Daimler Trucks North America puts developers in driver’s seat

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As the DevOps guy at Daimler Trucks North America, my vision is to align our IT organization to meet ever increasing application demand from the business. At the same time, my goal in life is to make my people’s lives easier without sacrificing quality, all while improving program speed!

Replacing an unsustainable deployment model

My strategic, long term objective has been to review our day to day operations and find the tools and talents to automate as many of those as possible. One area ripe for innovation and automation was application deployment.

The old deployment model had become unsustainable, particularly in view of the huge and growing demand for new and updated applications. Just looking at our Java middleware team, I can point to example after example of wasted hours.

After installing an application, the team would get a midnight call from someone saying, “Something doesn’t work.”  It might be a coding problem that actually belonged to the developers, but the middleware guy was in the hot seat to make it work. There was no clear path of rolling things back.

DevOps: You build it, you own it

At Daimler Trucks, we’re now moving towards a DevOps model, which is all about application deployment automation. The first rule of DevOps is “you build it, you own it.” Everyone is responsible for their own piece of the puzzle.

Developers become the owners of their products instead of just passing them down the line to the middleware engineers to deploy. And this starts with a tool that lets the developers code and deploy at will.  That’s where IBM UrbanCode Deploy comes in.

With UrbanCode Deploy, we are able to give the key to developers, who become truly responsible for their product. If they push an application forward and it doesn’t work, the middleware team doesn’t get the call in the middle of the night. The developers get that call.

Automation saves thousands of hours

UrbanCode Deploy has an automatic rollback function, so the developers can go in and fix the bugs and try again. Now the developers manage the process. They own the application; it’s their product.

This was unheard of with the old model where our middleware team did everyone’s deployments by hand. We didn’t even know how much total time we spent on them, because there was no count. But each deployment took at least an hour, whether it was the initial installation or an update.

In the first eight months of using UrbanCode Deploy, we deployed more than 3,000 Java-based applications. Each took about four minutes. That shows me that we’ve already saved nearly 3,000 hours by automating the process.

UrbanCode Deploy: improving quality, changing culture

By aligning the technology with the right people, we are streamlining the organization. Yes, we’re speeding up the process, which is critical as demand is only increasing. But we’re also improving the quality of our applications because we can roll back apps and quickly find problems and deploy patches and fixes.

Companies that don’t adopt a DevOps model risk going the way of now-defunct video rental and electronics store chains. I’m not saying that we will disappear, but poor or buggy application deployment and slow fixes do have a business impact. For example, there’s a ripple effect if an application that manages dealership parts inventory is flawed. Trucks get stuck in the shop and can’t go out.  The fleet is paying for trucks that aren’t making money and we are losing money because we can’t sell the parts.

Deployment automation is also helping change our culture, particularly with developers. It helps break down the old barriers between developers and other IT professionals within the company. I would say that anyone using DevOps and UrbanCode Deploy should be ready for a big culture change and shift, and, frankly, happier people at the end of the day.


Learn more about IBM industry solutions for the automotive industry: https://www-935.ibm.com/industries/automotive/

See how Daimler Trucks North America is speeding application deployment using UrbanCode Deploy by watching the video interview below with Nick Wylde:

Technical Analyst, Daimler Trucks North America

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