Automated App Packaging
How automation is changing the way organisations package their applications

It is commonly known that digital transformation programs place a heavy emphasis on speed. Businesses need faster access to data and insights to drive change that increases efficiency, contains costs, and encourages innovation.

Software is a critical facilitator of change as is automation. Combining both factors will help to accelerate the change your business needs – which is why automated application packaging is gaining traction.

Simplified packaging, more software releases

The need for speed has forced IT departments to restructure and assess their way around new methodologies. Agile, DevOps, or a combination of both are commonplace as businesses accelerate software development and releases. This is particularly true where continuous integration and continuous deployment are in operation.

Automated application packaging is a natural extension of this principle, simplifying the process of preparing software for deployment. By reducing the amount of time and resources required to prepare, compile and deploy new updates, your development team can devote more of each release cycle to building more new features and fixes.

Self-service application packaging on the increase

Automated application packaging offers simplified tooling to minimise manual input. In doing so, these tools help to reduce much of the ‘bureaucracy’ associated with traditional packaging. A developer can package their latest code update without the usual overheads of involving packaging, quality assurance, and testing teams.

This is not to say that self-service application packaging bypasses important quality standards. The tools will also automate many of the testing routines to ensure that the new software meets requirements.

Enhanced automated testing

Software testing remains vital – but it too can be automated to some degree. As you would expect, non-functional application testing features allow you to verify the basic readiness of a new update.

Automating a basic install – launch – close – uninstall cycle will provide some confirmation that the application functions as expected. Indeed, using automated packaging tools in this way will allow businesses to test thousands of applications in a matter of hours, saving a considerable amount of time, resources, and budget in the process. It also means that the packaging team can focus their resources more effectively on the applications that do not pass tests.

Automation can cover more than non-functional application testing though. We are seeing suitability testing and performance testing becoming a standard aspect of the automated application packaging process. Using these techniques, developers can quickly assess whether their latest application iteration is suitable for use across all environments – desktop, virtual desktop, mobile – without having to perform manual installs for instance.

Similarly, the packaging process can conduct automated testing procedures to assess host system resource usage. By checking key performance indicators like CPU usage, memory leaks, and storage load, developers can confirm the software will operate within defined parameters to deliver an acceptable user experience.

The results of tests run during packaging can be collated automatically. These insights can then be fed back into the next development cycle to ensure continued improvement of the existing codebase is included as well as new features.

Closer integration with release management and deployment

For maximum efficiency, automated application packaging and testing workflows can be closely integrated with your release management systems. Where functional test scripts and evaluation can be completed as part of the packaging stage, you can bypass manual testing entirely for those applications which pass.

These pre-approved packages can then be deployed with a single click, dramatically accelerating upgrade cycles. Packages could even be deployed automatically if they meet a pre-defined threshold to further reduce friction in a DevOps environment.

Quantifying the impact of automated application packaging

Automated packaging delivers the greatest benefits in terms of time and resource usage. By reducing the amount of manual input required to prepare an update for promotion to the live environment, you free your employees to focus on other aspects of the development cycle.

The most immediate gain will be in terms of extending the actual development phase of each sprint. Your developers will gain valuable extra time that allows them to further refine code – and raise the quality of each deliverable. You will also have the option of scaling backtesting and QA teams – or redeploying those people to other tasks, focusing them on known test failures, rather than spreading them thinly across every application and update.

These benefits will have a marked effect on your development costs – and every improvement in output will be felt elsewhere in the business too, from more efficient operations to happier, more loyal customers.

 

To learn more about how you can automate your application packaging processes – and how it can transform your software deployments contact us at hello@camwood.com or click here for more details on our Application Services.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Daniel Williams
Daniel Williams is the Head of Technology at Camwood.
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