Gordmans is a publicly-traded, fast-growing apparel and fashion retailer headquartered in the Midwest United States, with almost 100 locations in 19 states. The IT organization within Gordmans has responsibility for supporting its rapid business growth while maintaining software and service quality and addressing new requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, that come with being a public company. Additional projects combined with daily support for merchandising, financial, and store operations create an ongoing need to work more efficiently in areas like application development and deployment.
Gordmans wanted to improve the process for designing, developing, and deploying code— the entire application release process. The new approach needed to address compliance requirements along with a broader objective to have a more consistent and scalable process for managing and releasing software changes. Gordmans had historically used a collection of open source tools like Bugzilla, Subversion, Maven, and Hudson along with custom scripts for application version control, build, and deployment. To achieve the desired tracking and change verification, Gordmans concluded it would take significant incremental IT staffing in development, test, and release using its mix of tools and current process. Instead, the company decided a new solution was required that addressed several stages of the application lifecycle to make change release handoffs more consistent.
After evaluating several options, the company felt that Serena (now part of Micro Focus) offered the best end-to-end release management solution available in the market. The immediate pain that needed to be addressed was in the area of application release automation, and Gordmans evaluated Micro Focus and three other vendors. Gordmans found that two of the vendors’ products were not as mature and lacked the enterprise-class integration features required. The third vendor, already used by Gordmans, had a release automation offering but was limited to a subset of the needed functionality. Micro Focus Deployment Automation combined scheduling with process automation and an artifact repository to create a more complete release automation solution.
In addition, Deployment Automation was integrated with Development Manager. This was a key differentiator for Gordmans because it provided the flexibility to add future functionality to track and manage bugs fixes and change requests, build, test, and deploy in an automated, consistent, and controlled way. Combining Deployment Automation with Micro Focus Development Manager created a full release management solution for Gordmans. “Serena (now part of Micro Focus) Deployment Automation provides Gordmans with enterprise-class, develop-to-deploy release management and gives us the visibility, tracking, and deployment automation capability we require,” says Derek Pecka, Retail Systems and Information Security Manager.
The company expects significant improvements from the release management solution. Gordmans now has visibility into all aspects of an application release, from project initiation through development, test, and deployment. Changes can be tracked to specific developers and then mapped to specific code check-ins. These changes can then be associated with application deployments for lifecycle traceability and accountability.
Previously, a production application or service would have been working for years and then unexpectedly stop working after an application release. This raised the question, “What happened?” Gordmans now has the traceability to answer that question. Additionally, the code deployment scheduling capability of release automation will preclude the need for associates to attend releases during late-night hours.
In terms of anticipated time savings, one example is JBoss deployments. With the new process and Micro Focus solution, JBoss deployments now go from three hours per week to zero. These savings also result in quicker ERP batch processing times, which means that critical business software is available in a more timely and consistent manner.
In the months ahead, Gordmans anticipates saving thousands of hours of work annually by extending the Deployment Automation solution to other areas such as its point-of-sale environment.