What is Continuous Delivery?
Continuous delivery (CD) is a method in software development which focuses on designing and delivering product updates frequently and fast with the help of short production cycles. Designing the software in short rounds supports releasing the product at any time.
Through this approach, the product (or updates) and changes related to coding, features, interface, configuration and bug fixes, etc. are delivered continuously or frequently in the least amount of time to the users and that’s how the practice got its name.
It succeeds the continuous integration part of the CI/CD (continuous integration/ continuous delivery) method in which the developers deliver gradual code changes regularly and rapidly.
Delivering rapid services does not mean that quality is bound to be compromised. Short cycles of production can help in focusing on product excellence along with fulfilling quick delivery targets.
High-performance teams are the ones that deliver higher quality at a faster pace.
How Continuous Delivery helps in software development process?
The continuous delivery approach helps the development teams to collect feedback from users at every stage for the updates that are delivered. So for every production cycle, the teams gain important insights from the users.
It has a unique framework that changes from business to business. Major elements of the continuous delivery model are change management, features, codes and update development, testing, release, and user validation.
This type of model is very beneficial to the product development process in aspects like- risk reduction, quick releases, product excellence, cost efficiency, and stress reduction of the product team members.
Benefits of implementing Continuous Delivery
Lesser bugs and risks
Releasing small altered versions rapidly helps you to find bugs and issues more easily and at an early stage of the design and development process.
Continuous delivery paired with automated testing at all the stages of development ensures flawless code for the software and also allows the developers to call off any changes as per the situation.
Frequent and fast release of new features
Releasing features continuously at all levels of development is advantageous in terms of feedback collection. Through the feedback, the teams get the opportunity to improve, learn and iterate.
This way the customers are also roped into the product development process. They also contribute on their side by reporting the issues and experiences.
Counter the market issues swiftly
Market changes are a very common and frequently occurring scenario. A change in a software-based business could be something that indicates a switch in user behaviors or needs or the availability of hardware or software resources like for example increase in sales of personal laptops with the rise of work from home culture and online education, a rise in the prices of computers due to increased prices of raw materials, or gamers switching from one game to another for a better experience.
So, with continuous delivery, it is easier to switch your market strategy and align that with the product development process.
Healthy and better work environment with lower stress for all the teams.
Smaller and frequent updates at a uniform rate help the team members to develop their understanding and match frequency with the workflow.
In a continuous delivery model, the workload is shared out in a wider and better way. Shared responsibility and contribution ease up the work environment and reduces stress on individual team members. All of this reflects in the performance of the employees. Shared responsibility also welcomes shared success that adds up to team building.
Working of continuous delivery model
According to AWS, continuous delivery practice is related to DevOps software development. It says: “code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for a release to production. Continuous delivery expands upon continuous integration by deploying all code changes to a testing environment and/or a production environment after the build stage.”
The deployment pipeline of CD aims at
- Continuous deployment
Tools involved in continuous delivery are:
- Continuous integration: It is the method of automating the code alteration integration where all the code changes from all the developers are merged to a central project.
- Application release automation: In ARA the apps or app updates are automatically packaged and deployed through the development stages.
- Build automation: Through build automation the developers work load is reduced through automation of repetitive steps in the software development process.
- Application lifecycle management: It is the lifecycle management of a software program or application. It covers all the aspects such as architecture, requirements, maintenance, changes, CI/CD, release management, etc.
In CI the developers of a team integrate their individual code changes into a central shared repository to build and keep track of the overall code development. CD is the phase after CI that includes testing, deployment, and all the other processes after the code is integrated to ensure updates are quickly and frequently delivered.
The main effect of continuous delivery is that it eases and enhances the release processes. It is a key element of DevOps ROI. It helps in streamlining the workflow, cost efficiency, automation, and lowering stress on the developers. It increases the productivity of the business.
The limitations and challenges in the path of the CD approach are mostly the cost-related issues with automation, technical issues, reluctance to the methods by team members, organizational challenges, conflicts with other processes and time management, and maintenance.