The Top 8 Questions to Ask About Continuous Delivery

Written by: Viktor Farcic

Can continuous delivery transform organizations into fast-moving, software-producing machines? Yes, but getting there takes agreement, communication, transparency, tools and processes. Map your journey to continuous delivery by answering these eight questions:

1. What is continuous delivery?

Continuous delivery is a process that enables development teams to continuously roll out tested code that is always in a production-ready state. To achieve continuous delivery, application development teams incorporate automation to deliver updates more rapidly and with fewer errors. Once a new feature or update is complete, the code is immediately available for deployment to test environments, pre-staging or live production. Building, testing and releasing software faster and more frequently reduces the cost, time and risk of delivering changes by allowing for more incremental updates to applications in production.

2. What is the difference between continuous delivery and DevOps?

DevOps is a practice and continuous delivery is a process. DevOps defines how an organization, its developers, operations personnel and other stakeholders in the software delivery value chain work together. Continuous delivery is a part of a DevOps practice that helps automate software development, testing and delivery though tools and processes.

3. What technology changes are required in the development tool chain to enable DevOps?

Most organizations have already adopted some of the technologies required to achieve continuous delivery. Continuous integration tools are critical for achieving continuous delivery. Additional tools include code repositories, cloud-based dev, test and deploy environments, application monitoring tools, and microservice orchestration tools, among other technologies.

4. What business practices must change to achieve continuous delivery?

Company-wide belief in DevOps is essential. Stakeholders must agree to work toward business outcomes rather than siloed interests. This requires communication, transparency and shared effort across business units. Technologies can help developers write and check in code faster and with fewer errors. Similarly, those in testing and deployment can use tools to automate these processes. But company-wide adherence to DevOps is the most important change.

5. Who owns the success of your continuous delivery adoption?

DevOps belongs to everyone. The owners range from the C-suite to the system admins - all supporting the idea of delivering software faster for the benefit of the business and customers.

6. How long does it take to implement continuous delivery?

Implementation can take minutes or months depending on the extent of legacy processes, teams and tooling. Adoption usually happens incrementally by adding a cloud-based dev and test environment, for example, and adding on processes and tools from there.

7. What is a continuous delivery pipeline?

A continuous delivery pipeline is a way of thinking about the software delivery process, from initial idea to a successful business endeavor. It can be defined in multiple ways, but generally follows a path of version control, build, unit test, deploy, auto test, deploy to production and measure/validate. At nearly every step, feedback automatically informs the developer and other stakeholders about code or development issues.

8. Does continuous delivery pay off?

Yes. CloudBees’ review of more than 100 DevOps-oriented organizations identified savings of up to hundreds of millions per year for large enterprises just from automating developer infrastructure for continuous delivery. This is in addition to the economic benefits from faster time-to-market, team collaboration and customer satisfaction with the frequently improved software.

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