Achieving Continuous Delivery is no child’s play as your team should be equipped with certain technical capabilities because deploying the code into production on demand throughout the software delivery cycle is not easy in any way. It is also important to acknowledge that it’s not just the technical practices that will help you achieve Continuous Delivery. It has to be coupled along with good management practices as well. So as a first step, we will be focusing on the key technical capabilities that drive Continuous Delivery in this blog.
Keeping the application code in version control alone will not help you achieve Continuous Delivery as you would have to do all the deployments manually when both the system and application configurations stay out of version control. Since manual tasks stall continuous delivery (CD), you have to automate the delivery pipeline to achieve CD.
Automated unit & acceptance tests should be kicked off as soon as developers commit the code in version control. The simple underlying logic here is that if the developers are provided with faster feedback, they will be able to work on the changes and fix the issues instantaneously. This advantage alone doesn’t make test automation a vital component in the Continuous Delivery pipeline. It is also very reliable in ensuring that only high-quality software gets delivered to the end-users.
But that doesn’t mean you can just use flaky test automation scripts as they would only produce false positives and negatives and not add any value to the Continuous Delivery pipeline. So if you want your software to be more reliable and resilient, writing and adding robust automation scripts to the pipeline is the best way to go about it. If at all you find any of the scripts to be unstable, you can move them to a quarantine suite and run them independently until it becomes stable
Test Data Management (TDM)
As mentioned earlier, manual works delay continuous delivery. But at the same time, if your automated test scripts have to be manually fed with test data at frequent intervals, it will cause delays in the delivery. This is a clear sign that your automated test suites are not fulfilling their purpose. You can overcome this roadblock by creating a test data management (TDM) tool to which you can upload all the adequate data required for automated script execution. So, your scripts will call the TDM API to get the required data instead of getting it from an Excel or a YAML file.
In addition to that, once the TDM tool reaches its threshold, it should be able to pull and allocate more data automatically from the system DB. As an automation testing services company, we have a TDM for automation testing alone. We feed the data to it once every month and as a result, the automation test scripts no longer have to wait for the test data to be fed since the adequate data has already been allocated.
A long-lived branch leads your team towards reworking and merging issues that can’t be fixed immediately. So developers should make sure to create a feature branch, commit the changes within 24 hours into the trunk, and kill the feature branch. If a commit makes a build unstable, everyone on the team should jump in to resolve the issue and not push any changes into the trunk until the merge is fixed.
When a developer pushes the changes from a short-lived branch, your team will resolve the merge issues quickly as the push will be considered a small batch. Trunk-based development is a key enabler for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. So, if the developers commit the changes into the trunk multiple times a day, and fix the merge issues then & there, then the trunk will be release-able.
The information security process should not be carried out after releasing the software. Rather, it should be incorporated from the very beginning. Since fixing security-related issues is a time-consuming effort, integrating information security-related practices into the daily work plan of your teams will be instrumental in achieving Continuous Delivery.
Technical and Management practices are crucial for enabling Continuous Delivery. As a software testing company, we use these technical practices with our development team that works on developing automation testing tools. Following such practices alone is not a game-changer. Your team needs to learn and improve the process continuously. Continuous Improvement is pivotal in building a solid development pipeline for Continuous Delivery.