Release: Limitless environments so developers never have to wait to ship code
When I first heard Release’s pitch for their “Environments-as-a-Service” platform, which lets developers easily replicate production environments on demand, it immediately struck a chord. In my last “real job” before I became a VC, I was at a small startup of 25 people — and 3 of them were DevOps engineers, dedicated full-time to managing our production and staging environments.
Such environments are critical for both risk reduction and better collaboration in the software development life cycle. Every PM and designer has heard the words “it works on my machine” from one of their engineering counterparts after a new feature gets released and an unexpected problem crops up; a developer’s local environment is never the same as an application’s production environment, and new software behaves differently once pushed to customers. Frequent code merges makes collaborations between PMs, designers, engineers and QA more central than ever, and looking over the engineers shoulder to see what they are coding, simply doesn’t cut it. Hence — having easy access to pre-production environments is a must.
Yet the DevOps practice of creating and managing multiple environments remains a highly manual process, particularly as companies navigate the growing complexity of microservices and the cloud. As a result, many companies carefully ration access to environments, requiring teams to sign up for time slots. The result is a bottleneck in the software development lifecycle.
Release founders Tommy McClung, Erik Landerholm and David Giffin felt that pain firsthand while leading the technology team at TrueCar — and when they didn’t find the solution they needed in the market, they decided to build it themselves. By creating a full-stack environment with every pull request, their product allows a team to test and verify in an isolated but exact replica of its production environment, eliminating a labor-intensive headache with a single click.
And the possibilities don’t end there. As I have been working with Release, I was reminded of my previous experience at VMware, which invented virtual machines that were easier to provision — and orders of magnitude cheaper — than physical servers. Once the bottleneck of physical hardware was removed, VMware customers found countless uses for virtual machines we had never anticipated — including disaster recovery and hot standbys. Likewise, some Release customers have already discovered that it’s much easier to manage not only staging but production environments through the platform. What’s more, environments as a service can be a transformational tool for go-to-market operations, such as on-demand sales demos and distributing software to a customer’s virtual private cloud.
As Release celebrates general availability of their innovative Environments-as-a-Service offering and begins to grow their team, we at Sequoia are pleased to lead their seed. We look forward to partnering with Tommy, Erik, David and the team on the road ahead — as they bring better, faster software development to every Release customer.