I am seeing more and more inquiries focused on driving business transformation where the transformation depends on software and business technology.  ING is a model for digital transformation, and Ralph Hamers, CEO, has publicly reinforced the bank’s transformation. Hamers stated “We have to recognize that technology is what Banks do”[i]. Every business today must focus on delivering applications faster to drive customer experiences to meet the business’ constantly evolving requirements, or risk becoming digital dust! Speed is important, but without quality it is irrelevant – which is where Continuous Delivery and Release Automation (CDRA) tools add value to the process is delivering repeatability. CDRA tools ensure that quality software is released at the speed the business desires and needs to stay ahead.

Automation Across The Lifecycle Is Foundational

One of the largest impediments to speed with quality is the proliferation of automation silos in large enterprises.  These siloes have existed for many years, especially within Ops and Dev teams who have been streamlining functions within their domains for years.  DevOps transforms this!  DevOps drives collaboration between previously disconnected Dev and Ops teams to shift from  from individual functional excellence towards delivering applications and services as a single product organization. Accountability resides within this product team for all aspects of the product including speed and quality[ii]. Our research tells us by focusing on integrated tooling across continuous delivery and release, organizations are transforming customer expectations.

Velocity With Quality Is The Destination, CDRA Will Get You There

A current trend of of automating the complete pipeline from development of code, through all the intermediate stages and ultimately delivering directly, and more frequently automatically to production is emerging. This trend reflects our endeavors to continuously improve, so for the 2017 Wave, we focused on the automation of continuous delivery and release automation pipeline, representing good DevOps practices that deliver quality.

One of the critical aspects which impact business velocity is the deployment  of code to production. This requires release schedules to be expedited to reflect the speed required by the business.   CDRA tools are critical to this journey.

Leading CDRA tools model, deploy, and visualize application pipelines and orchestrate the deployment process across any target environment. They also automate the entire delivery and release pipeline between development and production, and support technology use cases such as containers, microservices, test data management, and vulnerability tracking.

Forrester inquiries are reflecting the growing number of I&O pros who confirm the criticality of these tools as cornerstones of the continuous delivery pipeline.  The CDRA market is evolving in response to the demands of a fully automated delivery pipeline. Forward thinking I&O pros are using CDRA tools to move beyond cumbersome, complex and often error-prone scripts. These professionals use the tools to model the complete application ecosystem including infrastructure, middleware, application and all dependencies. Using this model, they then orchestrate the release in a structured release processes – either Canary, Blue-Green, A/B Testing or Dark deployments.

For a detailed look at industries embracing the automation trend in DevOps, see the Forrester report DevOps Heat Map 2017.

Ease Of Use, Foundational For Success

The ever increasing CDRA vendor community continues to transform their solutions.   As in previous years, vendors added valuable features that include support for emerging technologies like containers, microservices, test data management, and vulnerability tracking. Additionally, many have added opinionated implementations – curated implementations that provide examples of good practices from the industry to maximize time to value using the vendor’s tools. As the adoption of DevOps continues to scale, ease of use is a major challenge for consumers in scaling the use of the tools. Vendors need to focus on simplicity of use to drive the business value leveraging  CDRA tools.

The Fifteen Most Significant CDRA Providers

In order to understand the continuous delivery and release automation CDRA market, we have researched the capabilities required and vendors in this space in our recent wave –  The Forrester Wave™: ntinuous Delivery And Release Automation, Q3 2017[iii], Chris Gardner and I developed   26-criterias   for CDRA providers to evaluate their performance in this competitive market. We identified the 15 most significant vendors based on inquiries from Forrester clients including; Atlassian, CA Technologies, Chef Software, Clarive, CloudBees, Electric Cloud, Flexagon, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM, Micro Focus, Microsoft, Puppet, Red Hat, VMware, and XebiaLabs. Our rigorous process researched, analyzed, and scored vendors responses, demos and materials, providing a comparison that Forrester clients can use to assist with their investment decisions.  Focused on core features such as modeling, deploying, managing, governing, and visualizing pipelines, and on each vendor’s ability to match a strategy to these features. This report will assist you in determining which vendors to consider when looking for CDRA solutions for their development and operations (DevOps) automation.

As always, I welcome your observations, comments, and experiences. You can contact me here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@RobertEStroud).


[i] Ralph Hamers, CEO ING video shown during the 2016 DevOps Enterprise Summit London – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EY8dz4W3o

[ii] For more information on organizing product teams for success – see Organize And Staff I&O Pros For Successful DevOps Practices Forrester report.

[iii] The The Forrester Wave™: Continuous Delivery And Release Automation, Q3 2017 is available to most Forrester clients at no additional charge.