A healthcare information provider cuts deployment time down to minutes

IBM UrbanCode Deploy software helps speed products to market

Published on 25-Oct-2013

"The actual time to deploy has been reduced from multiple hours, and up to two days, to multiple minutes." - A vice president, online healthcare information provider

A healthcare information provider

Computer Services, Healthcare

Agile Software Development, Automation, DevOps


This company is an online healthcare information provider offering consumers information on improving health or treating an illness. Based in the United States, the company employs approximately 1,500 people. The company’s health information services systems consist of more than 200 applications.

Business need:
To quickly deliver an engaging customer experience with the most up-to-date information, this company needed a more efficient and reliable process to deploy new products and features.

The organization implemented IBM® UrbanCode Deploy software to automate and improve its application deployment processes.

The company now achieves faster, continuous delivery of new functionality and value to customers. The solution helps reduce deployment risk and supports a more collaborative culture.

Case Study

This company is an online healthcare information provider offering consumers information on improving health or treating illness. Based in the United States, the company employs approximately 1,500 people. The organization’s health information services systems consist of more than 200 applications.

Delivering up-to-date health information as quickly as possible
Health information is constantly changing. To deliver the most up-to-date information to customers as quickly as possible, the organization recently adopted agile development. The company’s technology group, responsible for developing and maintaining applications, switched to agile methods so that it could reduce the risk associated with big, infrequent releases and move to releasing small batches of features and enhancements to market more often.

However, the company found that it also needed to speed deployment processes. “Because development is creating more functions and features more quickly, we have to get them through our environments, tested, and out to production at the same speed,” says a vice president at the company. “Otherwise, we have simply moved the bottleneck.”

The organization’s existing deployment solution combined tools designed for other purposes, such as administration or content management, and strung them together with custom scripts. The process also involved many manual steps, which introduced the potential for human error. Developers and quality assurance (QA) teams were bogged down with the numerous administrative steps required to request a new deployment. And the company’s web operations team was spending much of its time deploying production and QA environments.

To improve the speed and reduce the cost of deployments, the organization began looking for a more reliable and full-featured, automated application deployment solution.

Choosing IBM UrbanCode Deploy software for deployment automation
The company implemented IBM® UrbanCode Deploy software to help it get new features to market more quickly. Designed to orchestrate and automate the deployment of applications, middleware configurations and database changes into development, test and production environments, the application helps accelerate time to market, drive down costs and reduce risk.

Now, the company delivers updated software as often as needed, to as many servers as required, on demand and on schedule. For example, to add new features into one of its products, the development team writes the code and then puts it into the development integration environment. Using UrbanCode Deploy software, the company can then with just a single click move the code to the QA environment, where teams perform user acceptance and quality testing. Teams then forward the code to production, following the same plan and the same set of builds, which ensures that the tested code is the same code that is moving to the production environment, thereby reducing deployment risks.

“UrbanCode Deploy software helps us take the processes that existed only in peoples’ heads and build them into a tool so we can make sure we follow the same process every time. We gain insight into the process, and if there’s a failure, identify exactly where the failure happened in order to find it and fix it faster,” says the vice president.

Using the UrbanCode Deploy software, the company has:
· Reduced the time required for deployments from up to two days to just minutes
· Improved collaboration between development teams and operations teams
· Cut time to market for new products and features
· Strengthened consistency between deployments
· Empowered developers and QA staff to deploy their own builds with a single click
· Significantly reduced the administrative tasks required of development and operations staff for deployments

Cutting deployment time, cost and risk
In the past, the company relied on multiple systems and tools, including email, to deploy code to test and production environments. Deployments could be delayed as staff waited for responses from other team members. Using the UrbanCode solution, the entire deployment process is streamlined. “The actual time to deploy has been reduced from multiple hours, and up to two days, to multiple minutes,” says the vice president. Plus, the deployments are now consistent. “Deploying the application happens the same way in every single environment, whether it’s production, QA or development. And that’s critical to having a repeatable and consistent process,” says the company’s director of web operations.

The application also provides greater transparency and visibility into the entire deployment process at a glance, showing on a single screen how the code is moving through deployment steps. Teams figure out problems themselves, reducing the number of issues requiring escalation. “We can help solve each other’s problems, and now we actually have the time to do it, too,” says the director. Developers and QA staff can now easily deploy their own builds with a single click, eliminating numerous administrative tasks previously needed to request a deployment. “Developers were doing a lot of work that was not development work,” says the director. “It was ‘how do I get this software out from my development environment to the next environment, and what are the requirements?’ Now, with UrbanCode Deploy and using our new process, integrating the [continuous integration] tool with Deploy, pushing a couple buttons, and it’s ready for the next stage.”

The web operations team has also been freed from many administrative tasks. “We’re able now to concentrate on more projects like improving the website and its architecture, instead of just tracking the deployment process and troubleshooting deployments,” says the director.

Enabling a cultural shift toward greater collaboration
Another benefit of the solution is that it has helped foster a more collaborative DevOps culture at the company. “The fact that we had development, QA and ops engineers all in the same room choosing the tool, that process and the standards really created a sense of collaboration and let everyone walk in the other person’s shoes, understanding the challenges others face. To me that’s what the DevOps culture is about: breaking down the walls and letting staff understand everyone’s challenges. Everyone benefits from using tools and processes like this,” says the vice president.

In the past, the development and operations teams had been siloed and sometimes even at odds. “One team would throw a request over the wall, the other team would fulfill the request and then throw another request to another team,” according to the director. Now, they are all working together for the good of the company. “With the Deploy application, we’ve integrated these two teams,” he says. “Now, from development to release, both teams are enrolled. We’re working together and realize that, in the end, it’s the business needs we need to meet.”

This collaboration has enabled the teams to significantly reduce time to market. “IBM UrbanCode lets us take what we’re developing in the agile development process and implement it quickly and safely throughout our environments and out to production,” says the vice president. “It’s helping us innovate faster.”

About the IBM DevOps solution
The capabilities in this case study are supported by IBM DevOps solution components. The DevOps approach is an enterprise capability for continuous software delivery that can enable organizations to seize market opportunities, respond more rapidly to client feedback, and balance speed, cost, quality and risk. By applying lean and agile principles across the software delivery lifecycle, the DevOps approach helps organizations deliver a differentiated and engaging client experience, achieve quicker time to value, and gain increased capacity to innovate. The IBM DevOps solution uses an open-standards-based platform and a continuous feedback loop across the delivery process, and it is designed to integrate into existing heterogeneous lifecycle environments to deliver value quickly.

There are six key practices to the DevOps approach: continuous business planning, collaborative development, continuous testing, continuous release and deployment, continuous monitoring, and continuous customer feedback and optimization. IBM UrbanCode Deploy software supports continuous release and deployment, helping companies orchestrate and automate the deployment of applications, middleware configurations and database changes into development, test and production environments.

For more information
To learn more about IBM UrbanCode software, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/ibm/devops/us/en.

Download the analyst report: Continuous Delivery is Reshaping the Future of ALM. https://www14.software.ibm.com/webapp/iwm/web/signup.do?source=swg-rtl-sd-ar&S_PKG=ov17430

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM UrbanCode Deploy

Legal Information

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