Using Nolio's Application Release Automation Platform Tesco Reaches Previously Unattainable Milestones
Nolio has transformed Tesco's application deployment processes - cutting release times from days to mere minutes and mapping the way for lucrative international projects.
Technological advancement is the driving force of Tesco's future and one of the retailer's key objectives lies in the expansion of online international projects. True to its pioneering spirit, Tesco was the first retailer in the world to offer a robust home shopping service in 1996 and Tesco.com was formally launched in 2000. Tesco currently has online operations in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and South Korea.
Tesco aims to open at least 15 new online stores over the next three years. This is a highly lucrative market which Tesco is keen to enter quickly, but there are very high expectations with the project and it must be delivered smoothly, accurately and efficiently.
This video demonstrates what Tesco.com has been able to achieve with Nolio’s Zero Touch Deployment™.
To ensure rapid and constant deployments of online updates and applications, Tesco is working towards continuous integration. The retailer began implementing agile (sprint and scrum) methodologies, which dramatically increased the volume and frequency of application releases and R&D deliverables.
However, numerous complexities in the application deployments meant that Tesco's manual release processes were severely inadequate for agile methodologies. Some applications took days to deploy and required the expertise of many highly-skilled workers. An operational bottleneck formed, impairing Tesco’s release throughput and delaying critical application updates, patches and feature enhancements.
Tesco urgently needed to accelerate its time-to-market, increase efficiency and reduce errors before it could embark on its ambitious international project.
Tesco adopted Nolio ASAP as its standard solution for application release automation across Tesco.com.
All Tesco's application release processes start at R&D - the very beginning of the application lifecycle. Therefore, Tesco invited Nolio CTO & Co-Founder Alon Eizenman to its International R&D headquarters in India for on-the-job training and support in order to finish the processes as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Alon worked with the Change and Configuration Department for two weeks.
Tesco employs a Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) to define deployment work items and include all the information needed for a release.
Every application release contains numerous complexities and variable components. Tesco's applications are divided into four distinct sectors (in-store, application stores, OMS and TIBCO) with a total of 74 different services offered.
Each application deployment contains a different set of resources and each set can contain limitless combinations of the 74 services. To further exacerbate complexities, deployments run across five environments: development, integration, staging, pre-production and production. Each region runs across all environments and, as the international project is planned for 15 countries, there are potentially 75 different environments to be taken into consideration.
Prior to Nolio's intervention, release managers were building each process from scratch every time they needed to deploy a new application change - which involved creating custom scripts for each release. Resources were manually taken from TFS version control by release engineers before the application was deployed. This was an extremely time-consuming, error-prone and intricate process which offered zero visibility, predictability, and traceability.
ESTABLISHING AN INCREMENTAL MANIFEST
Nolio's automation expert Alon identified the current processes as inefficient and impossible to maintain.
Nolio CTO & Co-Founder Alon Eizenman
Alon immediately halted the practice of creating new workflows for each release and established an incremental manifest, which separates the dynamic elements of the application release from the fixed processes. This separation enables Tesco to keep the same fixed processes in place and concentrate on changing only the dynamic elements that need to be updated each time.
The dynamic elements of the manifest are the specific set of application resources that are needed for each release. The manifest deployment puts all application resource descriptives inside an xml file - detailing which resources should be taken, their specific location (i.e. VCS, network storage etc) and version. Details of this descriptive can be changed quickly and easily per release.
Nolio's workflow directs how the release process should be executed. This is a simple fixed process that can be employed and repeated time and time again. Numerous manifests can be executed through this one fixed process that orchestrates complex multi-tier release deployments with full visibility and traceability.
This manifest creates processes that can deploy numerous sets of applications and services in all environments throughout all regions. Rigorous safeguards are in place to assure quality control, IT governance and compliance. The manifest is kept in a version control system (VCS), which can only be modified by the release manager. The release manager is solely responsible for determining the content of release and documenting it in the manifest and the process can be repeatedly relied upon for any application deployment.
Prior to the implementation of Nolio's incremental manifest concept, Tesco had never successfully achieved automated deployment of TIBCO into the staging environment. With Nolio's new processes, the Tesco R&D teams reached the following milestones:
- 67% of applications were deployed into staging by the end of the first week
- 95% of applications were deployed into staging by the middle of the second week
By the end of the second week, the manifest and supporting processes were fully implemented. Deployments could then be released to pre-production and production environments, reliably and predictably, without the need to modify the deployment process – putting Tesco directly back on schedule.
The manifest and accompanying Nolio workflows, which took just two weeks to build, can be applied to unlimited regions across five environments and cut release times from days to minutes.
Siddhartha Roy, R&D Manager of Tesco's International Project
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