Thursday, December 23, 2010

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Fowler)) If you didn't already know that the key to reliably deploy quality software is to take a cross-functional, full-lifecycle approach, Jez Humble and David Farley's book Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation will help you to understand. Much like Jim Coplien describes in  Lean Architecture: for Agile Software Development the "secret" to successful lean projects is to work with "Everyone, All Together, from Early On."

While the authors have experience in, an a pre-disposition for, agile techniques, the principles described in  this book apply to any organization, whatever the process,  though if you take the approach to heart, you will find yourself becoming more agile, which is to say, more responsive to customer needs.

The book  covers the full lifecycle from requirements, and design, and coding, to acceptance testing, deployment and operations. There are even discussions on test design, data migration and performance optimization and capacity planning. All of this underscores the point that the goal of building software is delivering it to users, a point which some other books understate. Continuous Delivery develops the concept of a Deployment Pipeline, showing you the impact development and testing practices have on deployment and operations, and emphasizing the value of involving the operations team early in the development process.

There is a lot of material here, but there are also pointers to other resources. In the SCM and release management are, the authors build on works including Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical IntegrationRelease It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software (Pragmatic Programmers) and Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World.

Not only do you walk away from  this book with an understanding of how to start implementing a continuous deployment pipeline, you may also find yourself writing down a list of things to try, and tools to use. While not a tool-centric book, the authors provide many examples of tools to help you implement each phase of the process.

Having written about the version and release management process before, and how it relates to architecture and organization, I was excited get a review copy and see the authors give a thorough discussion of how the SCM and Release Management practices relate to the rest of the software development ecosystem.

While having a lot of material, the book is well organized and written. It's not a quick read, and you'll want to have a notebook or post-its handy to capture the idea it helps you to generate, but if you are interested in improving your deployment process you will find this book very valuable, whether you are a developer, tester, release engineer, or someone who manages people in those roles. When you finish this book you will not only have knowledge about how to implement a deployment pipeline, but  also the encouragement to know that it is possible, no matter how complex your project might seem.

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