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What Is Continuous Delivery?

Every software development team can speak to the importance of efficient and effective software development practices. One practice that has gained significant traction in recent years is continuous delivery (CD). This post will delve into the concept of continuous delivery, its workings, its relation to continuous integration and deployment, its connection to DevOps, and its overall relevance in the IT industry.

What is continuous delivery?

Continuous delivery is a software development discipline where software is built in such a way that it can be released to production at any time. It is an approach where teams ensure that every change made to the system is releasable and that they can release it at any moment on demand. The main objectives of continuous delivery are to accelerate the release rate of new features, improve software quality, and reduce the cost, time, and risk of delivering changes by allowing for more incremental updates to applications in production.

How does continuous delivery work?

The process of continuous delivery begins with the development of software by the IT team. Once the software is developed, it undergoes various stages of coding, building, and testing. The code is then deployed to a staging environment where it is further tested for reliability, functionality, and performance. If the software passes all these tests, it is then pushed to the production environment. The key here is to automate this entire process, making the deployment process repeatable and reliable.

Continuous delivery vs continuous integration & continuous deployment

  • Continuous Delivery:

    • This is a software development practice where the software can be released to production at any given time. It ensures that every change made to the system is releasable and can be deployed at any moment on demand.
    • The main objectives of Continuous delivery include accelerating the release rate of new features, improving software quality, and reducing the cost, time, and risk associated with delivering changes.
  • Continuous Integration (CI):

    • This is a development practice where developers integrate changes into a mainline code base multiple times in a day. It is primarily used to prevent integration problems, also known as ‘integration hell.’
    • The key difference between continuous integration and continuous delivery lies in their focus areas – while CI deals with the build and initial test stages, CD focuses on what happens with the build next, its delivery to the end users.
  • Continuous Deployment (CD):

    • Continuous deployment is often confused with continuous delivery, but they are not the same. While continuous delivery requires manual approval for deploying to production, continuous deployment does not require manual intervention and the changes are automatically deployed.
    • This approach ensures that every change that passes all stages of your production pipeline is released to your customers. There’s no human intervention, and only a failed test will prevent a new change to be deployed to production.

How does continuous delivery relate to DevOps?

DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. Therefore, continuous delivery plays a pivotal role in DevOps. It not only enables faster and more frequent releases, but it also ensures that the quality of software does not get compromised at this speed. By aligning with the principles of DevOps, continuous delivery helps in achieving quicker time-to-market, improved productivity, and better product quality.

Closing Thoughts

Continuous delivery is a vital cog in the wheel of modern-day IT practices. By enabling swift and reliable delivery of software, it ensures that businesses can stay competitive in today’s fast-paced digital world. Not only does it streamline the software development process, but it also paves the way for a more collaborative and efficient IT ecosystem, thus playing a crucial role in the successful implementation of DevOps. As the IT landscape continues to evolve, the relevance and importance of continuous delivery are only set to increase.

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