DevOps: A Continuous Delivery Cycle
What is continuous Delivery in DevOps?
Continuous Delivery, a crucial aspect of DevOps, is an approach that focuses on automating and optimizing the software release process. It ensures that software changes are consistently and reliably delivered to production environments. Continuous Delivery involves building, testing, and deploying software in small increments, allowing teams to release updates frequently and with confidence.
At the heart of Continuous Delivery is a robust and automated deployment pipeline. This pipeline encompasses various stages, including code compilation, automated testing, static code analysis, and deployment to staging and production environments. Each change to the codebase goes through this pipeline, undergoing rigorous testing and verification before being released. The use of automation tools and practices ensures that the process is efficient, and repeatable, and minimizes the risk of human error.
Continuous Delivery vs Continuous Deployment
Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment are two closely related practices in the realm of DevOps, but they have distinct differences.
Continuous Delivery focuses on automating and streamlining the software release process, ensuring that software changes are consistently and reliably delivered to production environments. It emphasizes the concept of having a deployment-ready build at any given time, enabling teams to release updates frequently and with confidence. Continuous Delivery enables organizations to achieve faster time-to-market, improved software quality, and enhanced collaboration between development, testing, and operations teams.
On the other hand, Continuous Deployment takes the automation aspect a step further. It entails automatically deploying every change that passes through the Continuous Delivery pipeline directly into production environments, without any manual intervention. In Continuous Deployment, once the automated tests and checks are successful, the new code is automatically released, making it immediately available to users. This practice enables organizations to achieve an even faster release cycle, delivering changes to users rapidly and frequently.
While Continuous Delivery ensures that software is always in a deployable state, Continuous Deployment takes it a step further by automating the release process itself. Both practices share the goal of faster and more reliable software releases, but Continuous Deployment goes beyond eliminating the need for manual deployment steps.
Benefits of Continuous Delivery
Continuous Delivery offers several benefits to organizations embracing this DevOps practice:
1. Faster time-to-market for software updates and new features.
2. Reduced risk of errors and failures through automated testing and validation.
3. Enhanced collaboration and communication among development, testing, and operations teams.
4. Improved software quality and stability through frequent and smaller releases.
5. Increased agility to respond quickly to market demands and customer feedback.
6. Lower deployment costs and resource utilization.
What are the three pillars of DevOps:
The three pillars of DevOps are culture, automation and measurement and each are necessary for the overall goal of continuous development and delivery to survive.
The culture required for DevOps to succeed is one that removes all the silos existing in the software delivery process. When new business requirements are passed on to development teams who code and pass on their work to testers before operations hears any word of it, the lack of communication and collaboration creates chaos, or at least inefficiency. Suggested practices are to physically bring people together to ensure that the requirements will be met by the development team, keeping in mind security while the operations team can assure that any necessary changes to scale and keep the software updated are known ahead of time. When perfected, a culture of openness should ensure that every team is always working on something to keep the pipeline of continuous software delivery flowing smoothly.
To ensure that organizations have enough bandwidth to be able to continuously work on developing and deploying new software, automation is key to guarantee previous releases do not require time and resources to be maintained and updated. An apt analogy is that if your software applications were to be animals, you would rather have cattle than pets. Pets require unique individual attention and if you continue to acquire more pets, the headaches involved with walking a dog, cleaning a bird cage, declawing a cat etc… can be time consuming and complicated. Automated software applications are like a herd of cattle, they all require the same resources, don’t require individual attention and can be easily monitored and maintained. Automate: don’t have pets, have cattle.
The final step to full DevOps implementation is measurement or monitoring which can oftentimes be ignored or underserved. The importance of measurement is becoming increasingly apparent as companies and IT professionals are realizing how important monitoring IT infrastructure leads to savings in maintenance and repair. Effective measurement can solve problems before they start by tracking uncharacteristic variance in patterns of data transfer alerting administrators to bugs or security threats at the earliest sign of any issue. While measurement and monitoring can be difficult to set up, there are many services that are tailored to assist in DevOps initiatives that allow for consolidated monitoring of all automated systems making it easier to make sure your ‘herd of cattle’ are safe and operational.
So what are the end results of effective DevOps implementation?
When a culture of DevOps has been accomplished, all parties have a better understanding of what goes into the full software lifecycle. This point is particularly appointment for people providing business requirements that often don’t provide the necessary information when factoring in the realities faced by developers and Ops teams. Furthermore, the lag between each team should be minimal to none and upcoming projects should be foreseen ensuring all teams are busy and working towards common goals.
Finally, what does DevOps have to do with my previous articles on DronaHQ’s mobile Container as a Service and Docker Containers? DevOps is now heavily relying on the use of micro-services, SaaS products and Cloud virtualization as tools and environments for application development and deployment. To achieve continuous deployment and agile development organizations can’t rely on their in house teams to compete with the best practices and specialized services available in the marketplace. Mobile containers and Docker containers enable DevOps by allowing teams to focus on development and deployment in simplified environments. To finish my four-part series I will discuss how all of these innovations are moving to various virtual clouds, demonstrating how with containers and cloud computing, virtual infrastructures and DevOps automation will bring IT to a future where IT developers and professionals will only have to build, deploy and move on from many of the roadblocks they face in software delivery and infrastructure change.
*Originally Posted on July 20, 2016