(A talk given at PIPELINE Conference – March 2018 – Escaping 5 decades of monolithic annual releases  – https://pipelineconf.info/speakers/)

“In this presentation, I will present lessons learned in moving from a large and monolithic 4-month long, annual release process for a software suite comprising numerous desktop applications and a large database.

Our context:
* a 52-year old database
* 3 million lines of C++
* One-year release cycle
* Very expensive manual testing
* Half our C++ developers are tied up for 4 months on one release!
* Result: critical bugs and high stress

A glimmer of hope:
* New test hardware, with efficient set-up process
* Automation of “smoke” tests
* Days of manual testing reduced to hours

Lessons learned – things to share:
* Forget abstract discussions about the benefits of automation
* Instead, empower teams to make incremental improvements
* And crucially, have them demo the benefits to internal stakeholders
* Use the pain of a difficult release to justify major improvements
* Just do it! Or just get started!
* And don’t wait for permission to make improvements!”

Clare has worked in technology for over 30 years, and is a Principal Scientific Software Engineer at Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre. She currently leads the team that’s replacing their 30 year old database format. When not thinking about supporting teams to streamline development and releases, she spends time with family and friends, and more recently, also contributes C++ code to the CycleStreets journey planner.