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Processes

From Compact Disk to Continuous Deployment

By Jeroen Boks on July, 20 2016

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Jeroen Boks

Chief Information Officer

Dating back to the years that software was shipped on CDs, many companies still deliver updates in a yearly or half-yearly release cycles. In a rapidly changing world, we want to be able to respond more quickly to customer demands and changes in the market. To accomplish that, we are changing our delivery process for TOPdesk SaaS customers to a model often called Continuous Deployment. This update outlines what this means for you and what you can expect in the coming period.

Benefits of releasing more often

Our current half yearly release cycle means we often have to wait for the next ‘shipping moment’ to release something we completed a long time before. In the meantime we help you out with workarounds where needed, even when we know the solution has already been developed. In critical situations we can release a patch, each one resulting in a lot of effort being spent on testing and releasing the individual patch. Energy we would rather spend on creating the next big improvement for our customers. By having more structural release moments, we will be able to deliver new solutions to our customers as soon as they are ready.

When we started our SaaS services in 2007, most of the work that involved maintaining and updating environments was done manually. However, we currently have over 1200 customer environments to manage, so we have automated the larger part of testing and deployment. This has not only saved time, the risks associated with a release have also significantly decreased, and the release process has become more reliable. Having this automation in place now makes it possible to have more regular releases with less impact on the customer’s experience.

Faster releases will also improve the feedback loop to our development process. Currently, solutions are often shipped to customers half a year or more after they are created. By the time customer feedback reaches developers, there is a considerable chance that they are working on new projects. Having to switch back to solutions that were created ‘way back’ is not very efficient. Faster feedback makes sure that developers are more involved in the customer experience. And are able to respond quickly with improvements.

All in all, we believe that Continuous Deployment will help us in elevating your TOPdesk experience.

What will you notice next?

Over next year, we will improve our delivery pipeline one step at a time. This will eventually result in weekly release moments. We will first take care of ‘quick wins’, and later focus on more difficult parts of the process.

From the release of TOPdesk 5.7 on SaaS onwards, we will pick up speed and release monthly service updates to most of our SaaS customers. Customers with customer solutions or specific agreements are excluded from this cycle for now.

These updates will contain bug fixes and small improvements, often in response to customer feedback. Larger changes that may require more attention will still be announced in advance, so that your organization will be able to make any necessary preparations.

We will adapt our communication to this new approach. As updates are going to be smaller, we will also reduce the impact and needed preparation. If larger changes are released, they will still be announced in advance by email to the main contacts in your organization. We are currently creating a central location for information on smaller changes, so you can read up on everything whenever you want.

For on premises customers, nothing will change at this point. Just as you are used to, we will publish a version on the Extranet every six months and service packs if necessary. The published versions will be ‘proven versions’, previously released on SaaS. This way even on premises customers will profit from the improved quality of each release. If you want to know more about the benefits of SaaS and Continuous Deployment for your organization, your TOPdesk account manager is standing by to help you.

What can you do?

  • Follow our website; we will publish more information on Continuous Deployment as we go.
  • Keep an eye on your email. We will send important information on releases to the known SaaS Main Contacts.
  • Check whether the correct persons in your organization are registered as SaaS Main Contact on TOPdesk Extranet. Go to extranet.topdesk.com and go to ‘Manage contact persons’.

We will keep you updated on our progress.

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