Why Continuous Delivery is key to speeding up software development

Continuous Delivery automates and accelerates the process of software delivery
Continuous Delivery automates and accelerates the process of software delivery

Continuous Delivery is a design practice used in software development to automate and accelerate the process of software delivery. Continuous Delivery has emerged as a hot topic in the software industry because it is critical for software organisations that want to accelerate the delivery of quality code as a means of better serving customers and gaining a competitive advantage.

Electric Cloud is a company dedicated to helping internet-based and enterprise software organisations adopt and scale Continuous Delivery. The firm is based in the US and has additional offices in London and Tokyo.

We caught up with Steve Brodie, CEO of Electric Cloud, to discuss the recent round of funding from a group of notable investors, including Siemens' Venture Capital, US Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund, RRE Ventures and Rembrandt Venture Partners. We also asked Steve about industry trends, agile development and DevOps.

TechRadar Pro: Could you tell us a little about Electric Cloud, your recent round of funding and how you are using the investment?

Steve Brodie: Electric Cloud is a company that has focused on automated software delivery processes to streamline the release of production-ready software where quality and time-to-market are vital. Much of our early focus was on the build/test lifecycle, and now we have the industry's first and only platform for automating the entire build-test-deploy lifecycle.

Our latest round of funding is being used to accelerate technical development and expand sales and marketing to become the market leader for Continuous Delivery solutions.

TRP: Looking at the software delivery market, what are the major customer trends that are different from one year ago?

SB: On the software delivery side we see "agile" hitting a roadblock as the complexity and pace of application releases increases – especially within larger enterprises. The process improvements have been great at driving team productivity and even extending development practices into IT operations with DevOps. This is the reason you see things like Scaled Agile Framework and others addressing the need to scale.

However, what our large enterprise customers really need to accomplish any of this is automation that accelerates code into a production-ready state.

Other bigger trends are the rise of agile approaches for complex embedded systems and the critical nature of mobile apps in the enterprise. All of this is driving added pressure on IT organisations while demands for speed are relentless.

TRP: How do you see agile expanding into other areas of the IT business?

SB: Agile is one of the most disruptive technology waves we've seen in IT for many years. What started as a grassroots movement for developers to "work smarter" is now being scaled across geographies, teams and business units to drive the agile enterprise.

Across functions, we see agile moving into test, QA, production and deployment very quickly. More stakeholders are now involved, many of whom are not technical. Marketing, sales and customer service are all becoming part of the application design, build and deploy lifecycle.

TRP: What is your vision for DevOps, and how does Continuous Delivery support it?

SB: Our vision for DevOps is a unified IT organisation that is synchronised technically and highly collaborative on the cultural and process front. We see DevOps as the extension of agile by embracing the development and IT operations functions – gaining a consensus on how resources are provisioned and how applications are released quicker by removing functional silos.

To us, Continuous Delivery is the technical enabler of both agile and DevOps. We automate the cumbersome and time-consuming tasks that slow down the release of software code. Without technical automation all of the process improvements fall short and fail to deliver the desired result of releasing quality, needed software to the enterprise in a timely manner.

TRP: Why do you feel that Continuous Delivery is the "new agile"?

SB: Agile disrupted the software development world in a very big way. Now it's time to apply lean and agile principles to the release pipelines. One of the exciting things about working in the software industry is both the pace of change and how change is embraced as a part of improvement. Continuous Delivery is the lynchpin to help organisations speed the development and delivery of software within an Agile Business Environment. By accelerating the entire build-test-deploy cycle from weeks or months down to a few minutes, the promise of agile and DevOps can be realised.

TRP: How have companies been implementing Continuous Delivery up to now?

SB: Many organisations do continuous integration and call it Continuous Delivery. Many are using Jenkins and calling it good. Or, they are deploying their own home-grown process and tools to get the job done. All of these approaches fall short at scale. All of us providing Continuous Delivery solutions have a tall order to simplify a very complex and increasingly multi-faceted progression of tasks and hand-offs.

TRP: How do you see agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery maturing?

SB: We see more attention being paid to DevOps in general as an extension of agile. As stated above, there's a bit of what I would call "agile fatigue" in the market and with customers. People want to measure and have performance metrics. And, to be honest, many organisations that are so-called "agile" say they don't release software any faster than before. So, really, agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery are all working toward the same goal of making software release and deployment an automated, iterative and frequent occurrence.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.