What is Continuous Delivery and why do Software Teams Need it?
Continuous delivery can make software deployments painless, minimize human error, de-risk deployments, and improve teams’ performance. Here’s how.
How GitOps Boosts Business Performance
How GitOps Enables a Continuous Application Lifecycle
CI/CD for Kubernetes
How Weave GitOps Builds on Flux to bring GitOps to the Enterprise
Continuous Deployment vs. Continuous Delivery - Which is Better?
Add GitOps Without Throwing Out Your CI Tools
In the digital era, it’s all about speed. It’s how businesses both excel and compete. And if you’re in the software business, speed is defined as getting changes - bug fixes, new features, or updates for back-end operations - in the hands of the customers faster. This can be measured through higher deployment, faster lead time to change, and reduced developer toil – and one way to improve all three is continuous delivery.
What is Continuous Delivery?
Continuous delivery (CD) is a key aspect of the software development process, enabling developers to release small and frequent software updates, safely and reliably. CD aims to automate and streamline the software development process. It’s often thought of as an extension of continuous integration (CI), the practice of integrating code into a central and shared repository, automatically building and testing each new change.
Once the CI part of the process is complete, CD takes over to ensure the new release of software makes it into production and to its final users. Together, continuous integration and continuous delivery enable software teams to release well-tested and low-risk features faster.
Figure: A CI/CD Pipeline
While CI/CD is a great concept on paper, implementing both - CI and CD - remains elusive to many. A recent study by the CD Foundation found that, “47% of developers use either continuous integration or deployment, but only one in five use both continuous integration and deployment approaches to automate all building, testing, and deployment of code to production.”
Whitepaper: How GitOps Enables A Continuous Application Lifecycle
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How to measure software delivery performance
After 6 years of research by the DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA), there are four metrics that measure the performance of a software delivery team:
- Lead time for changes: measuring time from code commit to release in production.
- Deployment frequency: how often organizations deploy code to production.
- Time to restore service: the average time it takes to restore service when a service incident or a defect impacts users.
- Change failure rate: percentage of changes to production, resulting in degraded service subsequently requiring remediation.
Figure: DORA’s Metrics for Software Delivery Performance
A fifth metric, reliability, was introduced in 2021, representing operational performance and is a measure of modern operational practices. The metric reliability measures how well your services meet user expectations such as availability and performance.
So how does continuous delivery fit into the evaluation of high-performing teams?
As discovered in this year’s DORA Report report, high performing teams are able to deploy on-demand and even medium performers are deploying once per week to once per month.
“[The use of continuous delivery (CD) is] a predictor of higher software delivery performance, both alone and in combination with other DevOps capabilities. Teams that rated higher on CD are more likely to have a higher frequency of deploying code to production, and shorter lead time for changes and service restoration.”
In other words there is a strong correlation between speed and stability metrics, rather than one compromising the other.
If you want to learn more about how DORA metrics and how CD and GitOps impact Software Delivery and Operational (SDO) performance - download our whitepaper.
Why do Organizations Adopt Continuous Delivery?
Continuous Delivery gives teams the capability of getting any type of change (new features or fixes) into the hands of users safely and quickly. As discovered through the DORA metrics, speed and reliability are supporting each other, resulting in stable applications that meet user expectations.
Let’s summarize the main benefits of CD:
- Fewer interventions: in a continuous delivery environment, software releases are automated, minimizing human intervention and are therefore less error-prone. Releases that usually take days or even weeks, can be done in minutes/hours.
- Faster time to market: with an automated software delivery pipeline, teams can deliver bite-sized code and features more frequently and reliably. These frequent releases translate into new products and features in the hands of the customers faster.
- Low-risk releases: automated CD allows for smaller, low-risk releases that can be performed at any time. Smaller releases minimize the overall risk of ‘things breaking’ in production. Teams can further de-risk deployments by applying patterns such as blue-green deployments and A/B testing.
- Better products: smaller feature releases and various deployment patterns (e.g. A/B testing) empower product development teams to extract data and feedback from users more frequently - resulting in great products being built.
Continuous Delivery Automation with Weave GitOps
Weave GitOps is a continuous delivery and operations platform, introducing speed and reliability into your software delivery chain. Built on Flux, the widely popular CNCF continuous delivery tool, Weave GitOps complements your existing CI toolchain and places emphasis on automated rollouts and rollbacks in case of faulty deployments or errors.
With Weave GitOps, you have a fully supported and hardened, single pane of glass that features:
- Continuous application delivery and management: Understand and manage application lifecycle in a GitOps-enabled cluster. Weave GitOps automates Kubernetes, making it easy for developers to deploy. Immediately detect drift and evaluate cluster health, even inform rollback actions as well as monitor continuous operations.
- Progressive Delivery: Deploy into production environments safely using canary, blue/green and A/B strategies. Simple single file configuration defines success and rollbacks SLO using observability metrics from your choice of metrics tool.
- Trusted Application Delivery and Security: with built-in developer guardrails in the form of policy as code, you can now implement security controls and ensure compliance at every step of the application and cluster lifecycle. Validate policy conformance at every step in the software delivery pipeline: commit, build, deploy, and run time.
- Cluster fleet management: Deploy the same application into many different clusters even across cloud and hybrid environments, allowing change deployments across the fleet via Git and Cluster API.
Download our free and open-source version of Weave GitOps and give it a try. Or request a demo on Weave GitOps Enterprise and discover how to manage Kubernetes clusters and applications at scale.