How frequently does a good agile team deploy to production? Not every team is capable of deploying "on every commit". What does it take for a team to even start deploying at the end of each sprint, or each week, or each day?

Most companies don't realize that deploying more frequently often requires both significant technical change as well as cultural change. In this talk, I'll guide you through what it takes to deploy more frequently, both from the technical side of setting up pipelines as well as the organizational side of removing red tape. I'll draw on the unique challenges that teams must overcome at each step of the way, from deploying once a month all the way down to full continuous delivery. If your team has been struggling to go faster, come see how you can change to get there. And if you already are at full continuous delivery, come see how to go even faster than that!

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

  • Introduction / About Me (1 min)
  • Meet the team (fictitious team) (4 min)
    • Current State: Deploys once per month (basically waterfall)
    • Deployments are manual, error-prone, dreaded
    • Weekend Downtime
    • Environments are all special snowflakes
    • Some automation in Jenkins for Continuous Integration
    • Sends out release notes email
  • Deploying After Each Sprint (8 min)
    • Must-Haves
      • Team needs to get a handle on environment inconsistency (configuration management)
    • Nice-To-Haves
      • Team should start thinking about automated deployments to environments
    • Cultural
      • Team needs to think more about getting code "ready to ship" by the end of the sprint
      • Team really needs to start caring about pipeline status
      • More frequent deployments doesn't equate to more risk
  • Deploying Once Per Week (8 min)
    • Must-Haves
      • Team needs to automate their deployments
      • Need to have a zero-downtime deployment, can't keep deploying every weekend (people will quit!!!)
    • Nice-To-Haves
      • Team should start thinking about feature toggles
      • Try to eliminate any remaining reasons to SSH into a server
    • Cultural
      • With more frequent deploys other teams (Security, Systems Engineering, etc) are going to start complaining
      • How does the team manage what version to deploy? Tags, Unique ID, named release?
      • Do Executives / Higher-ups really need to give us "approval" in order to deploy?
      • Why do we need a "QA" team? Can they keep up with us?
  • Deploying Every 2-3 days (8 min)
    • Must-Haves
      • High confidence in the deployment pipeline
      • Unfinished/Unready code must be behind a toggle!
      • Logs are distributed. Developers never SSH into a server for any reason!
    • Nice-To-Haves
      • Smoke tests for environments
      • Automated Acceptance Tests to test features
      • Separated pipeline for infrastructure hardening
      • Monitoring / Alerts for system performance
    • Cultural
      • Who on the team should be allowed to deploy? Should the process be simple enough that non-developers can?
      • If our team is using some kind of tagging system for deployments we'll need to find a way to automate it
      • Bugs are being resolved a lot more quickly now
      • Roll forward vs. Roll back
  • Deploying Every Day / Every Commit (8 min)
    • Must-Haves
      • Team cannot let the pipeline get blocked!
      • Smoke tests that run after each deployment
      • Monitoring / Alerts setup and being used (we need to know if the system goes down!)
    • Should-Haves
      • Automated notifications to interested parties on deploy
    • Cultural
      • Change of mindset: Deployments no longer signify functionality being released, toggles do!
      • A small number of bugs in production is ok! Fixing them is easier than preventing them
      • The team doesn't "test to make sure everything is still ok in prod"...ever!
  • Can you go faster than "on every commit"? (5 min)
    • Upper limit on how fast your pipeline can deploy
    • To go faster, consider event driven architecture
    • Multiple teams work on the same feature, plug-in solutions that respond to the same events
      • Example: algorithms that generate sales/deals for customers
  • Summary (3 min)

Learning Outcome

  • Attendees should leave the talk with a full understanding of the different challenges for deploying at these intervals:
    • Once per sprint
    • Every few days
    • Daily
    • On Every Commit
  • Attendees should be familiarized with common technical solutions to these problems, including:
    • Automation through delivery pipelines in Jenkins (or some other CI tool)
    • Feature toggles and their role in code
    • The role of automated acceptance testing and smoke testing (especially when you go fast)
    • Using configuration management tools to create consistency across environments
    • Strategies for versioning and dealing with "in transition" states
  • Attendees should be able to answer to these common cultural questions:
    • Does more frequent doesn't equate to more risk?
    • How do you ensure quality without a dedicated QA team of manual testers?
    • Who should be responsible for authorizing deployments to production?
    • Do all deployments deliver functionality?
    • Are bug counts the only way to measure quality?

Target Audience

Developers or DevOps engineers who are tired of long deployments and want to know how to achieve Continuous Delivery

Prerequisite

Some general familiarity with software development.  The talk will keep things high level though we will be discussing a lot of DevOps concepts that are technical in nature.  

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