving the feature flags’ creation and adoption.
The panel closes out by discussing what the future holds for feature flags. Chris and Erez agree that data is going to be a key component of feature flags moving forward, as well as the automation of a lot of processes. Erez adds he hopes to get to a place in the future where software will be adaptive to the customer.
Interested in hearing more conversations like this? Check out the CloudBees website to listen to our archive of episodes , or subscribe to DevOps Radio and Spotify and Apple Podcasts to get access to the latest and greatest.
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