Deployment is the stage when all of your developer’s hard work goes live. And the longer you’ve worked on something, the more nervewracking deploying it can be.
If there is an issue, all other development work will need to go on hold while your team untangles the problem, effectively halting progress. It can lead to upset customers and hours of lost time. But this isn’t how deployment has to feel. All you need is to adopt a continuous deployment process.
Continuous deployment automatically moves every change that goes into the main repository into production. It sounds scary and uncontrolled (and in some ways, it is) – but ultimately, it’s less risky and has heaps of benefits. Read on to learn what it is, why it’s useful, and how to start using it.
What is continuous deployment?
Continuous deployment comes after continuous delivery, which itself comes after continual integration (it’s the last phase in the cycle of three).
It uses automated testing to check whether a codebase is accurate before automatically deploying it to production. Because the checks are automatic, you can eliminate the previously resource-heavy deployment phase.
It allows managers and dev teams to turn all of their attention towards development. Meanwhile, clients and customers get regular updates they can enjoy.
What’s the difference between continuous deployment and continuous delivery?
They are two identical acronyms, two similar-sounding names, and two processes that achieve similar things. But there are differences, and it’s important to understand the distinction.
With continual delivery, there is a last manual approval stage before deployment. With continual deployment, everything is automated.
To help you picture it, think of a factory floor. In some factories, employees perform checks by eye. There’s a quality control team that visually monitors each item, then either rejects or moves the items on to the next stage.
In other factories – like bottling plants – machines with lasers perform checks automatically. The same principles apply: if it passes, it can go on to be used (i.e., deployed), and if it fails, it’s rejected – but this choice is made without the need for humans. This is the difference between continual deployment and delivery.
What are the advantages of continuous deployment?
Continuous deployment benefits the whole organization, as well as the customer. Teams are more collaborative, while the heightened transparency and smoother feedback loop mean the project can move along faster and with a higher degree of certainty.
It’s easier to solve issues.
Because releases are smaller and more regular, code is easier to understand (and untangle) if there are errors. You can work faster.
Automating certain tasks means the developers – as well as managers – have more time to dedicate to other business challenges. Removing the layer of manual approval also means the process is less bureaucratic, which speeds things up, especially within multi-developer teams working on larger projects. There’s better scaling.
The more people involved, the more complex it all becomes. That’s just science, right? With continual deployment, businesses can respond to changing demands faster, while developers can test and then reject or validate ideas and features automatically (and therefore with less time-consuming manual checks). It’s a more agile way of working.
With builds being continually submitted, teams can react to customer feedback, requests, and reports faster. It also means that new features can