What is Continuous Delivery? 5 Steps to Automating Your Web Development Pipeline

At the advanced level you will have split the entire system into self contained components and adopted a strict api-based approach to inter-communication so that each component can be deployed and released individually. With a mature component based architecture, where every component is a self-contained releasable unit with business value, you can achieve small and frequent releases and extremely short release cycles. Agile development and continuous delivery are your keys to getting features to the customer as soon as production-ready. Your goal is to have each feature ready for release as it exits the pipeline.

continuous delivery model

For others, it may mean weekly or monthly releases—whatever satisfies market demands and the goals of the enterprise. At the base level in this category it is important to establish some baseline metric for the current process, so you can start to measure and track. At this level reporting is typically done manually and on-demand by individuals.

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Continuous improvement mechanisms are in place and e.g. a dedicated tools team is set up to serve other teams by improving tools and automation. At this level, releases of functionality can be disconnected from the actual deployment, which gives the projects a somewhat different role. In the last couple of decades, software development has undergone significant changes as it’s moved from the standard waterfall concept to the more efficient agile methodology.

Figure 4 shows that the features accepted by the Product Manager are delayed a staggering 696 hours before being deployed to staging. Understanding and eliminating unnecessary delays is critical to improving the flow of value. Instead, it’s a learning cycle that allows continuous delivery model teams to establish one or more hypotheses, build a solution to test each one, and learn from that work, as Figure 2 illustrates. The principles and methods of Continuous Delivery are rapidly gaining recognition as a successful strategy for true business agility.

Enable the Continuous Delivery Pipeline with DevOps

Tests on small amounts of code can be more efficient than end-to-end tests. Since developers who adopt CI/CD commit code more often, teams can quickly identify quality issues with smaller code packages, instead of larger ones created later along project timelines. Also, when developers have shorter commit cycles, they probably won’t edit the same code and need merges.

  • Approach each CI/CD challenge with discussions centered around, «How might we … ?» instead of, «We can’t do that.»
  • Developers can also validate application security during development instead of waiting for the testing stage, helping to reduce or avoid rework of application code.
  • At the advanced level you will have split the entire system into self contained components and adopted a strict api-based approach to inter-communication so that each component can be deployed and released individually.
  • Being able to rely on the accuracy of automated testing environments is absolutely critical to successfully achieving continuous deployment.
  • Once the current flow is understood, it can be mapped into the SAFe CDP. Mapping helps the organization adopt a shared mental model and efficiently communicate changes and improvements.
  • IBM UrbanCode Deploy features advanced process orchestration and collaboration tools that make it possible for enterprises to organize all of their deployment needs in one easy-to-use, customizable dashboard.

In turn, the programmer, getting rid of almost all the manual work, works more productively. Feedback allows teams to measure results so they have firm evidence on which to base new projects. When teams get rapid answers on which workflows and approaches deliver successful builds, that knowledge goes into every future build. If metrics show it’s taking too long to load an image and users don’t wait for it to load, developers can improve load times. In every case, continuous delivery creates the feedback loop needed to measure and improve user experience. With automated testing, which identifies when builds pass or fail, engineers can also move code through regression tests.

Architecting for continuous delivery

It is often assumed that if we want to deploy software more frequently, we must accept lower levels of stability and reliability in our systems. In fact, peer-reviewed research shows that this is not the case—high performance teams consistently deliver services fasterand more reliably than their low performing competition. This is true even in highly regulated domains such as financial services andgovernment.

continuous delivery model

Teams brace for impact during manual releases since those processes are brittle. Predictability implies that releases are deterministic in nature when done via continuous delivery pipelines. Since pipelines are programmable infrastructure, teams can expect the desired behavior every time. However, pipelines are exponentially better than manual error-prone release processes, since, unlike humans, pipelines don’t falter under aggressive deadlines. Continuous testing is a technique where automated tests are integrated with the software delivery pipeline, and validate every change that flows through it.


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It is important to understand that any code commit may be released to customers at any point. Patterns such as feature toggles can be very useful for committing code early which is not yet ready for use by end users. Using NoSQL can eliminate the step of data migrations and schema changes, often manual steps or exceptions to a continuous delivery workflow. Continuous delivery is popular approach for software delivery, especially for teams that practice DevOps. It is typically paired with continuous integration to form a chain of processes for software development, deployment and feedback loops called a CI/CD pipeline.

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Following the automation of builds and unit and integration testing in CI, continuous delivery automates the release of that validated code to a repository. So, in order to have an effective continuous delivery process, it’s important that CI is already built into your development pipeline. The goal of continuous delivery is to have a codebase that is always ready for deployment to a production environment.

For organizations that expect to grow, CI/CD can easily scale by team sizes, codebases, and infrastructure. CI/CD can reduce code integration workflows that are no longer needed, thereby also eliminating unnecessary team communications. It’s a good idea to ask developers to run regression tests in all environments, so that developers only send tests to version control when all their tests pass. Data Cloud for ISVs Innovate, optimize and amplify your SaaS applications using Google’s data and machine learning solutions such as BigQuery, Looker, Spanner and Vertex AI.

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It aims at building, testing, and releasing software with greater speed and frequency. The approach helps reduce the cost, time, and risk of delivering changes by allowing for more incremental updates to applications in production. A straightforward and repeatable deployment process is important for continuous delivery. In continuous delivery, code is delivered on a regular basis to user acceptance testing or to a staging environment. Code is tested for all aspects of functionality to reduce unexpected performance problems in production. Any component that passes the automated tests is a valid candidate for release.

There are many ways to enter this new era and here we will describe a structured approach to attaining the best results. While agile methodologies often are described to best grow from inside the organization we have found that this approach also has limitations. Some parts of the organization are not mature enough to adapt and consequently inhibit development, creating organizational boundaries that can be very hard to break down. The best way to include the whole organization in the change is to establish a solid platform with some important prerequisites that will enable the organization to evolve in the right direction.

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There’s also a lot of upfront investment, though, since automated tests will need to be written to accommodate a variety of testing and release stages in the CI/CD pipeline. It’s not uncommon for the integration and test/fix phase of the traditional phased software delivery lifecycle to consume weeks or even months. We also avoid the large amounts of re-work that plague the phased approach. Unless teams are disciplined, pipelines can shoot faulty code to production, only faster!

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Better Code Quality and Reduced Costs

| IBM Continuous integration is an iterative development process in which developers integrate new code into the code base at least once a day. While “continuous deployment” and “continuous delivery” may sound like the same thing, they are actually two different approaches to frequent release. In order to achieve this, regression tests must be automated, thereby eliminating expensive manual regression testing.