If you’re in the business of building and delivering software-services then you’ve probably already entertained the idea of Continuous Delivery (CD).
You may also be wondering if transitioning to a CD pipeline is truly worth stopping the production line for. Here’s the short answer: yes. The long answer is that delivering better software faster and with reduced risk is a win-win for both the company and the end user.
So how is everyone else doing it? Here’s where we introduce you to Spinnaker and give you the 101 on why it’s good for business.
Spinnaker is the open source CD platform built by Netflix and backed by large tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Oracle.
It describes itself as “battle-tested in production by hundreds of teams over millions of deployments” and currently powers over 4,000 deployments a day at Netflix. With over 100 million users streaming content worldwide, it’s safe to say that Spinnaker is the reason we can binge our favorite shows without a software glitch in sight.
In a blog post by Google’s Product Manager Christopher Sanson, he explains how Spinnaker integrates seamlessly with your existing Continuous Integration (CI) workflows and facilitates quick and easy deployments to multiple cloud providers (like AWS, GCP, etc.). So if your priority is to streamline your build and deploy process so that software changes can be delivered to your users with minimal risk and delay, then Spinnaker is your safest bet.
Here are a few benefits and what other companies have to say about it.
1. Gain a competitive advantage
The faster your software delivery, the better you’ll adapt to the rapidly-changing market.
Andrew Leung, Senior Software Engineer at Netflix explained at a meetup how their goal is always to out-innovate everyone else. Spinnaker allows them to do so by accelerating the time it takes to get new features to market.
While other services are still dragging through manual testing and stressing over the next big release, Netflix has already quietly deployed a couple hundred times and are A/B testing to guarantee the best user experience. This way, they’re able to keep their users happy and quickly deploy bug fixes without interrupting anyone’s episode of Sense8.
2. Reduce the risk of bad deployments
Having users throw their arms up in frustration over yet another software failure isn’t exactly the best way to retain customers.
In the free ebook by Spinnaker on Continuous Delivery, the authors tell how long software release cycles increase the chance of bugs, upstream incompatibilities, and longer fixing times since developers have long moved onto other things. This can all be solved with frequent deployments where features are released quickly and can be fixed while they’re still fresh in the developer’s mind. If something is definitely wrong, Spinnaker also makes it easy to roll back the changes.
At Waze, bugs kept slipping into production due to their complex, large-scale deployments to multiple cloud providers. So they switched to Spinnaker and now rely on it for 100% of their production deployments. In a guest post on the Google Cloud Platform Blog, the company gratefully declared,
“Spinnaker allows us to [release new bug fixes] while also helping keep multi-cloud deployments and rollbacks simple, easy and reliable.”
3. Increase productivity and job satisfaction
One of the biggest benefits of CD is it takes care of the tedious tasks involved in deployment, which frees up your team to work on bigger and better things. Automating these tasks reduces manual labor and also leads to long-term savings since a developer’s time is more expensive than tools.
Production companies using Spinnaker have unanimously seen improvement in developer productivity and efficiency. Their jobs become much more interesting when they were able to automate boring, repetitive tasks so they could work on bug fixes, UI updates, or breakthrough features.
Productive developers = happy developers.
In their post, Waze states how Spinnaker has saved their own team from hours of unimpressive work during deployment.
“Spinnaker abstracts many of the particulars of each cloud provider, allowing our developers to focus on making Waze even better for our users instead of concerning themselves with the low-level details of multiple cloud providers.
How to get started
Yes, it takes time and resources to transition to a CD pipeline. You can’t just stride into the office and say, “Right, starting today we’re all doing continuous delivery.” Nor is this something you can fling over to the junior developers while your best people keep working on your main product. But help is available.
When Target began using the platform sometime last year, they were assisted by a handful of engineers from the Cloud Platform group to make it all happen. They also collaborated directly with Netflix and found significant help in Spinnaker’s large, open source community (which you can join via their Slack channel).
To get started with Spinnaker, visit their official website where you’ll find even more resources on how the platform works. You’ll also find an invitation to join the annual Spinnaker Summit and get the insiders scoop on all things open source for enterprises.
With over 500 attendees and 100+ speakers from leading companies in open source software, if CD is on your mind, then this Summit is where you need to be. Book your ticket here.