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Apply Agile When Deploying Apps
As software development has advanced, a number of new trends & ideas are helping developers get their product to market faster
By: Coert Baart
May. 8, 2012 09:45 AM
The application release lifecycle is unnecessarily complex, manual and time-consuming and its cumbersome nature is putting businesses in a position of weakness. This one very critical process determines how fast a business can deliver products to market and yet is complex, error-prone and full of bottlenecks. An application release process can drive products to market faster, to strengthen the overall product roadmap and get the business to be more reactive to market needs.
A focus on speed of deployment is an off-shoot of the growth of cloud and Agile development methodology. The bottom line is - the faster that new features, fixes and improvements reach the customer, the better for everyone. The same principle applies in an enterprise environment - the faster the latest version of an application reaches users, the more productive they can be.
Both environments require scalability. As your product offerings grow and branch out, the delivery method must be capable of handling the changes. In the enterprise environment a large portfolio of software applications is the norm and any deployment solution must be able to scale.
Automated app deployment can reduce costs, and increase speed and scale as needed, but before we take a look at the solution let's discuss the problem.
App Deployment Nightmares
Security is another issue. What permissions are required to install and run the application? How much access do users have?
Manual steps also cost time and money and they introduce the potential for human error. You may have to copy a specific file to a specific location or rename a file. Even running separate scripts for different environments and projects can be a time drain and every manual process required increases risk.
If you have a series of scripts, you need a process in place and instructions on how to run them correctly. They will also need to be edited frequently to cater for any changes. A monolithic script might be able to cover the entire deployment process so that you have just one script to run but what happens when you have to deploy to a different environment? What about partial upgrades? Any changes will necessitate a modification of the script.
Either case requires specialist support to run and adapt and results in a system that won't work for a different app deployment. If you need to rollback for any reason it will be a major headache. What is the solution?
The advantages can be impressive. According to a Gartner report by Ronni J. Colville, ARA tools help to minimize the risk of human error and add reliability. They also provide transparency for all of the stakeholders involved and, more important, limit downtime and ensure faster delivery to the end user. That visibility throughout the process can be a real boost to DevOps as both ends of the operation can see the process in action.
A fully automated system capable of planning and adjusting as necessary to serve various environments makes continuous deployment a potential reality. Provided you have the ability to track the process, rollback and uninstall where necessary, you can minimize the risks. For a true commitment to an agile development methodology this is a natural endpoint.
Bottleneck at the Funnel
The deployment end of the funnel has remained as a bottleneck sapping up the time and energy of talented software engineers and IT professionals. It's still often a potential source of human error and when it is badly handled the results can be devastating in terms of downtime or dissatisfied customers.
The same logic being applied to software development needs to carry over into the deployment phase. Ultimately by building a complete pipeline from development, through quality assurance, to deployment, where automation and standardization is the ideal, we can save money, deliver as fast as possible and scale as needed. It just makes sense.
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