At the heart of the rapid pace of the software, transformation is another trend that has become hugely popular in its own right. The rise of continuous delivery has enabled software companies to bring their ideas to life faster than ever before.
Let’s take a closer look at this software development practice and discuss how you can best implement it.
So what is continuous delivery?
Continuous delivery means that, by default, your software assembly is “ready to deploy.” Each new source code update is automatically tested, generated, and configured for deployment. This process makes deployment predictable and routine that can be done immediately. Here’s a great tutorial on continuous delivery and its counterparts, continuous integration, and continuous deployment.
Until there was continuous delivery, software releases would create huge bottlenecks for application teams and operations. Teams will be so supportive and under tremendous time pressure that releases are usually either delayed or contain a series of bugs. For an increasing number of teams adopting both a DevOps mentality and a continuous delivery strategy, those stressful days are long gone.
Continuous delivery is often confused with continuous deployment, but the two methodologies differ significantly. When a team subscribes to continuous deployment, each change goes through the testing pipeline and is automatically released to production. This results in a series of incremental deployments happening every day. With continuous delivery, you have the ability and confidence to automatically release every change, but instead, choose to manually deploy.
How is continuous delivery useful?
More frequent deployments
Continuous delivery was designed with speed in mind. Each new version of the software is automatically created, tested, and prepared for deployment, even if you choose not to deploy continuously. You will also save time by identifying bugs before deploying them, which we’ll talk about below.
Fewer errors with every deployment
CD not only speeds up deployment but also reduces the risk of incorrect deployment. The likelihood of errors occurring throughout the entire process is much less, and it becomes much easier to identify errors when they do occur.
The best scenario is to find bugs before a new version is released. Continuous delivery allows you to do this because the software is constantly in a production environment, ready to be deployed. This helps teams avoid last-minute disruptions and stay on schedule.
Faster customer feedback
Continuous delivery leads to more deployments, which means more frequent customer feedback. Imagine spending a year doing a massive software update and the user completely hates it (or worse, doesn’t care at all). CD helps you spend less time on fast learning if you make changes your customers care about. This is where Agile is also incredibly useful.
Understanding the Differences Between Continuous Delivery, Deployment, and Integration
The terms continuous delivery (CD) and continuous integration (CI) are often used interchangeably. However, there are clear differences between them. Not even mentioning the differences with continuous deployment.
First, continuous integration aims to check in changes to the main branch as often as possible. This means that the application will be built and tested for every small increment of code. It allows developers to quickly get feedback on the quality of their code. Therefore, continuous integration is usually associated with an agile approach to software development. Now let’s find out how continuous delivery is different.
Finally, continuous deployment is about automating the entire software delivery process. What do we want to achieve here? We want to automate every step of the deployment process down to production. This means that continuous deployment tests the code for different environments and ultimately deploys the application to production. Of course, the process stops if some tests fail in a particular environment. In short, continuous deployment is ideal for shortening the customer feedback loop.
Implementing continuous delivery
The continuous delivery process begins with another popular software development practice: continuous integration. Continuous Integration means that new code from each developer is merged in real-time, ensuring that new changes work together in a production environment. We see many customers using tools like Jenkins or Bamboo to optimize continuous integration and continuous delivery processes.
The next step in the CD process is quality assurance. Teams will roll out the deployment in stages to users who try new versions and provide quality control. These “deployment rings” or milestones are production-like environments that give you an idea of exactly how your deployments will perform in a production environment.
When it comes to testing, many teams adhere to the “fail fast” principle. This means that the tests that most likely will not pass the fastest are run first, and the longer tests run only after the tests “fail quickly”. This allows teams to immediately identify quick fixes and then begin work on the next deployment as longer tests progress.
Monitoring and continuous delivery
Monitoring is an important element of continuous delivery, but manual monitoring can be complex and time-consuming. Using an application deployment or monitoring tool makes it easy to track software metrics and KPIs. When you see a pop-up red flag, whether it’s boot time or server load, you can quickly determine which release caused the error. From there, just roll back the last deployment and send it back to the queue.
Continuous delivery is a win-win
Continuous delivery is becoming a bet for software companies. To put it bluntly, those who don’t move to a faster, more flexible software development process will die.
Luckily, there is a fleet of tools and a community of helpful experts to help you build a more seamless development cycle. So move faster, break (less) things and change the world by updating one software at a time. If you think that you lack the experience to cope with the task, do not hesitate to contact our expert.