Continuous Delivery (CD) is the next step in the evolution of the software development process. It draws on Agile methodologies, but surpasses it. CD is changing the way software is delivered and opening up a whole range of benefits, ranging from greater adaptability to more reliable products to improved customer experiences.
Instead of deploying a large release once a year or once every few years, which results in time-intensive fixes, CD is about delivering smaller changes more frequently.
But what if CD means sacrificing quality for speed? Does it really CD lead to both higher responsiveness and higher reliability? Let’s find out if it really enables you to get better products to your customers more often.
What is it?
CD is a methodology that focuses on smaller releases more often to avoid the issues and bugs that come with large, slow releases. CD can actually make your software development more agile and more able to react to changes. CD comes with quicker reaction times, less risk and more flexible release options. It also identifies inefficiencies and hidden costs.
Considering the rapid pace of technological innovation, and consumers’ rising expectations for quality products, it makes sense to evaluate and modernize software delivery processes to keep pace with these developments.
How it works
CD, which relies on automated testing in production environments, integrates Continuous Integration (CI) practices. CI is an essential component and first step in the CD pipeline. CI has every developer continually integrate with all other developers.
A CD methodology continuously tests, analyzes and improves software quality. Importantly, this happens during all phases of the development lifecycle, instead of Agile’s approach of waiting until the end. Similarly, it also involves testing and Quality Assurance throughout the process.
When CD is well executed, it gives organization a vast number of benefits:
DevOps/BizDevOps and CD
Much more than just combining development and operations, DevOps is a set of practices aimed at breaking down silos. BizDevOps is the next phase: it adds in business teams for further integration. CD therefore is a natural complement to BizDevOps.
One of the benefits of DevOps is its use of CD. But for CD to be effective, it needs to be adopted beyond just the development and operations teams. High-performing companies adopt CD practices across all products and services.
Continuous Deployment vs. CD
Unlike continuous deployment, which deploys each change into production on a very frequent schedule, CD ensures that the software is deployable at any point during its lifecycle.
You can deploy to users with the push of a button. CD aims to automate the software delivery lifecycle until right before production; continuous deployment automatically deploys every code that passes the tests to production.
How to implement CD
It goes without saying, but the basics are important when you are first setting up a transition to CD.
- You need to evaluate what it will take, as well as review overall strategies and stakeholders’ goals.
- Next, draw up a schedule of builds and maintenance release cycles; review builds’ dependency management; and identify any gaps in technologies, tools and processes.
- The next major phase involves CI and further defining the process. Develop a CI workflow and document the design flow. It should contain branching strategies, merging strategies, dependencies and multi-site coordination.
- Choose CI technologies and tools.
- Determine and document the timing for automation; with test automation, release cycles are shortened.
You’re almost there! Now it’s on to the deployment. Key steps include: breaking down the CI workflow into steps, automating the software builds, using a CI framework or building an automation tool to develop the packaging deployment scripts, and consistent reporting and tracking so as to facilitate troubleshooting.
When is Agile a better option than CD?
There are some circumstances where Agile may be more appropriate than CD. Those circumstances include:
- There is no time, ability or budget for automating testing
- Your company needs a specific plan and timeframe, as well as clarity on release date
- Your customers value seeing a long-term plan more than they value regular updates
- Company executives have not yet bought into scaling up DevOps
- Your company is not set up to make the cultural and technical shifts to CD quite yet
- Projects that expect few changes
Want to get ahead of the curve and see if your company can benefit from CD? Contact Ciklum today!