“In order for feature management to be scaled effectively across enterprises, it cannot operate in a silo separate from the tools used for CI and CD,” said Dinesh Keswani, chief technology officer, CloudBees. “There must be common visibility and governance of feature flags throughout the software delivery lifecycle. These new enhancements lay the foundation for fully integrated feature flags across the CloudBees Platform, enabling enterprise-scale progressive delivery, especially for our customers with highly complex environments."
The new CloudBees Feature Management enhancements serve the entire lifecycle, including integration with continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). With these announcements, CloudBees is extending its feature management capabilities across three elements of software delivery including Jenkins for open source users and CloudBees CD, which are available now, and CloudBees CI which will be available in Q4 of 2021.
CloudBees now offers feature flag visibility for Jenkins users in the build pipeline within CI jobs. Traditionally, feature flag management and CI have been separate processes and tools, leading to confusion and inefficiencies when updating feature flag statuses and builds. This new integration for Jenkins allows open source users to create, delete or update a flag as part of their CI job. The result is streamlined testing and a greater focus on the end benefits of using feature flags, such as experimentation.
According to Hu Lee, engineering manager at Macmillan Learning, "The first draft of any product is never perfect … but we can slowly make it better, and feature flagging allows us to do that. We can just keep slowly building things out and staging things so that we can keep adding value to the product over time, instead of just an all-at-once shot.”
CloudBees has also added feature flag visibility and control mechanisms into its CD capabilities, including the ability for features to be approved and updated directly from a release pipeline. This enables feature-level release granularity and better communication between development and operation teams on flag status.
"The ability of feature flags to decouple the process of ‘deploy’ from ‘release’ is what makes them powerful, but it can also be a detriment to an organization if not used in a controlled manner,” said
Keswani. “Visibility for everyone involved in the software delivery process – from developer to product owner to release manager – is vital. Now, enterprises can enjoy all of the speed, risk mitigation and experimentation benefits provided by feature flags without any of the downsides. We have always believed enterprise progressive delivery is the future of software delivery at every company, and these enhancements are a critical next step in achieving that vision.”
Ultimately these new feature management capabilities allow teams to manage the complete lifecycle of feature delivery, enabling them to uncouple software deployments from releases, streamline and speed up product innovation, and gain greater control and visibility into their software delivery process.