Large organizations and business enterprises are now taking the Continuous Delivery approach to catch up with the competition – smaller, leaner and innovative start-ups. So, what is Continuous Delivery exactly and how does it help businesses stay competitive? Read on.

Continuous Delivery is a software engineering approach commonly used in DevOps practice in which organizations develop and release quality software in short cycles and at a rapid pace. This is done by automating the software development lifecycle which enables development, testing and release to occur simultaneously.

How it works

 Continuous Delivery uses the deployment pipeline like a lean Poka-Yoke or a set of validations through which a piece of software must pass on its way to release. If further required, the code is accordingly compiled. It is then packaged by a build server when a change is added to the source control repository before being tested and marked for release.

The deployment pipeline has three main components:  Visibility, Feedback, and Continuous Deployment. Visibility includes all aspects of the delivery system including building, deploying, testing, and releasing. It is are visible to the entire team to facilitate collaboration. Feedback allows the team to locate problems as soon as possible and enables them to fix them quickly.  And finally, Continuous Deployment is enabled through an automated process.

Organizations that deploy software more frequently find that they have a greater level of stability and reliability in the systems. Continuous Delivery provides a competitive edge for organizations who invest in it.

Benefits of continuous delivery

Reliable Releases

Continuous Delivery makes software deployments low-risk events that can be performed on demand. The primary goal of continuous delivery is to make software deployments low-risk events that can be performed on demand. The Continuous Delivery approach spots any errors early in the deployment process. As the number of releases increases, the code changes in each release reduce significantly, which enables the rapid detection and solving of any problems.

Building a better product

With Continuous Delivery’s frequent release approach, teams can obtain user feedback more quickly throughout the delivery lifecycle. By using techniques like A/B testing, teams can test certain features with users before building the complete set. This allows them to spot and work on only the most useful features, thereby optimizing their time and build the right product.

Faster time to market

Often the most time-consuming parts of the software delivery lifecycle can be the integration and testing phases, which may stretch over weeks or months.  Developers can incorporate integration and regression testing into their work and thereby reduce the need for additional work cycles or phases solely dedicated to integration etc.

Improved efficiency, productivity, and product quality

Due to the automation of key processes throughout the product delivery lifecycle, continuous delivery offers significant time savings for testers and developers. The product quality improves due to increased and rapid detecting of errors or bugs. This also allows teams to focus on higher level testing like usability testing and performance and security testing. It further allows developers to concentrate on the features that users prefer the most.

Obstacles in implementing Continuous Delivery

It’s not always easy to enforce a continuous delivery approach. There can be a few barriers. For example, in some highly regulated domains, new versions may not be allowed in the operations stage before undergoing extensive testing. Also, some customers may not want continuous updates.

Within the team too, there can be obstacles.  Developers are typically used to a long cycle time and hence will require a change of mindset and approach when working in a continuous delivery environment.  This is because they will need to realize that any code commit could be possibly released to customers at any time during the process. There’s also added pressure of tight deadlines and research schedules.

Adding to the barriers is the possibility of confusion over open source and poor testing methods. Also, when the testing, developing and production environments are not similar, it can lead to errors that could go undetected.

Agile and Continuous Delivery

Enterprises today demand that the software development process should be speedy, efficient and optimized in an environment with increased collaboration and communication. Continuous Delivery helps teams deliver faster in an agile environment thanks to its quick feedback system. Continuous Delivery achieves this by building upon Agile, Continuous Integration and DevOps practices and tools. Good Continuous Delivery practices facilitate an agile environment as software change reaches production more frequently. This, in turn, provides more opportunities for users to give feedback with every change.

At Tricon, we bring together the process of DevOps with software development, quality assurance, agile delivery, Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration and IT operations to help you accelerate development of software and to improve quality. Connect with us today to learn more about how your business can benefit from these practices.