TOPdesk’s Four Flavors of Continuous Deployment
Recently I’ve explained how we are adopting the concepts of continuous deployment at TOPdesk. We do this to be able to deliver new solutions faster and at the same time lower the impact of individual updates for the users. You might have noticed that most SaaS installations are now updated every month instead of twice a year.
From 2017 onwards we started updating each SaaS environment weekly. The outlines of this accelerated process are currently tightened. In this post I’ll explain how we are going to keep you up to date and make sure that you will not be caught by surprise.
What will you notice during updates?
In most cases you’ll notice nothing. During the weekly update process the application will not be available for a couple of minutes. This interruption is planned during the nightly maintenance window.
Types of updates and information about them
You will not always notice a change after an update. Some releases will only contain changes “under the hood”. Other releases include changes directed at the customer experiences and will therefore be noticeable in different degrees. Based on the content of a release, we will adapt our communication to fit your information needs. Besides release notes we may use other ways to inform you if needed. We have defined four types of changes and their communication approach:
1. Invisible changes in the release
A lot of releases will contain code changes which are not visible for customers. These might include improvements in performance, security or maintainability. Updates to make sure that your environments stays reliable. They may also contain preparations for new features that are not yet activated.
In these cases the release notes will mention an update. It is possible that no changes are mentioned if they are all invisible.
2. Low impact visible changes
A release may contain improvements that do not impact your current way of working. Think of additional features like a new report option. Or small changes in the interface to address feedback on user-friendliness, or entirely new modules that you do not use yet.
In these cases, changes will be described in the release notes which are published just before or shortly after the update takes place. They might contain links to the updated manuals on the Help & Support to explain the (changed) functionality. In some new functionalities you will notice additional exposure in TOPdesk magazine, newsletters etc. to promote them.
3. Changes with impact on current way of working
For some improvements in the user experience we need to make changes in how you use TOPdesk currently. In these cases, we will choose an appropriate time to release them. Which could mean that we will hold back a feature for a number of updates. This way we make sure that you will have enough time to plan any necessary preparations, like updating your procedures or instructing your users.
You will be informed at least a month in advance. SaaS supervisors will receive notification by email with references to the release notes and any available additional information resources. These will explain how the functionality has changed and how you can make use of the improvements.
4. Changes with high impact and that might need your action
Every now and then, a larger improvement in TOPdesk might require action from your side before or after an update. We try to keep these number of updates as low as possible in order to keep the impact of updates as low as possible. An example will be a large upcoming release next year with a combination of major improvements addressing a certain theme.
In these cases the release will be planned carefully and communicated well in advance to make sure you have ample time to plan for any necessary actions from your side. Depending on the impact, we will tailor our communication to your needs. Keep an eye out for our upcoming release campaign to get an impression