Continuous Deployment: How To Stay Ahead of The Game
Stay a step in front of your competition by creating applications that are always ready to be released.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
The software development process has progressed significantly in recent years, and with it, coding has had to evolve to keep up with the increasing ubiquity of software in the enterprise. Integration and development, key infrastructure topics, are such examples. And due to the progress of DevOps, the CI/CD pipeline is being used universally in software companies.
You may also enjoy: What Is Continuous Deployment? Everything You Need to Know
Comparing CI/CD and Continuous Deployment: There’s More than Meets the Eye
Continuous integration (CI) requires code to be integrated into a shared repository several times a day by developers. Each check-in is then verified by an automated build to detect early problems. The team of developers also needs to integrate the different features before the release is ready. By integrating frequently, teams can detect errors earlier, and the amount of backtracking needed to find their cause is reduced allowing your team to resolve errors much faster.
Continuous delivery (CD) is about ensuring that every good build is potentially ready for production release. It is not recommended to have every build turn into an actual release, so a slightly different definition is needed for structures that can potentially be releases but need not be automatically set up – hence the existence of “continuous delivery.” Joined with continuous integration, these stages form the typical CI/CD pipeline.
CI/CD is the process that takes place from coding to artefact creation and storage into an artefact repository. On the contrary, continuous deployment signifies software that has surpassed the automated tests being released into production. When there are releases, there will be deployment steps, and these tend to repeat for each release. Subsequently, instead of executing this manually, businesses should contemplate enabling the deployment steps to be implemented automatically. Though it can be shortened to the same initials, continuous deployment should not be muddled for continuous delivery. Continuous deployment is about automating the release of a good build to the production environment.
Allow Your Continuous Deployment to Thrive
Amalgamating both CI/CD and continuous deployment into a continuous pipeline establishes visibility and strengthens communication between the development and operations teams, especially around building, testing and deploying software. As each organization has its own procedures, with governance and compliance that need to be incorporated. No two pipelines will be a replicate of each other; however, there are some overall benefits of integrating continuous deployment, including:
- Resources that concentrate on what matters – You always need to juggle resources (developers, budget, time) within the limitations of the business. By automating processes and delegating that to the pipeline, you not only free up precious developer resources for actual product development tasks, but you also reduce the chances of error.
- Improved dependability – Most deployment pipelines from ideation to production require a series of steps. However, by shifting the deployment oriented tasks left, through proper CI/CD and continuous deployment practices, it will enable the team to test the accessibility of the product at a considerably faster and more efficient rate compared to not having a pipeline.
- Attracts prospective developers – With the knowledge that developers are hard to find and hire, it’s crucial that you do your best to make your team attractive to potential hires. When you implement standard practices with a proper CI/CD and continuous deployment pipeline, you are showing your potential recruits that they are joining a high-functioning team.
Usually, companies should avoid building their own continuous deployment workflow orchestration software internally unless it’s the product they’re selling to customers. However, many companies deny they build it themselves, and they forget about the number of scripts they input into their current CI server. This essentially means they are using it in unnatural ways.
The main reason for having a pipeline is to make integration and deployment work simple and reliable, and the same intention applies to avoid building the software from scratch. It is not worth using up the valuable time of your developers to create this software – instead, invest in good, tailor-made tools such as application release orchestration that can provide the value that you need.
Release automation and release orchestration are two methods that need to work effectively in order for this to work. Application Release Automation (ARA) tools perform the packaging, versioning, and deployment of application-related artefacts with a large number of rapid, small releases across physical servers, clouds, and containers. They replace scripted deployment practices with a model-driven design and coordinate releases across teams. ARA tools track application configurations and the inventory of an endpoint. ARA tools improve the speed and quality of software updates and serve as the continuous deployment solution in pipelines.
Application Release Orchestration (ARO), on the other hand, serves to compress the tasks completed in traditional waterfall practices into an Agile cadence improving the speed, governance, and visibility of the software lifecycle. These tools serve the enterprise and support multi-generational teams from legacy through modern architecture. It essentially controls the pipeline, and encompassing this into your delivery lifecycle means that the whole project stays on track.
Turn Into the Metrics Expert
Understanding the fundamentals of all of this provides businesses with a foundation for not only understanding the other connected concepts, like a CI/CD and continuous deployment pipeline, but also for understanding how having an efficient pipeline can bring your IT team on par with the most successful companies in the software industry.
According to the state of DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) report 2018, the metrics of delivery are:
- Deployment frequency: this is how frequently you can push builds into production
- Lead time for changes: this is how long it takes to work on a build until it gets into production
- Failure rate: this is how frequently a deployment fails, e.g. a n outage or a patch required
- Recovery rate: this is the mean time to recover (MTTR) from a failed deployment or an outage for example
If your team already has a CI/CD and continuous deployment pipeline in place, your aim therefore is to speed it up and improve the quality. To achieve this, you need to have metrics in place that act as a reference – after all, you can’t improve if you can’t measure.
It’s important to remember that the primary aim for continuous deployment is speed. Senior management will appreciate that you made the essential changes for the company, especially when the team really starts to notice the increase in pace or how much time their saving with their tasks. If your team hasn’t started reaping the benefits of CI/CD with continuous deployment, then there’s no better time to start than now.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.