The ability to reliably deploy at scale is critical as it ties directly to revenue generation and customer service.
“At scale” is a popular buzzword among DevOps practitioners. As customer bases grow and the role of reliable software drives increased business value, businesses, and development teams are strategizing how to expand their operations to meet the demand while delivering a quality experience.
Scalability is about more than just application performance – teams must be able to increase flexibility, stability, consistency, quality, and affordability to provide the optimal customer experience. Meeting user expectations requires reliable deployments for shortened feedback loops, quicker iterations, accelerated time-to-market, and more stable changes, a task that grows increasingly complex with expanding audiences and environments.
Deployment orchestration and automation allow your people to execute deployments reliably while dedicating more time and effort to your competitive advantage – your software. By eliminating tedious tasks and simplifying complex processes, developers have more flexibility to create quality software and differentiated value.
Every organization wants to create a simple, reliable, secure, and repeatable deployment process, but that solution looks different for everyone. Consider this analogy: Some businesses need an interstate trucking network to successfully deliver their product, while others require only a local delivery truck. Large enterprises with sizeable teams, substantial audiences, and advanced capabilities may benefit from a tool with all the bells and whistles. Smaller organizations with fewer people and limited resources require a simpler solution.
Let’s explore how to determine your company’s ideal approach to deploying at scale.
See also: A Key Factor Your DevOps is Missing: Process Discovery
Unique Deployment Needs
According to a recent survey, more than half of teams face challenges related to too many manual steps, lack of consistency, and difficulty deploying new versions alongside live versions. The respondents indicated that poor processes and workflows were the primary cause — an essential factor to consider when identifying a solution.
Often, enterprise development teams push thousands of commits each day to many locations while maintaining elite DORA metrics (deployment frequency, lead time for changes, mean time to recovery, and change failure rate). As the number of commits increases, so can the deployment complexity, cost, and the potential need for rollbacks. These teams have the capabilities and capacity to operate complex imperative processes to deploy on demand and thus require solutions with extensive options. Returning to the delivery analogy, these organizations need an interstate trucking system with intricate logistics.
Contrast elite developers with smaller operations releasing updates less often or to fewer services. These businesses still face growing customer and market demands. Somehow, they must improve their software quality and DORA metrics to meet expectations without the robust infrastructure supporting larger teams. These developers don’t require a feature-laden solution, as they cannot maximize its benefits. In the end, certain tools lead to wasted money and unnecessary complexity. These teams don’t need to manage a nationwide trucking operation because they only make a few deliveries around town.
Before finding a solution that meets your organization’s software deployment needs, you must first understand what challenges you are looking to solve. Consider:
- Pain points
- Timeline (length of time to migrate/adopt)
The end goal: a streamlined process that allows developers to tackle tasks driving business value.
Scaling with Continuous Deployment
Reliable deployment ties directly to revenue generation and customer service. More than 80% of IT surveyed leaders prioritize reliability. How can development teams successfully deploy at scale? Orchestration and automation. Continuous deployment enables both.
Imperative approaches have served us well in the past but are not scalable in today’s competitive market. The paradigm works for elite teams needing tight control over the process while keeping flexibility and customization but eats up valuable time for lower-level teams. Platform engineers and DevOps practitioners spend extensive time building and maintaining deployment pipelines and processes, the sophistication of which inhibits deployment frequency and increases complexity, which can lead to increased change failure rates. Developers run extensive manual tests that introduce human errors and create inefficiencies. The entire deployment process must be closely monitored to ensure proper execution and initiate a rollback if problems arise.
Many teams have turned to homegrown solutions for cost efficiency. Unfortunately, these tools lack scalability in people, processes, and technology. DIY deployment platforms do not accommodate increasing demand, complexity, and expectations. People must maintain and update the solution and may default to a myopic approach to deployment, focusing on a checklist rather than the big picture of improving development processes and software quality.
To scale deployments efficiently, teams need to make the process straightforward, predictable, repeatable, and automated from end to end. Continuous deployment orchestrates testing, security scanning, and promotions across each cluster and environment (regardless of quantity) and reduces the risk of negatively impacting your customers. Developments teams can automatically progress deployments in a controlled manner while gathering continuous customer experience feedback in production and throughout environments and rolling back poorly performing changes with a single click.
Orchestration and automation simplify deployment, enabling your team to achieve deployment success while focusing on developing better code. A reliable, repeatable deployment process creates consistency, stability, and flexibility. More efficient use of time and resources contributes to cost savings. The resulting quality improvements generate revenue.
When evaluating tools and processes, you should consider these questions:
- What is the cost?
- How does it fit with developer skills and resources?
- Does it improve your developers’ experience?
- Does it help build differentiated value for our customers and market?
- How many resources will be committed away from the core business?
- How does the solution’s performance compare to benchmarks?
- Is the solution capable of growing with the business?
- How long until there is a return on investment?
- Does this improve time-to-market, flexibility, stability, and customer experience?
Ultimately, the decision comes down to available resources, the complexity of the business environment, customer demands, and production expectations. Look deeply at your current unique organizational needs and anticipate future challenges as you review features and functionalities. At the heart of a successful platform lies a secure and reliable deployment strategy that maintains an efficient, effective workflow regardless of scale.