What is Continuous Delivery and What Are the Advantages of This Approach?
The term “Continuous Delivery” has been known for more than two decades, but in recent years this approach has become really popular, and many people are starting to put the technique into practice.
Process automation, frequent assemblies, a high level of control, and full work transparency are among the main features of Continuous Delivery (CD). In this article, we will take a closer look at the essence of this approach and its key advantages.
What Is Continuous Delivery and How Does It Look in Practical Terms?
The basic idea of CD is to build a deployment pipeline, allowing each change in the version control system to get into the combat environment through a standard and fully automated procedure.
Continuous Delivery is an important tool in the modern software development process. The whole process can be represented like this:
- The developer sends their changes to the version control system.
- The server starts the process of assembling incoming changes. All the necessary tests are launched.
- After being successfully integrated, the assembled package is uploaded to a test server.
- Responsible people receive notifications about the new software version available on the test platform. The second phase of testing starts – integration, manual, UI tests, etc. are launched.
- After the previous steps were successfully completed, the build appears in the stage environment (pre-production) which is as close as possible to the real environment.
- If everything went well, we have a ready-to-publish package, a new software version which gets into the combat environment.
At this point, the question arises: how to make all environments, starting with the developer environment, more consistent with each other? The answer is to use the Configuration Management System.
If this process runs smoothly, all necessary changes pass through it, and every change can potentially reach the production stage – call it the process of software product continuous delivery.
Key Benefits of Continuous Delivery
Based on the features listed above, we can name several important advantages provided by CD when used in the working process.
- Risk reduction. Continuous Delivery reduces release risks, making software deployment as safe as possible to be performed at any time.
- New features accelerated release. Most operations, such as deployment, environment settings, and testing are automated. This significantly reduces the delivery time for new product features.
- Quality improvement. Spending a few minutes to perform all automatic tests, the team can spend more time on usability testing, performance testing, and security.
- Cost reduction. Any successful software products or services will change during their life cycle. Investing in building, testing, deploying, and automating the environment, we can eliminate many of the management costs related to the software product development process.
- Fast feedback delivery. Continuous Delivery allows realizing a series of small but frequent product updates, speeding up feedback delivery from users. When the users’ attitude is known, it’s possible to test a greater number of hypotheses and respond to market changes more quickly.
Nevertheless, in spite of all the benefits listed above, this approach to software delivery has not yet become standard. Many companies continue to use “artisanal” production instead of switching to a deployment pipeline.
On the other hand, at the beginning of the last century, pipelines experienced resistance at real production facilities as well. Many things had to be readjusted, and many employees had to be retrained. In this regard, the IT industry is not very different. However, the process itself runs more smoothly and quickly.
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In addition, the modern engineer has an objective to avoid typical issues and automate routine operations rather than reinvent the wheel.
Continuous Delivery is the practice where frequent code assemblies are combined with inspection and ongoing testing. Since it is difficult to do everything manually, the process should be automated to the greatest extent possible.
Using Continuous Delivery practices in software development allows reducing the production costs, receiving a quality product, and making the process more foreseeable and predictable.
Furthermore, taking the advantages listed above into account, this approach has a beneficial effect on company development as a whole. It allows paying more attention to the user’s problems and delivering new values as often as necessary, maintaining a high quality level.
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