SheerID Accelerates Deployments by 35X, Eliminates Burden On Developers by Using Harness

Using Harness, SheerID accelerated deployment velocity, increased developer productivity— allowing more time to focus on innovation— and successfully implemented canary releases during its transition to a continuous deployment cycle.

Meg Maxwell

Harness Impact

  • Accelerated deployments by 35X, from 1 per week to 7 per day
  • Cut deployment effort by 35-40 hours per week

About SheerID

SheerID collaborates with leading B2C brands in retail, media,telco, consumer apps, travel and hospitality and software. Their solution enables brands to instantly verify eligible consumers in high-value communities like students, teachers and the military for gated, personalized offers. SheerID has conducted over 135 million verifications for more than 300 brands as of April 2023, preventing several billion dollars in fraud within the last year. 

Challenge: Even With Kubernetes, Deployments Were Too Complex

SheerID is a fast-moving technology company, constantly looking for ways to move even faster. However, their development process faced a bottleneck due to a monolithic application that limited their team to bi-monthly deployments. Deployments involved a manual process conducted by a central release team, requiring nearly 17 hours of preparation. Furthermore, scaling up was challenging, as spinning up an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance took approximately 15 minutes. This slowed growth and hindered the company's ability to expand into new regions and industries. Additionally, this hampered a move to support a multi-cloud deployment strategy across both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

“Our deployment process was slow and difficult,” recalled David Ellis, Principal Engineer at SheerID. “We wanted to move to microservices, leverage Kubernetes, and get down to very simple, understandable automated continuous deployment processes.”

Creating a continuous deployment process was the ultimate goal, but SheerID had to move in phases to get there. They started by breaking the monolithic application into services and utilizing Jenkins and Kubernetes for their services deployments. This allowed SheerID to successfully transition from a centralized release team to a self-service model owned by their development teams. The shift empowered their teams to take ownership of the deployment process and reduced the deployment time, enabling SheerID to push releases weekly.

“We had four development teams and an additional ops team releasing code and microservices using several Jenkins instances. While it helped to reduce the deployment time, it also created its own challenges with usability, complexity, instability, secrets management, and more. Developers had to log in to many Jenkins instances for their deployments, occasionally missing environments in deployment targets, resulting in inconsistencies. There was too much overhead and it was eating into developers’ time,” Ellis added. He knew they had to do more to take time and effort out of deployments so that developers could focus on features.

“We needed to move faster. We needed to deploy and fix problems faster. We needed an automated, repeatable, reliable, deployment solution that freed developers to just worry about their code,” said Ellis.

Solution: Pipeline Automation, Canaries, and Visibility, All In One 

SheerID started looking for continuous deployment solutions. The team explored CircleCI as an option, but found it came with a substantial cost. After a brief demo of the Harness platform, SheerID was convinced of the value of investing in a software delivery platform.

“Harness showed us they could fix all the pain points our developers were feeling,” said Ellis. “The platform really fit the bill for what we needed and had a lot of really exciting capabilities for automation, such as canary releases and increased visibility into our deployment process.”

Ellis elaborated on the capabilities that have accelerated deployments at SheerID: 

  1. The automated pipeline in the Harness platform automatically runs tests as a quality gate to align developers and QA even more closely. “Automated testing was a big QA goal for us as we couldn’t do it in the past. With Harness pipelines, we can do it out of the box,” said Ellis. 
  2. Harness canary releases combined with continuous verification empowered SheerID to turn on continuous deployment. This made sure of a stable release process and fulfilled customers’ expectations that the application will be up.
  3. Harness provides visibility into logs, metrics, and latency to improve overall quality. “Visibility into deployment metrics is highly impactful for security, stability, and simply making sure that we were always shipping great code,” Ellis added.

Within six months, SheerID was automating deployments using the Harness platform. 

Results: Continuous Deployment With Harness

By using Harness to automate deployments and eliminate most of the Jenkins burden from developers, SheerID has drastically reduced deployment times while also drastically increasing deployment frequency by 35X. 

“Harness took us from once a week deployment to continuous deployment, where we are going to production multiple times a day using a fully automated process,” said Ellis. “With Harness, we’ve been averaging seven production releases a day this year.” Ellis estimates Harness is saving nearly a full-time employee’s efforts, about 40 hours a week.

“I think back to how it was before Harness,” Ellis explained. “Developers had to log into a bunch of Jenkins, click through, run tests, check logs every day. That eats up a lot of time. Harness gave a lot of time back to our teams. It’s like we hired an entire developer without hiring an entire developer.”

Harness is also saving time and effort for SheerID with automated canary releases. This increased the team’s confidence in deployments, so if a problem arises, developers simply roll it back and flag it for the engineering team.

“Deployment frequency, freed-up development time, standardized delivery process, better testing, canary releases— these are all things Harness brought to us. Our developer experience has improved and our devs are happier for it,” Ellis concluded.

SheerID has realized time savings and improved deployment quality using the Harness platform. In combination with a multi-cloud deployment strategy, SheerID’s teams can focus on what matters most— deploying new features quickly with confidence and expanding to new regions and industries.

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