Introducing Software Delivery Management

Written by: Christina Noren
6 min read

Keeping Everyone on the Same Page in the Era of #ContinuousEverything

Editor's Note: This blog post was updated on August 20, 2019. The CloudBees solution for Software Delivery Management preview program is now available.

If you were amongst the attendees of our first few CloudBees Days events of 2019 , in Madrid April 4, Zurich April 10, or yesterday in Dallas April 16, you witnessed us introducing the world to a new category of software we are inventing here at CloudBees: Software Delivery Management, or SDM (yeah, I know the world needs another TLA - sorry.) Tomorrow at the San Francisco event, we have a big announcement that is key to us realizing this new vision.

So what is Software Delivery Management, or SDM? Why does the world need it?

Well, at the most basic level, with “software eating the world,” every company in the world is learning how to be a software company. That means that every company is trying to get better at delivering software. This is a big change for many from the time when software development in most companies was the province of IT as a cost center. This is what “digital transformation” is about. Software development organizations are now the engines of innovation at the companies that have transformed most quickly.

Digital Natives like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Google and the like as well as scores of fast moving startups have pioneered a set of continuous integration, delivery and deployment practices (CI/CD) as well as industrialized agile and DevOps methodologies to deliver new releases to their customers, 1000s of times more frequently, with higher quality, fewer defects and faster time to recover.

Even software companies like us are learning to be more effective software companies to keep up, and essentially going through our own digital transformations.

These transformations usually start with adopting CI/CD, agile and DevOps tools, practices and cultures. At CloudBees, as the leading CI/CD vendor to enterprises in the world, with nearly 50% of the Fortune 100 amongst our 1000s of customers, and the corporate sponsor of Jenkins, the dominant CI/CD automation server in the world, we have a front row seat to this mad dash. In the last year, we’ve seen these initiatives move from important to top level urgency at the largest companies in the world.

But once these transforming companies start seeing faster and better software through these practices, they start to see other problems.

People outside of engineering have a hard time knowing what’s been deployed. Engineers working on a feature are disconnected from the user and market input that drove product management to prioritize the feature. A feature might be behind a feature flag but customer success doesn’t know what enabling the feature for a customer will do exactly. Roadmaps are increasingly irrelevant so marketing and sales feel like they don’t know what’s coming down the line to make the most of the innovation in the market. Engineering doesn’t know what changes in system performance or user behavior resulted specifically from their latest change. Senior management doesn’t have a trustworthy view of value moving through the system and the business impact of this faster pace of innovation.

For a new greenfield product built to be buzzword compliant from the start - cloud native, microservices on Kubernetes or serverless, etc. - some of the newer generation cloud native CD tools (like our own Jenkins X ) + some of the latest generation observability tools may solve these problems to an extent, and from a developer’s perspective - seeing how their feature flows through to, and performs in, production.

But that’s not the reality of software development in an organization of any complexity in terms of sheer size, the diversity of software being developed and environments to which it is being delivered, and the range of stakeholders who legitimately care when software is at the center of the business. In our Madrid event this month, I was really struck by how many attendees in roles like head of DevOps transformation talked about the impedance mismatches with other functions of the business once software development becomes truly continuous and agile - this is what I’ve written about before as “Continuous Everything .”

So Software Delivery Management (SDM) is the new category of software system that we are inventing to solve this problem of getting every function in and beyond the software delivery organization on the same page. On the same page about what’s being or been delivered, why, and its impact. Ensuring that the entire organization can have connected processes on top of a common real time view of the truth. That encompasses the entirety of diverse software product portfolios, from mainframe to microservices, on premise to public cloud, embedded to mobile, and beyond.

SDM will be for the software development organization what is for the sales organization, NetSuite is for finance and Workday is for HR.

Like the best of these systems, it serves all roles and all levels in the organizations that use them. For SDM, our aim is that even developers find that using such a system doesn’t control them, but sets them free by giving them all the context they need to build software that has an impact - and the ability to see that impact in concrete ways. And other roles can interact with software development in a supportive rather than disruptive way. While pointy-haired bosses like me stay out of their way when we can see that things are humming along. Together, everyone in an organization using SDM cooperates fluidly with one another to “Build Stuff that Matters.”

Watch this space in the coming weeks and months for more detail on what the building blocks of an SDM are, how it will benefit different people in different roles in software organizations, and how we’re using our own internal experiences at CloudBees to inform its design.

Meanwhile, the foundation of software delivery management as a category and as a practice is CI/CD, and choosing CloudBees for CI/CD today is the best first step on that journey we will hopefully take together.

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