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Welcoming Gene Kim

Renowned DevOps Visionary Joins XebiaLabs as Strategic Advisor

CoachClub

Reliable Deployments in an Agile Development Environment

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Background

CoachClub is the first video website dedicated to sports coaching. A guaranteed availability of CoachClub’s website is an absolute must, since the website forms the key part in their solution.

Having adopted the Agile software development methodology, frequent changes to the software behind the website occur. For handling the process of deploying these changes reliably, predictably and in-time, CoachClub selected XL Deploy as their deployment automation solution.

Challenge

The challenges CoachClub faced were threefold, and related to quality of service, speed of change and costs.

Very high demands on a smooth deployment process

Any B2C website needs to be available 24X7. Consisting of Web professionals, the technical team wanted to avoid unreliable, risky and chaotic deployments in order to be compliant with very strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Frequent deliveries of software packages

CoachClub has decided to build its website by using Agile methodologies like Scrum, mainly to reduce the time-to-market of new commercial offerings. This also required that deployments had to follow the same pace of software deliveries, resulting in updates to the CoachClub website every 2 weeks.

Budget constraints

CoachClub is a young company, focusing on delivering high-quality services at a competing price point. This means that they constantly keep a close eye on their own operational costs. CoachClub calculated that writing deployment scripts would be too expensive for them. The first estimates to do so was in the range of 10.000 euros.

On top of that, having one operator busy 2 days per months following a complex guide would have costed another 5.000 Euros per year. The deployment solution CoachClub had in mind had to fall below this price point.

Solution

CoachClub’s key requirements, used during the selection of their new deployment automation solution were:

  • Very high availability: deployments need to be carried out without any down-time of the website.
  • High speed: deployments are required to bre completed within an hour.
  • High predictability: the deployment process needs to follow the ITIL recommendations.

A guiding principle of Scrum is to deliver fully operational software at the end of every sprint. Therefore, CoachClub chose to integrate XL Deploy directly into their development work, by using XL Deploy’s plugin for Maven. This allowed developers to design the deployments already in advance in so-called runbooks.

At the end or every sprint, the Operation Department operators just had to select and use the runbooks created by the developers to carry out the deployments and upgrade the website with the latest features.

Benefits

CoachClub made a rough estimate that a scheduled downtime of their website for even one hour per month would amount to roughly 15,000 Euros annually. This amount does not yet reflect the loss in customer trust, the negative impact on their corporate image and possible lost opportunities due to unavailability of some of their online services. Combined, these would probably multiply the downtime costs by a factor 3 to 4.

By using XL Deploy, CoachClub can now guarantee upgrades to their website without any downtime. Deployments are carried out 2 times a month, and generally are completed within 50 minutes. The investments in XL Deploy were earned back within a 6 months’ period.