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Unbounded: Where 3 Continuous Processes Lie Along the DevOps Continuum

01/22/2016 by: The SunView Team

Typical office work should be goal-oriented - every task has a beginning, middle and end. If employees feel like their jobs possess as much finality as well-oiled hamster wheel, they're bound to snap.

But as business evolves digitally, DevOps reminds us we cannot confuse sense of completion with complacency. Moreover, agile software production only matches the intensity the market demands from its service providers. What matters most is how quickly these organizations oversee shifting customer needs, execute configuration changes and release updated applications. This means retooling the definition of a "finished product" in the world of software - in a sense, all customer-facing IT deployments must be forever adaptable, ready to undergo change in perpetuity.

With that in mind, companies utilizing a DevOps team will acquire continuous processes, all of which might blend together, losing their individuality and operational efficacy. Let's split up these terms and define exactly where they fit along the Mobius strip of DevOps change management workflows.

Continuous Integration
When revising a class assignment or an essay, the red pen edits a writer makes can overtake the project entirely. The result is an unintelligible mishmash of words with no coherence or argument. The same can happen with code. As software developers and operations personnel work in tandem to update applications, a system of checks and balances must exist to ensure functionality after every change.

New or reformulated code passes through a CI server, which tests and validates changes as a measure of quality assurance. At this point, nothing has reached the client - this is merely the playground where all the disparate code composed by nodes in a DevOps team come together to gauge compatibility. Integration into this system, as the name suggests, happens multiple times over a given day as a form of risk management.

Continuous Delivery
Though continuous delivery might lead one to think it pertains solely to application release after changes have been made, it's actually more "big picture" than that.

CD refers to leveraging deployment speed against the efficacy of the change at hand. Ostensibly, DevOps teams both prevent their service providers from wasting time on a single problem or product update while also guaranteeing the changes made result in software optimized to the customer's liking. As explained, a change manager is the fulcrum on which these opposing forces balance. By identifying hang ups in a roll-out and simplifying workflow, change management keeps continuous delivery in check and constantly improving.

Continuous Deployment
Continuous delivery and deployment are often treated like identical twins when in fact they're fraternal at best. Continuous deployment refers to the more technical aspects concerning the continuous delivery "balance," how changes undergo the practice of testing. According to Accenture, agile systems depend on a lot of automation, but under continuous delivery, DevOps processes always end with a manual ignition that launches changed applications. Continuous deployment, on the other hand, establishes a set of parameters that must be met before a system automatically releases changes. The difference between the two lies in who - or what - throws the final switch.