5 Ways to Use Continuous Delivery
Most IT companies often experiment with new techniques and methods of software delivery to find convenient ways of increasing their both work efficiency and corporate productivity. In this article, we will cover the advantages of the continuous delivery in programming.
In 2015, The Guardian published an article where they told about their experience of adopting a continuous delivery by their software development department. They pointed out that before moving to this principle, their production release was quite slow. This process included a lot of the regression testing work, checking features, and comparing changes by those specialists that had nothing to do with those changes.
This approach also had another significant drawback: to make an urgent change, developers at The Guardian had to communicate with multiple branches which could cause numerous issues related to meeting previously set deadlines. Once they began to use continuous delivery, they got numerous benefits including the ones covered below.
What Is Continuous Delivery?
Continuous delivery is a special DevOps technique in software development. It implies the automated testing, and preparation of code changes for a final release. This principle enhances the continuous integration practice by implementing code changes to production or/and testing environments right after their development is complete. With the correct implementation of continuous delivery, programmers always get a tested and ready-to-deploy solution.
The Difference between Continuous Delivery, Continuous Deployment, and Continuous Integration
Continuous delivery implies building, testing, and sending any code change to a non-production environment. The whole testing process can include multiple test stages before a release. you can use several parallel testing steps. In the end of this testing process, a programmer manually approves the update deployment as soon as this update is ready. This process is different from a continuous deployment, in which deployment in the production environment occurs automatically, without explicit confirmation of the developer.
A continuous integration is a practice that implies creating automated tests for any new feature of the cloud-based or on-premises software package. This technique helps developers ensure a continuous validation of changes made to a solution. It is suitable for the development of any IT project including big data and IoT ones.
How You Can Use Continuous Delivery to Take Advantage of It
Continuous delivery is aimed at delivering all changes, including new features, configuration changes, bug fixes and experiments, to users as quickly and safely as possible. This principle brings various significant advantages to software and mobile app development agencies. Let’s cover important features of continuous delivery.
#1 – Ensuring Lower Risks and Fewer Bugs
Continuous delivery allows developers to reduce release risks by making software deployment a painless and secure event that can be performed at any time. Another important advantage is improving the quality of web-based or on-premises software. Due to spending minutes on all automatic tests, the team can dedicate more time to research, usability, and performance testing as well as improving security.
#2 – Ensuring Continuous Improvement
Continuous delivery allows developers to deliver value to users in small but frequent portions. This helps teams get feedback from users in short terms, so as they can focus on testing more hypotheses and delivering valuable software.
#3 – Reducing Costs
Any successful software products or services will change significantly during their life cycle. By investing in the development, testing, deployment, and automation activities, Java developers or other specialists can reduce the cost of creating and delivering software changes while eliminating many fixed costs associated with the software release process.
#4 – Ensuring Fast Responding to Market
By automating most operations, such as deployment, environment configuration, and testing, you can reduce the delivery time for new functionality. It allows developers to pay more attention to the user’s problems and deliver new values as often as necessary while ensuring a high level of quality.
#5 – Sharing Responsibility Wisely
If you release new changes in small portions, those releases become a usual everyday event for your team. This event no longer causes panic and stress, but rather motivates, gives the opportunity to immediately see the results of its work.
How Much Does Continuous Delivery Cost?
Continuous Delivery (CD) implies a manual release process and requires implementing new effective processes and specific methodologies. Also, CD requires setting up the administer automated testing. To implement CD, teams have to create automated tests and ensure the automated configuration of their test environments. These tasks usually take more effort and precious time than any other concept of a CD rollout. Therefore, you should understand that at the beginning of the CD deployment, you will need to spend extra funds on paying for extra development work.
Add to it developer training costs. Your programmers should know all the details of the corporate version control system. They should fully dedicate themselves to automated testing processes and take all the responsibility to deliver a release-ready product. The implementation of continuous delivery may cost up to $50,000-250,000 depending on whether you use your own resources or opt for local developers/products.
Implementing CD in Existing Product: Difficulties and Pitfalls
Even taking into account that we can fix problems with continuous delivery in our business, this practice may have some downsides.
Quality Assurance Balance
It’s a common (but not critical) pitfall, when, after adopting a Continuous Delivery practice in the workflow, one may notice that any activity within the practice takes much time because developers strive to ensure successful tests with no new errors. Therefore, once developers finish applying changes, they stop working and wait until tests are complete. This time-wasting period is obviously not agile.
To avoid this pitfall, implement a test-driven development (TDD) solution. TDD is a software development technique that is based on the repetition of very short development cycles:
- Writing a test to cover the desired change;
- Writing the code that will allow your product pass that test;
- Refactoring the new code with relevant standards.
TDD will allow you to significantly shorten time needed for development.
Unexpected Crashes Can Freeze the Whole Work
When continuously pushing the code to the CD pipeline, and continuously deploying services to your environments, your server may not afford your workload.
If a CD master server or database crashes, all work will freeze. Recovering the server is a time-consuming task, because it involves large amounts of manual work, though admins can detect failures using their own scripts. Once admins notice a failure, they hurry to retrieve the master backup as fast as possible while ignoring other necessary work.
Before implementing set a CD pipeline to support your whole workload, you should think plan ahead to avoid such eventuality. Ensure a high-availability of your system and take into account the same scaling issues you usually do when developing other services.
Lack of Standardization
CD pipeline designs significantly differ one from another but CD services focus on supporting every approach and technology. That’s why companies should have a flexible architecture. The practice has a lack of standardization to be able to ensure more flexibility while creating the additional responsibility on a developer responsible for architecture development.
Don’t hesitate to use other experts’ experience regarding improving workflow standardization. Consider existing best practices that can fit your both architecture and tech-stack. In addition, minimize anti-patterns and proprietary hacks and to facilitate development processes.
According to a study held by CA Technologies, IT companies experienced from 14% to 21% improvement in business processes due to CD implementation. They have increased numbers of clients, come with a faster time-to-market delivery, increased performance and quality of their applications. Therefore, adopting a continuous delivery is rather a highly effective investment of time and necessary transformations of business processes that lead to real financial benefits.
Due to continuous delivery adopted within the entire development workflow, software can be continuously developed, automatically improved and tested, and released to production in an efficient way. Unicsoft has been practicing continuous delivery for many years. Since we have moved to this technique, our clients have noticed how profitable their partnership with us has become. Get your high-quality IT solution fast and easy with Unicsoft!