Why are deployment pipelines important?

I’ve been using deployment pipelines since 2011 starting with GoCD and then other tools. A few months ago, I joined DevOps experts Helen Beal of Ranger4, and Sam Fell & Anders Wallgren of Electric Cloud to discuss deployment pipelines for modern software delivery as part of the Continuous Discussions (#c9d9) series (episode 88).

(YouTube video segments below)

Key takeaways:

  1. The concept of the deployment pipeline was defined and popularised by the 2010 book Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and Dave Farley.
  2. Deployment pipelines are a really key concept for modern software delivery – all changes flow through the deployment pipeline.
  3. The fast feedback from deployment pipelines can and should completely change the way we approach software. We can expect rapid feedback on changes which encourages us to make smaller, more frequent code check-ins.
  4. Value Stream Mapping can be a powerful way to uncover large wait times in the delivery flow.
  5. A “walking skeleton” deployment pipelines – essentially modelling the current approval/change flow but with empty stages in a tool – helps us to sense-check the current state: “do we really need an approval gate at this point?”

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Diversity in tech conferences and meetups – how and why

I have been helping to promote greater diversity in tech conferences and tech meetups since 2012. Here is my thinking on how to promote diversity in tech events and why I think diversity is important.

Update: please first read this post from Trisha Gee: What Can Conferences Do To Attract More Women Speakers? and then this post by Jez Humble on How To Create A More Diverse Tech Conference. Trisha and Jez make many excellent points; in this post I try to offer some additional perspectives.

Since 2012 I have been running several meetups and conferences with a technology focus: London Continuous Delivery meetup group (2500+ members with around 80 different speakers in total), PIPELINE Conference (5 events since 2014 with around 50 different speakers), CodeMill digital skills meetup, and Assembly Conference. I have been keen to attract and promote a diverse range of speakers and attendees to all these events, and I think (with help from amazing team members) we have been fairly successful in promoting diversity in these tech events.

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Much of this diversity improvement has been focused on encouraging more women to speak and attend, but of course there is more to diversity than just gender; recently, I have tried to address other aspects too, including ethnic background, social class, and also personality “type” (particularly more introverted people).

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Continuous Deployment is a niche practice; Continuous Delivery is more fundamental.

Summary: many people confuse continuous deployment (pushing changes to live systems many times per day) with Continuous Delivery (reliable software releases through build, test, and deployment automation). Here is why I think that Continuous Delivery is the more fundamental practice.

(Update 1, 2017-11-02: clarified ‘continuous deployment’ and the on-premises context)

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Things I (Don’t) Like About Continuous Delivery – LondonCD meetup June 2017

This is part 4 of a 4-part series of articles based on discussions at the LondonCD meetup group on 12 June 2017. The other posts are linked at the end of this article.

Our 4th Open Space discussion challenged people to identify the things that they don’t like about the Continuous Delivery book: things that don’t work in practice, things that are plain wrong, etc. – a slightly cheeky session!

tl;dr: Jez Humble and Dave Farley – authors of Continuous Delivery – did not get anything wrong in their book but they “did not say enough” about the culture/people aspect of Continuous Delivery. People and culture are tricky – who knew?! 🙂

Continue reading Things I (Don’t) Like About Continuous Delivery – LondonCD meetup June 2017

Continuous Delivery for Legacy/Heritage Systems – LondonCD meetup June 2017

This is part 3 of a 4-part series of articles based on discussions at the LondonCD meetup group on 12 June 2017. The other posts are linked at the end of this article.

Applying the principles and practices of Continuous Delivery for new software is fairly straightforward (at least, until you deal with data and databases). However, existing “legacy” systems that were built without many automated tests and without much concern for repeatable deployments of discrete functionality pose a challenge for moving to Continuous Delivery.

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