Continuous Delivery – A Software Development Process

Following the industry trend of shortening product time to market, more and more teams’/organizations’ release-cycles are moving from years and months to weeks and days. This requires weekly or daily releases to be the norm to achieve this high level of productivity.

This is a good place to start when starting a project to build products/apps/websites. This is a methodology which is simple for businesses to adopt at the onset rather than change their path midway. Though it is often perceived that it is equally advantageous for existing businesses to leverage the advantages of these best practices, it will not be simple. This is a difficult task as the technologies/best practices are growing at an equal pace, essentially being a moving target for existing businesses.

What is Continuous Delivery?

In simple terms Continuous Delivery can be defined as –

A software development discipline where you build software in such a way that the software can be released to production at any time’Martin Fowler
This means that business, technical team including developers, QA, deployers all are thoroughly confident on the code base at any point of time to be released to production at will, using a virtual switch. Traditional software development processes disconnect the business from software development, hence often they are surprised by the results they see after a considerable period of time. Agile practices ensure businesses are much more involved in the software development cycle, but still they don’t have a granular control over the release cycles of the product.

Typical problems which occur in release cycles are, regression errors found in the product, deployment issues, infrastructure issues. These problems and a unsuccessful release, often lower the confidence of the respective teams. When Continuous delivery principles are employed, all of the above activities are performed on a day to day basis, and hence, most of the problems are identified at a much early stage in the release cycle. This gives more time for the team to resolve their issues and increase the chances of a successful release. This also gives the business complete control over when to release features into production, giving them confidence on the integrity and stability of the new deployment.

In other words CD is a set of engineering practices and tools that reduce the cost, risk and time of delivering incremental changes to customers. CD practice enables both the business and development teams to have the confidence to deploy/deliver the latest source code of the product to production every single day, during the complete software development lifecycle.

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Rajesh Guptha