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InfoQ Homepage News ZeroTurnaround Discontinues LiveRebel, Market not Ready for Release Automation

ZeroTurnaround Discontinues LiveRebel, Market not Ready for Release Automation

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ZeroTurnaround has announced the discontinuation of their application release automation product, LiveRebel, claiming that the release automation market is not big enough because it is not one of the top problems that teams face, and there is no clear picture of what release management should be.

According to Jevgeni Kabanov, ZeroTurnararound CEO, who we interviewed last March, there are two main reasons why the mid-market was not very good for them.

Firstly, there is no agreement on what release management should even look like:

Continuous Delivery and DevOps movements had some ideas, but the approaches were wildly different. Virtual images, microcontainers, configuration management and build servers were all used for release orchestration. Even then, our typical competitor was still just a bunch of bash scripts with a wiki.

And secondly, release management was not anywhere near the top problems for a typical potential customer:

Release management provides little value if you don’t have automated builds, provisioning and a well-defined release process and unfortunately most potential customers would have none of those.

After version 3.0, just released at the beginning of 2014, the company had it clear that the market conditions were not good for the product:

The deals we were closing were folks who have solved these issues, but stopped short from scripting out their release process or were for some reason unhappy with their scripts. After the LiveRebel 3.0 release, which removed most other reasons the deals wouldn’t succeed, it became increasingly clear that current market conditions do not support the sale of LiveRebel as a product.

InfoQ has talked to Jevgeni Kabanov about his opinion on the market:

Do you imply that the higher market with over hundreds of servers is more receptive to orchestration solutions? is it just because the volume or the multiple heterogeneous environments?

I believe so, but not because of the volume of the environments. Rather, larger companies are used to putting rigorous processes in place and can decide to standardise on one customised solution throughout the business. The lack of established process is what kills the opportunity in the mid-market more than anything else.

Did you find that larger companies had automated builds, provisioning and a well-defined release process, and not the smaller companies? Or is it a matter of being a newer company or startup, that does not have to deal with so much legacy, vs established companies?

It depended heavily on how organised the company was. It depended much more on the industry than on anything else. E.g. SaaS companies would typically be more organised than almost anyone else, because both their development and their operations are business critical. The less important IT was to the business, the less attention would the delivery process get.

Given that you mention that your typical competitor was still "just a bunch of bash scripts with a wiki", do you think more lower level tools like Rundeck will win over tools like Puppet or Chef that forces people to learn a "new way" of doing things?

I think there are multiple segments in that market and it will accommodate all kinds of tools. It is hard to think that e.g. a highly regulated financial institution ran by MBAs, a tech startup in the Bay Area ran by 19-year old and a steel mill with outsourced IT will all need the same solution. Processes vary greatly and technology must follow suit.

ZeroTurnaround focus is now dedicated to the development tools market for the near future, building technologies centered around developers and continuing with their JRebel and XRebel products.

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