Advancing from continuous delivery to continuous deployment

How to enhance a CI/CD pipeline to deploy faster and get better results

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Why invest in continuous deployment?

Going from continuous integration and delivery to continuous deployment requires a number of additional steps, most of which require automation, contingency, and rollback capability. If your approach to continuous deployment involves one or more manual interventions, then you’re still practicing mere continuous delivery. Many experts contend that continuous deployment should be the penultimate goal for any organization with no compliance restraints mandating human intervention.

Continuous deployment replaces human safeguards with automatic testing for defective code and real-time monitoring of the production. The best deployments involve frequent, small, incremental updates, not large swap-outs of entire subsystems. Developers must meticulously follow rigorous continuous integration and automated testing protocols to reap the benefits. DevOps must implement instrumentation to provide clear visibility and avoid incidents during release. Finally, devs need to be able to back out from updates that cause users to experience errors or crashes not caught by the automated tests.

Teams that embrace an automatic, continuous deployment paradigm soon realize the value of frequent, predictable product releases. Though the process doesn’t come without significant effort, continuous deployment reduces the ceremony and risk that characterize many conventional pipelines. Think about it: a team that relies on the delivery pipelines for daily releases to monitor and resolve deficiencies more readily than a team that releases infrequently. While seemingly counterintuitive, the ability to perform continuous releases increases quality and efficiency.

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