Here on the Skytap engineering team, we recently switched to a monthly release cycle. Our aim is to iterate quickly, release every month, and loop back with customers to make sure we continue to delight them. To illustrate the benefits of such a rapid cycle, I’d like to make an aquatic analogy:

Imagine a muddy ocean with little visibility. Your customers are boating on the surface. You can only write code underwater, but you need to come to the surface to ship it (no pun intended). If you dive down for more than a minute you’ll drown, so you need something to keep you alive while you’re underwater. The technology you choose to keep you alive down there will make an enormous impact on what your software looks like when you come back up to the surface.

You can pick a snorkel or a submarine. Most peoples’ instinct would be “duh, give me the submarine!” But think about it for a second. A submarine needs fuel and a crew. It’s also expensive. And when you’re submerged for weeks on end, what happens to life on the surface? Customers might motor away, they might be shouting “hey come back up here, we changed our mind about Widget X!” The whole world might change while you’re underwater.

In the shrink-wrapped software world, the submarine used to be a necessity. It’s just not possible to ship a new box of software every month. But with software-as-a-service, you can ship as often as you’d like. Our friends up the hill at iLike have a release every week!

That’s why we say “pick the snorkel.” We can dive down and surface quickly, we can swim from customer to customer to get feedback, releasing software unencumbered by excessive process and lengthy development cycles. The net result is customers who are more likely to recommend our virtual lab solution to friends and colleagues. At the end of the day, that’s our goal – successful and enthused customers!