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FundGuard Tech Talk: Dispelling the Myths About Frequent Software Updates

Recently, we published an article on leveraging blue-green deployment for investment accounting and the benefits of more frequent software updates.  


And while the article addressed the value of blue-green software deployment, it perhaps did not answer one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive specific to FundGuard’s approach:


Do I need to adhere to FundGuard’s schedule for monthly software updates? 


The anxiety surrounding more frequent software updates is perfectly understandable in the context of legacy technology. 


These out-of-date systems cause software development and deployment to be a time and resource-consuming hassle, making the idea of more frequent software updates seem daunting. 


Yet, this is the very problem that blue-green deployment solves. 


By leveraging blue-green deployment, asset managers can update software more frequently – whether monthly or otherwise – with greater ease and efficiency, and without having to overextend their staff or resources. 


Join us today for a conversation with FundGuard’s CTO, Yaniv Zecharya, as he explains just how, exactly, this is achieved. 


FG: What are the Benefits of FundGuard’s Monthly Update Cycles? 


YZ: While software updates performed by legacy systems can take a long time to complete and result in unwanted downtime for your business, cloud-native solutions, by comparison, provide organizations with a more robust digital infrastructure capable of supporting improved development environments. 


The Monthly Software Release Schedule Explained


FG: When we talk about blue-green deployment, the conversation is often coupled with anxiety over having to adhere to an update frequency that exceeds the industry norm of once every year or even every couple of years. What is the catalyst for these concerns? 


YZ: For clients used to legacy technology, monthly (or regular) software updates can seem like a disadvantage, as their current software deployment strategy likely requires significant manpower and developmental effort. As a result, the concept of monthly releases can feel like a downside to adopting the blue-green deployment method. 

Yet, the ability to efficiently and effectively orchestrate more frequent software updates is one of the key advantages of blue-green deployment. Since there is always a new version of software being developed, tested, and validated in the green environment, software updates can be more frequent and simplified.


To better illustrate this, picture your business software as a train journeying down its tracks. With a more frequent updating schedule, this train has three main stops:


  • Pre-Release: The first stop for your software train is the pre-release stage. In blue-green deployment, two versions of a software environment exist — the live version available to customers (the blue environment) and a new version that is not yet available to customers (the green environment). When software is in this green environment, it has not yet been publicly released, allowing it to be tested by developers, as well as allowing customers to provide feedback or requests for changes to the new version before it goes live. At this phase, the new version is available for customer testing and we also provide recon reports between the green and the blue. 
  • Production: The second stop on your software train’s journey is the production stage. This is when the version of the software in the green environment is validated and approved, moving it into the blue environment and making it accessible to customers. At this point in the process is when we begin the development of the next new version of the software, placing that new version in the green environment. You can think of this as the backup train that is ready to pick up where the current train leaves off once it reaches its third and final stop — retirement. 
  • Retirement: The last stop for your software train is retirement. After being moved from the green environment to the blue environment, this version of the software remains live and accessible to customers in the blue environment until the new version is ready for deployment, at which point the current version is retired. Thanks to the backup train starting its journey once the original train reaches production, the older version of the software can be easily retired without requiring additional downtime or developmental effort. 

These three steps operate in a loop, rather than as a more linear process. Circling back to the train analogy, blue-green deployment paired with regular updates ensures that there is always a new train ready to make the appropriate stops, even when the original train has been retired. 


Achieving Smaller & Less Risky Software Changes with Monthly Updates


FG: Aside from reduced downtime, what is the next biggest advantage of monthly updates? 

YZ: Reduced risk. A common myth regarding monthly updates is that they present more business risks, as they require additional developmental effort and manpower to complete. Yet, this is only the case if a business is relying on outdated technology and not at all the story when it comes to cloud-based solutions. 

When software updates are completed on a more frequent basis, developers have greater opportunities to identify and fix small issues before they become bigger problems. 


Moreover, this greater frequency of updates enables asset managers to gather client feedback and apply it to their green environments, enabling these changes to be brought about quickly to satisfy clients. 


Applying small changes and updates gradually over time ultimately reduces the amount of work, resources, and capital required to perform annual software updates. 


Do Monthly Software Updates Include End-of-Year Months & Holidays? 

FG: One key concern clients regularly express regarding monthly software updates is uncertainty over carrying out those updates during traditional busy periods or rest periods (for example, December and August). How do you respond to this valid concern?


YZ: The end of year period can be tricky for financial services firms for many reasons, including several holidays falling within this period. As a result, the firm may not have adequate staff to assist with updating and deployment activities, putting the firm at a disadvantage for quick deployments. 


Additionally, these months are often crucial for accounting and tax preparation, which can put further strain on team members and divert more attention away from business innovation. 


We have a deep understanding of our industry, which is why when we say frequent updates, we really mean 9-times-a-year updates. We take into account client feedback, couple it with our understanding of busy and rest periods, and ensure updates take place at the optimal time for our clients. 


However, in truth, these concerns over the end-of-year months can actually be eased by monthly software updates.


With a regular monthly update schedule in place, it is far easier to handle any potential issues during times when fewer staff are available to assign specific tasks. 


For example, when a firm deploys monthly updates regularly, this minimizes the chance for bugs, errors, or other issues to occur. Even if these issues occur, the frequency of the updates ensures these problems are handled swiftly.


In turn, at the end of the year, no major software updates are needed, as most have already been handled. Your system remains in good condition and up-to-date thanks to the frequent updates throughout the year, and this all makes taking care of end of year accounts an easy, seamless process.  


Leveraging Monthly Software Updates: The “Patch Tuesday” Use Case


FG: There’s no denying that the financial services industry is still in the process of moving away from cumbersome legacy systems, but for many other industries who have already realized the advantages of cloud-native technology, the blue-green deployment concept is not a new idea. 


Industries that have always been more tech-centric have long been in on the secret of monthly software updates — with some even favoring more frequent updates that occur multiple times per month. Are there current examples in the industry where monthly updates can be not only efficient but highly beneficial?


YZ: To examine this further, let’s look at the use case of “Patch Tuesday.”

Patch Tuesday is widely known in the software industry as the time when several major software companies release their monthly updates. 


The phrase gets its name due to these monthly deployments often being scheduled on the second Tuesday of every month. Some companies choose to have a bi-monthly Patch Tuesday, with updates occurring on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. The updates released during Patch Tuesday are often fixes for bugs and other functional issues, hence the inclusion of the word “patch” in the name. 


A primary benefit of Patch Tuesday for software developers is that it gives them the opportunity to fix any potential security problems in a shorter time frame. Rather than having to scramble to get a temporary development team together to solve security issues, a monthly update strategy ensures the right talent and resources are always ready to address software problems as they occur.


This can be an especially crucial advantage for the asset management industry, as asset managers deal with sensitive financial information that needs to be kept secure at all times. 


FundGuard is Building Better Software Updates for Asset Managers


Here at FundGuard, our team is working diligently to improve software updates for asset managers and their service providers. 


To ensure firms are not overburdened by software development and testing responsibilities, FundGuard manages these processes according to the specifications of each individual client. We leverage the cloud to enable seamless updates using blue-green deployment. 


The industry is long overdue for operational transformation. Our clients are shaping the future of investment accounting and will be the first to see the benefits of a high-quality utility that is informed by cross-industry collaboration, removes the pain and risk of back-office processes and frees up time and resources for true differentiators.


Schedule a meeting with FundGuard today to learn more about all-in-one investment accounting solutions.


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