In recent years Continuous Delivery (CD) has become the standard choice for DevOps teams looking to develop and deploy high quality code. However as teams grow larger and take on more ambitious tasks, the implementation of CD—the actual delivery in Continuous Delivery—can be a challenge. Delays happen for a number reasons, and DevOps teams are consistently battling to keep projects on track.
From scaling too quickly to poor organization, here are just a few of the most common challenges that teams face, as well as techniques DevOps leaders can incorporate to alleviate pain points:
- Tight deadlines and research schedules
- Poor communication across teams
- Infrastructure cost
- Poor testing
- Open source confusion
- Over reliance on automation
Modern development moves fast, with businesses expected to push out multiple iterations and updates in shorter sprint cycles. Well-designed DevOps teams can keep a CD pipeline flow steady and efficient, without burning their team out with shorter turnaround times, but it takes organization and support.
Proper scheduling and a realistic product roadmap ensure that release dates stay punctual, and teams should be comfortable referring to it and holding each other accountable. Additionally, using the right tools to make projects spin up faster and with greater efficiency should be shared and implemented so their success is replicated.
Teams can also utilize acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) and behavior-driven development (BDD) practices, which allow developers to drive automated test code prior to the code itself. DevOps teams can also adopt fast test execution frameworks or headless browser frameworks to decrease setup time and accelerate test execution speed.
Just as continuous delivery requires different operational components to ensure reliable code, the business requires cooperation across teams to succeed. No department can afford to operate in a silo.
Poor communication across teams, both product-specific as well as the overall business, can lead to revisions and considerable deployment delays. Teams must assess their both operational processes and production tools throughout their organization—and once again have a common schedule and roadmap that is reliable and accurate. As variables come up, whether internal or within the marketplace, DevOps teams must be able to respond quickly and transparently across relevant departments.
Successful developers must have the necessary tools to not just support the business’s products, but also support their internal teams as well. Teams scaling with DevOps must have the budget to provide the infrastructure needed for teams to build more ambitious products and collate larger amounts of data.
Teams that try to scale too quickly often get caught in this bottleneck, sacrificing the quality of the product or their internal infrastructure. This leads to continued delays instead of deployments, and the issue can snowball if not handled wisely.
Teams should consider this before scaling their CD efforts: “How will this impact the infrastructure and processes I have in place today?” Be sure to understand how the processes of your current workflow could be affected before implementing a new process. Taking the time to integrate the right workflows makes the transition smoother and prevents this bottleneck from swelling into a serious delay.
There is a common stigma among DevOps teams when it comes to testing. Most believe that it’s not the job of the tester to provide all the data and insight. However, as CD continues to evolve, it’s crucial to implement continuous testing and give your team feedback loops to quickly solve software issues.
A devoted automation testing team keeps a product’s engine running, but it requires strong discipline throughout the lifecycle. First, that requires getting everyone in agreement. DevOps leaders need to make sure all teams agree when it comes to the process you choose, whether it’s Behavior-Driven Development or Agile. And most importantly, leave shadow CI processes in the past to assure teams have access to a single view of your product’s code.
Open source tools are an important element of any modern developer stack. However, many organizations are unsure of how to make this resource fit into their current workflow. How can they measure the benefit of an open source tool and how can it be applied across the team? Most open source tools are limited in their abilities and are often unable to support advanced features or share detailed reports. That creates a bottleneck for scaling, particularly for smaller teams that need to move fast.
Teams need to find the right open source test framework as well as an enterprise commercial tool provider, which will allow testing at scale, especially for teams operating in the cloud. Experimenting with new tools is great, and can lead to big benefits, but ensure your team members have an organized method for capturing the tool’s impact.
Automation for DevOps tools can save countless hours and keep CD schedules on time. However, as your team’s responsibilities shift and new tasks arise, it is easy to automate processes too soon just for the sake of time. Automating a poorly-designed process may save time in the short term, but long term it can swell into a major bottleneck that is difficult to fix.
To combat this, teams should solve process bottlenecks first before automating. Developers should be consistently doing audits of their automated protocols to ensure they are consistently accurate, while also testing currently processes for efficacy.
To reap the rewards of continuous delivery, it’s important to start with a well-organized workflow and prioritize communication over technology. You must account for increased infrastructure costs as your CD pipeline matures, and no well-run CD program can survive without continuous testing and faster feedback loops in place. Open source tools and automation make the lives of DevOps teams much easier, but you need to know what you’re doing before using them. They can cause as much headache as they do benefit if poorly implemented.
At the end of the day, every business wants to deliver more value to customers more quickly. Continuous delivery is the new gold standard for software development, but it does not come without its challenges. Keep learning about continuous delivery and educate your entire team for continuous success.
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