Continuous Delivery Tools for Rapid Software Development Cycles 

by Alastair Wilkes in March 28th, 2022

Release, Deployment, Operations, and Monitoring Tools for the Optimal CD

Software development lifecycles are continuously increasing in velocity. Business demands to stay competitive in a crowded market, driven by customer expectations, have required development teams to seek processes to establish reliable, repeatable workflows. CI/CD has been widely adopted by organizations looking to rapidly deliver quality products.

Continuous Delivery (CD) serves as the second step in a CI/CD pipeline. Continuous Integration (CI), the first step, focuses on automating processes for developers to easily push changes into a central repository and to run security and quality checks on the builds as they submit them. It especially helps to minimize redundant work from the developers by merging branches and providing development teams with a central repository updated in real-time to reference.  

Continuous Delivery, on the other hand, takes what Continuous Integration has started and automates the passing of the builds within the repository over to a testing environment. Taking the changes that have been built, tested, and merged during Continuous Integration, effective Continuous Delivery removes the friction in release processes by establishing a reliable, automated workflow.

Continuous Delivery focused on automating the steps for deploying a build for safer releases. Continuous Delivery is different from Continuous Deployment, which extends the automation from a repository to the testing environment, and adds automated pushes to production, removing that final manual step. 

Related Article: Continuous Delivery vs Continuous Deployment

The CI/CD pipeline’s bottom line is to deliver software faster and to minimize steps that developers must take (so they can focus on what they do best: coding). Continuous Integration without Continuous Delivery is like a badly executed trust fall. Building up to a great release, but then falling flat on the floor if there aren’t any measures in place to help them continuously move the builds forward. 

Continuous Integration without Continuous Delivery is like a badly executed trust fall.

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While Continuous Integration is a prerequisite to effective Continuous Delivery, you can’t have effective Continuous Delivery without automation and reliable tooling.

Related Article: Continuous Integration Tools for Faster CI/CD

Continuous Delivery Process and Tool Categories

To understand the best tooling options for your Continuous Delivery pipeline, you should have a solid understanding of the processes and tool categories. When planning your pipeline configuration, be sure your tooling includes these CD pillars: QA and Testing, Deployment Monitoring and Verification, and Deployment Rollback.

Quality Assurance and Testing Tools

Following the Continuous Integration tests during the build process, Continuous Delivery includes testing and quality assurance. An effective Continuous Delivery tool or platform should empower you to include your test automation into your workflow.

Selenium

Selenium is a popular open-source automated testing suite for web applications across different browsers and platforms.

Katalon

An all-in-one test automation solution that integrates with your CD pipeline, Katalon lets you generate, execute, and orchestrate web, API, mobile, and desktop applications test automation. 

Launchable 

Our Predictive Test Selection harnesses an ML model to identify the most critical tests you should run to dramatically reduce testing cycle times. Launchable reduces your test suite size by streamlining how many tests you’re running on your applications during development, drastically speeding up your entire CI/CD pipeline.

Deployment Monitoring and Verification Tools

Part of Continuous Delivery is monitoring releases and verifying production deployments are successful. Continuous Delivery tools plug into your pipelines and automate the verification of successful deployments and unsuccessful releases.

PagerDuty 

This product enables teams to stay ahead of problems and improve outcomes across the entire business. When working with Continuous Delivery, it alerts development teams whenever complications or issues in the builds are detected, streamlining the corrections that need to happen. 

Datadog

This tool also works to streamline any corrections needed throughout the development lifecycle. It monitors tech stacks and apps, making it simple for developers to drill down whenever complications arise in the build. 

Atlassian Opsgenie

Similar to PagerDuty, this tool alerts team members whenever complications arise in the CI/CD pipeline.

Deployment Rollback and End-to-End CI/CD Tools

The Continuous Delivery pipeline includes automating the rollback of releases, an additional layer within your continuous workflow to roll deployments back that are identified within the monitoring and verification process as having issues. 

A few tooling options are built to operate from beginning to end of the CI/CD pipeline, covering Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment. Here are some of the market's top end-to-end tools helping make Continuous Delivery simple for your team to execute.

Jenkins

The leading open-source automation server, Jenkins provides hundreds of plugins to support building, deploying, and automating any project. 

AWS

This suite of services covers each stage of the CI/CD pipeline, meaning that you can easily use the same product across the board. 

JFrog

JFrog Pipelines empowers software teams to ship updates faster by automating DevOps processes in a continuously streamlined and secure way across all their teams and tools.

GitLab

Self-proclaimed as “The DevOps Platform”, GitLab ranks as a G2 Leader across DevOps categories and delivers an end-to-end solution in a single platform. 

What to Consider when Choosing Continuous Delivery Tools

Every organization needs a set of tools that work for its unique business model. Here are the top considerations when choosing CD tools or platforms that work for you.

1. Change Management and Governance

Within Continuous Delivery organizations and teams will have varying degrees of change management and governance practices in place. Whether utilizing a ticket approval or a more advanced version control system, having designated governance on identifying what is ready to be deployed to production.

2. Deployment Strategy

Part of Continuous Delivery involves effective practices used to change the running instance of your application. To reduce the variables for continued success, teams take different deployment strategies. Whether you run basic deployments, multi-service deployments, rolling deployments, canary deployments, or blue/green deployments, your deployment strategy is a part of your Continuous Delivery process. 

3. All-inclusive solution, or specialized

Does your team need an end-to-end solution (think Gitlab or Jenkins), or do you need to fill in gaps of a CI/CD pipeline that you’re already building out? And more importantly, can the tooling that you’ve already implemented talk to your new solution?

4. Scalability

What are the price points for the solution? Will you see a jump in price if your team grows? And does this solution line up with your plans in the long run? 

5. Buy-in from development teams

What are tools that your team already has experience using? If the majority of your developers enjoy using Jenkins and have done so before, why choose something else that they need to learn from scratch?

Final Thoughts on Continuous Delivery Tools

No matter what stage you’re at in developing your CI/CD pipeline - whether you’re pretty far along in creating Continuous Integration already or just now starting on a DevOps strategy - Continuous Delivery is an excellent practice to begin implementing into your approach. 

By making your developer’s lives easier with automated delivery from the repository to the test environment and preparing for deployment to production, you’re not only creating a happier work environment but also producing a better product for your customers, at the speed of DevOps. 

Intelligently selecting the right tests to run can speed up your Continuous Delivery pipeline. That’s why Launchable uses machine learning to ranks tests by importance to code changes and allows you to create a unique subset (based on this ranking) in real-time. Run a fraction of your test suite while still maintaining high confidence that if a failure exists it will be found. Discover Predictive Test Selection today. 


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