Shippable is a company that helps organizations to create, manage and iterate their software. Shippable is at the heart of the DevOps movement, an inarguably buzzword-y name to describe a simple concept – that of better alignment between the people who build the software, and the people who run said software. The idea of DevOps is that it helps shorten the time that it takes from ideation to realization – by shortening the development and deployment time, DevOps allows organizations to move faster.

Shippable is specifically involved in the CI/CD area, which takes buzzwords to entirely new levels. But, much like DevOps has a simple, plain English explanation, so too does CI/CD. Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment simply means that software, rather than being on a once a year or once every several years deployment cycle, is continuously being worked on, improved and updated. CI/CD is the reason that companies like Facebook and Google can be rolling out literally dozens of software updates a day.

Going multiplatform

The CI/CD space is moving fast, and it is interesting to see how companies like Shippable are broadening their core proposition. A case in point is the announcement that the company is rolling out new analytics tools, and also broadening the platforms it supports. Whereas many vendors in the space are focused on a single platform – just Ubuntu, or just Windows, for example, Shippable wants to support practitioners working under any paradigm.

To that point Shippable is now supporting applications built on Mac OS X, iOS, and Windows and reconciling the configuration syntax, UI, and feature set between them call. Contrast that with organizations who use separate solutions for each operating system and have to deal with the attendant inefficiency, expense, and inconsistency. Says Avi Cavale, CEO of Shippable:

Shippable is a consistent DevOps platform across all types of applications, regardless of tools, architecture, language used to develop or deployment target used to run. With today’s release we have expanded beyond Ubuntu-based applications to bring CI and DevOps to mobile and Windows developers. We are excited to work with enterprises to standardize automation efforts across their application portfolios.

Analytics: everyone’s go-to requirement

In addition to the new multi-OS support, Shippable is announcing an analytics add-on that is designed to enable teams to measure and mature their DevOps processes. Part of the reason for this is that, in a trend-fueled industry, and with “analytics” very much the trend of the moment, no vendor can be seen to be behind the times. That said, some of what Shippable is offering, while kind of simple, is still useful for development and operations managers wishing to get their arms around how their teams are performing. The types of reports that this offering will be able to run include:

  • Development velocity for various components or teams
  • Code quality trends over time with filters for date ranges and components/teams
  • Anomalies in the workflow, i.e. when a feature is “stuck” and not making expected progress through its workflow

A move to deliver a complete DevOps Automation Platform

Shippable got its start way back in 2013 as a CI provider focused on Docker-based workflows. Time waits for no woman, however, and Shippable has expanded its offering significantly since launch to the point where it now integrates with 80+ products across the DevOps toolchain, including source control providers like GitHub Cloud/Enterprise, Bitbucket Cloud/Server and Gitlab, artifact repositories like Docker Hub and JFrog Artifactory, infrastructure automation tools such as Ansible and Terraform, and cloud providers and orchestration platforms including Kubernetes, Microsoft Azure, Amazon ECS and Google Cloud. What comes next is anyone’s guess!

Catching up with Cavale

The new offerings made it seem like a good time to catch up with Cavale and get his take on where Shippable in particular, but CI/CD generally is at as we enter 2018. So, in closing, some thoughts from him on a range of different topics:

On where CI/CD is today, relative to its origins:

In the last decade, CI/CD has grown from being a cult into a mainstream practice. CI has become a must-have for all software organizations, and every enterprise I have spoken to in the past 12 months is focused on bringing these practices into their organization.

On the growing breadth of what a CI/CD offering needs to deliver, and the benefits it brings to organizations:

Traditional CI was about primarily automating unit tests with stubbed out dependencies.However, as organizations faced an ever-increasing need for faster product releases, they realized CI wasn’t enough. Application components have many dependencies which are also changing rapidly, so testing against stubs simply isn’t effective at finding bugs that will bite you in later stages of your release cycle. You need to test in a live environment against the latest versions of all dependencies, and you need to do this for every commit. You also need Continuous Delivery early on in your development lifecycle to accelerate innovation. Developers/testers deploy to dev environments at least 20x more times than productions deployments, and its far more critical that this is automated extensively.”

And finally on the factors that make it difficult for organizations to achieve CI/CD:

Programming languages, development/testing tools, and software architectures are constantly evolving, which means organizations have a diverse mix of applications. Creating custom CD workflows for each app is time-consuming and often gets deprioritized against feature work. People consistently optimize for the short term without thinking of the ongoing advantage of having a fully automated CD platform. The DevOps toolchain is fragmented with a lot of overlapping functionality across tools. Most tools address the needs of a functional silo and it is difficult to build a workflow across these teams and tools that provides visibility, trace ability, and audit trails, without spending significant time and effort. Enterprises have many applications that have been built over multiple generations, and compliance and process requirements are more stringent. This makes it difficult to achieve CD across the organization in a standard fashion without a top-down directive, and sometimes even in spite of it.”

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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