What Is Continuous Delivery in Agile and How to Create a CD Culture

What Is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous Delivery (CD) is a development method that takes code changes, tests them in a realistic environment, and automatically releases them to production. 

Continuous delivery combined with continuous integration (together known as CI/CD) are an important aspect of modern software development, because it enables rapid release cycles and fast feedback for developers. This is a critical requirement for DevOps work processes and agile software development.

Continuous Delivery allows developers to automate a variety of tests—not just unit tests but also integration tests, functional tests, API tests, security tests, and full end-to-end tests—to validate multiple aspects of a new release before it is deployed. These tests allow developers to thoroughly evaluate updates and identify issues before deploying a version to production.

What Is Agile Software Development?

Agile software development is a methodology that anticipates the need for flexibility in software projects, and makes it easier and more practical to deliver software to customers. 

Agile software development introduced a focus on iterative development and delivery of small components or changes instead of entire applications. This required a cultural shift in many organizations. Today, agile development is mainstream, and waterfall development processes such as long release cycles and “big bang” deployments are largely a thing of the past.

The benefits of agile include being able to support teams in changing circumstances while focusing on delivering business value. Agile development practices dramatically shortened time to market and improved the quality of software products, due to automated testing and rapid feedback. 

The culture of collaboration nurtured by agile gave birth to the DevOps organization. It might be considered passé to talk about “agile”. But all DevOps practices embody agile development principles. You could say that DevOps is the practical implementation of agile software development in the modern organization.

From Agile to DevOps to Continuous Delivery

The Agile Manifesto, released in 2001, revolutionized the software development industry by introducing agile methodologies breaking down the development process into small chunks with faster feedback loops. 

Agile development helped developers work more efficiently. These trailblazing practices eventually matured and became ubiquitous, shifting the industry’s focus from small startups to large-scale software projects. The early agile methodologies accelerated the code development process but often faced silos and bottlenecks.

The agile movement gave rise to new technological breakthroughs that streamlined and automated the application delivery lifecycle. The first important process was Continuous Integration (CI), with development teams checking their code more frequently in separate branches before merging them into a common trunk. Traditional operations teams couldn’t cope with these frequent releases. 

Next, Continuous Delivery (CD) popularized the treatment of the whole SDLC as a unified process. It gave momentum to agile initiatives and boosted DevOps investment.

DevOps brings together CI and CD practices to create a seamless delivery pipeline and improve the reliability of software releases. It leverages automation across the pipeline stages, including CI building, testing, and deployment, involving R&D and Ops. Continuous delivery enables frequent, systematic, and repeatable software releases. 

Extending agile software development with continuous delivery provides several benefits, including faster time-to-market, more accurate product builds, enhanced productivity, code reliability, and customer satisfaction.

Related content: Read our guide to continuous delivery pipeline

5 Ways to Adopt Agile and DevOps and Create a Continuous Delivery Culture

1. Encourage Continuous Learning

Organizations should foster a workplace culture that embraces continuous learning to streamline work processes: 

  • Expand skills and knowledge base—assess the agile development team’s current capabilities to identify knowledge and skills gaps.
  • Establish practice communities—support learning opportunities to practice processes and gain technical experience.
  • Implement a continuous learning strategy—adopt processes that support learning.

2. Ensure Teams Are Agile-Fluent

Promoting agile fluency involves the following key steps: 

  • Set metrics to establish a baseline to measure a project’s success. 
  • Implement agile practices and train staff to adopt them. 
  • Establish bimodal predictability and exploratory IT teams to minimize dependencies between modes and reduce bottlenecks. 

3. Implement Mature Practices

Management frameworks like Kanban and Scrum are insufficient to implement agile methodologies because they don’t provide guidance and have separate objectives. Implementing a mature agile development strategy requires considering these areas:

  • Insights and guidance—encourage quality-driven application development based on continuous feedback. 
  • Componentized architectures—refactor and build new applications to support CD processes and agile methodologies.

4. Automate the Infrastructure Management Processes

DevOps and security teams must deliver software quickly to meet customer demand. DevOps processes can accelerate application updates, enabling frequent releases, but they require the following abilities: 

  • Provisioning and configuration of tooling—helps manage the new architecture.
  • Application management—team leaders must decide how to manage and deploy applications. 
  • Application and data security—the fast pace of agile development cycles makes securing applications and data more challenging and important.
  • Monitoring—agile practices require performance monitoring to provide rapid feedback on deployed applications. 

5. Improve Sprints and Cadences

Tech leaders should consider the following when enhancing their teams’ delivery cadences: 

  • Enterprise agile frameworks—enable sustainable, routine management of complex and evolving agile releases.
  • Microservices—use distributed applications to support agile and scalable delivery and deployment in different environments.

Continuous Delivery with Codefresh

Delivering new software is the single most important function of businesses trying to compete today. Many companies get stuck with flaky scripting, manual interventions, complex processes, and large unreliable tool stacks across diverse infrastructure. Software teams are left scrambling to understand their software supply chain and discover the root cause of failures. It’s time for a new approach.

Codefresh helps you meet the continuous delivery challenge. The Codefresh platform is a complete software supply chain to build, test, deliver, and manage software with integrations so teams can pick best-of-breed tools to support that supply chain. 

Built on Argo, the world’s most popular and fastest-growing open source software delivery toolchain, the Codefresh Software Delivery Platform unlocks the full enterprise potential of Argo Workflows, Argo CD, Argo Events, and Argo Rollouts and provides a control-plane for managing them at scale.

The World’s Most Modern CI/CD Platform

A next generation CI/CD platform designed for cloud-native applications, offering dynamic builds, progressive delivery, and much more.

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