Telrock designs and develops SaaS applications for consumer digital engagement. It provides a full lifecycle digital engagement platform for banks, credit card issuers, utility companies and other entities seeking to optimize customer experience and efficiency. At the cutting edge of technology provision, Telrock constantly looks for ways to deliver better software, faster.
"We had started 'doing' DevOps," says Lindsay Smith, CTO at Telrock."That is, we had begun automating some processes in our SDLC but we'd run into a couple of issues and felt that having a third party review our progress to date would be useful. That's how we found Ranger4 - our research showed they had the skills and service offering in this area that we needed."
Telrock wanted to improve their software delivery processes in order to:
- Reduce delivery cycle time from idea to implementation
- Improve quality and the customer experience
- Stop customer effecting issues in automated deployments
- Drive efficiencies in the software delivery process
Ranger4 undertook a DevOps Toolchain Review to:
- Provide an in depth technical review of Telrock’s software development processes and existing toolchain in view of industry best practices
- Provide observation and recommendations for the output of a roadmap including actual technical flows, steps and tools for completing Continuous Delivery in order to move up the DevOps Maturity Scale and achieve consistency, predictability and reliability in the release process
This was a two day onsite engagement that began with a kick off session with the project stakeholder and then moved rapidly into a series of workshops around ideas, integration, quality and run. We also conducted a hands on review of the existing toolchain before gathering our thoughts and presenting our recommendations back to the stake holder.
The Starting Point
Telrock had been using DevOps principles and building a Continuous Delivery pipeline/DevOps toolchain using various components including: Bash scripts, Jira, Confluence, Subversion, Drools, Git, Nexus, Jenkins, SonarQube and Run Deck. Puppet had been investigated with limited success. QA/testing had recently been brought back in house and tools such as JBehave and Selenium were being considered.
This engagement was primarily a toolchain review, however, since the toolchain is built to support processes it naturally involves considerations around culture and interactions too. We categorised the recommendations in the same flow as undertaken in the workshops i.e:
There were 12 high level recommendations made as follows:
- Improve use and maturity around user stories and their development
- Move to full lifecycle product approach - not bespoke projects
- Consider consolidating onto confluence and JIRA Service Desk for customer interactions
- Simplify, make consistent, and make the deployment process accessible and visible through a self service release automation tool
- Speed up build time & feedback by adopting build and deployment pipeline patterns
- Adopt Jenkins Job Builder in order to move Jenkins Jobs into source controlled configuration and drive consistency
- Continue to break down the Dev/Test silo through closer collaboration
- Introduce much greater degrees of test automation, particularly BDD acceptance testing to drive collaboration across stakeholders
- Empower the QA Manager and better define the role and responsibilities across QA
- Move configuration and environment definition into source controlled code
- Hire or appoint a DevOps Engineer or team who enables other engineers with a better path to production
- Improve monitoring coverage
What Happened Next?
Telrock realigned teams to support Product not Project delivery and implemented Ranger4's tooling recommendations thus reducing the build time from over an hour to one minute. Making the recommended organisational changes enabled the QA team widen their remit and ensure that quality is built into the code early on, thus reducing the number of defects at all stages of development.
Lindsay concludes: "We found Ranger4 to be extremely responsive and timely - they had exactly the services we needed and we were impressed with the calibre of all of the team that we met. We're looking forward to continuing this work with Ranger4 in the future."
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