One hundred and four. That's the number to beat.

I use the number 104 because that's the number of keys on a physical keyboard. You know the keyboards I'm talking about.

Not the little touch based ones on your smart phone — the keyboards you use if you write and support the software that runs the Internet and makes it a fun and interesting place to play.

But here's the interesting thing. If you're as old as me or if you just like classic cartoons, you'll remember George Jetson of "The Jetsons" fame only had to press one button.

The Challenge of Manual Deployments

Licking a Tootsie Pop is fun. Manual deployments are not. In fact, to be blunt, they just suck.

The real number of keys you need to push in the case of a manual deployment is probably closer to 5,000 or 10,000. That's a guess, of course, The world will never know the exact number of buttons that must be pressed in a manually processed software deployment.

Why would anyone bother to count? It's not like the Tootsie Pop problem: the licks required to reach the center are good things everyone likes.

The key presses and steps to be followed in a manually driven test and deployment cycle are nothing but pain that typically takes place in the dark of night or the wee hours of the morning. If someone were to count the steps, then someone might have to do something about it.

Some companies have evolved past the parasitic drain that manual deployments can effect upon a software development and operations team. Many more are still struggling to lift themselves out of the hole dug by years of living from hand to mouth and the catechism of "we don't have the time to automate our release and deployment processes."

Most lie in the middle, slowly evolving piece by piece and fighting back with the mantra "we don't have the time not to automate our release and deployment processes."

Map to the Future

So, if an enterprise wants to create its own revolution by evolution, what map can it use to chart it's course? What landmarks exist along the path to the new world? I don't know if there is a one size fits all plan, but here is the inspirational evolutionary model I have adopted:

Many Buttons → "GO" Button → "STOP" Button → No Button