Every software development team should have a fully automated deployment process.” That’s according to pretty much everyone I meet at conferences and events.
It’s not even a debate. It’s a declaration.
In actual fact there are only a small percentage of software development teams who have a ‘one-click’, totally hands-off, fully automated deployment process. Many teams have a partially manual deployment process and most have an entirely manual process.
What is Stopping You?
If automating your software development deployment process is something that you think everyone should do, why are so many IT departments reluctant to take advantage of the benefits? The perception that there is a very large cost overhead for creating, configuring and maintaining this type of automated deployment process. And like so many strategies in the past, that fail to live up to the hyped potential, unfortunately, this one makes organizations a bit leery about taking on strategies that don’t have a guaranteed success rate. The key to this kind of thinking being changed is for more organizations to adopt automated deployment and show the successes..
In an article on redgate.com: they showed some comments from some of their clients, illustrating the aprehension of moving forward with the automated deployment process strategy:
“Setting-up automated deployment will take forever! It’ll steal time from developing the actual software my team has been assembled to create!”
“Our deployment process has so many moving parts, how do I even begin to automate it?”
“It’ll just drain energy from our developers – who would rather be solving business problems and not writing scripts to copy files across a network.”
It is a resounding fact remains that easily setting up this process has not been very good. The perceptions are that automating your deployment will not benefit your SDLC and in fact cause delay with your client’s products. This process will require a dedication from the team to make it work, but it will work, and once it does, you will be one step closer to the becoming the effective team you need to be.
According to many sources that are using the process successfully there are 7 main benefits to moving forward with an Automating Deployment Process.
The 7 Main Benefits to Embarking on Automation Deployment Strategy
Releases can be more frequent:
It is a fact that if your release schedule is more frequent, your development is continuous and your feedback can be more continuous, increasing stakeholder satisfaction. This continuous development and deployment strategy is a process can be implemented slowly, as with one project or client. The benefits will be realized quickly, as the communication between the teams will be more fruitful. This single development/deployment has very low overhead and you can get your bearings on how to implement it well across your teams.
Operation Confidence will Increase:
With the implementation of continuous delivery in your SDLC you will see better executed code. Ongoing improvements to this process will increase business agility while maintaining stability with deployment of client projects. Challenges can be easily identified and addressed, because with continuous delivery and deployment you have continuous feedback and changes can be made more switfly. With the increase in operation cofidence, you will see enhanced teamwork, the brunt of the work is not longer the “Brunt” of the work, it is scaled down to smaller easier to deal with releases, iterations are quicker also. Software Developers, application integrators, testers and shareholders will work more collaboratively to deliver the best software product.
Automated Delivery empowers everyone in the Team to deploy
Often the knowledge of how the process is deployed is held by one individual or small team, and if one person is ill or otherwise unavailable, the process must not be delayed. Continuous development and deployment lends itself to sharing information across the team for the process to be effective. No one person can hold all the knowledge as it had been in the past. The benefits are many when more than one person has access to the “Deploy” mechanism to initiate a release.
4. The more repeatable the process the less errors your project will incur
Automated deployments, once configured and tested the process is set will show a continuity. The client will begin to understand what they should expect and there will be less stress in the process. Manual deployment is riffed with issues. Errors are common with manual deployment, the process is not a standard procedure, often important steps during a release are accidentally missed, and there are often issues that occur that you have not planned for. What will go wrong, will, according to Murphy’s Law! Even incorrect versions have been known to be released and then go live, sometimes this is recoverable, but not always. With a well planned automated process, that is repeatable and integrated into the process, these such errors do not occur. Consistency is what makes this more and more attractive to software development companies and their partners.
5. Changing the deployment location is easily doable
What if your client changes cloud storage facilities or they change locations, or they have a new customer? Normally, you would have to jump through many hoops to make sure the manual process is re-created correctly, then tested and tested. With automated deployment, the underlying release process is permanent, the new test environment can be easily set up and configured. A major benefit of this type of process is that they are easily repeatable, but they are also easily configurable too.
6. Transparency and Accountability is built in:
This process is known for increasing transparency and accountability. It provides a place where team members can look to see what version of the application is deployed where, when it was deployed, who released it, and the date and time of the release. Automated deployment has the reporting capabilities built in as a way to audit the process. Deployment logs can be encoded and centralized to show accountability across the teams, internal and external.
7. Engineers spend their time developing software
When development engineers spend more of their time on a manual deployment process, then on the client’s product, that becomes less than effective. This thankless task of iteration deployment which was once very time consuming, can fall to anyone, including testers and project managers. The development team can spend their time on the important work, such as correcting the bugs in the iteration that was just deployed, or in a perfect work, the production of the next set of fantastic features and improvement to the software.
To initiate a fully automated deployment, takes seconds! Validation of those deployments happens behind the scenes and team members may only need to spend further time on a deployment if something has actually gone wrong. As a result, the team get to spend more time doing what they enjoy and have been assembled to do; create great software.
Debunking the “overhead” myth
According to Octopus Deploy White paper: “Any Automation solution requires an up-front investment to implement., with the expectation that there will be a return on this investment in terms of productivity over time. ” But, they showed significant satisfaction from the stakeholders with the increased deployments: Before Automation: 19% had weekly releases, after automated deployment was implemented this increased to 43% in daily releases. These benefits sound pretty desirable, but remember that sinister set-up overhead that is discouraging many teams from automating deployments? That overhead is really just TIME. More accurately, it is your estimation of the amount of time required to create an automated deployment mechanism.
The good news is that this overhead isn’t anywhere as big as you fear. There are a number of good automated software deployment tools out there that can be tailored to your needs fairly quickly – for instance, I’d give Octopus Deploy a go if you’ve never tried it as it’s pretty awesome. Octopus Deploy and other release management tools also integrate with Redgate SQL Release to help you automate database deployments to pre-production and production. These kind of tools can be integrated into your existing infrastructure and will reduce the overhead of setting up an automated deployment process to an hour or two. Leaving your team with a ‘one-click’, totally hands-off, fully automated deployment process that is, apparently, a no-brainer.