Deployment automation is becoming more of a requirement for software development teams that are looking to remain competitive. While there are many benefits, there are also a number of areas to consider before implementing a deployment automation solution as part of your software development and release process.
More and more, deployment automation is becoming less of a luxury and more of a requirement for software development teams that are looking to remain competitive in the current marketplace. It allows you to deploy your applications across the various environments in the development process—all the way to production—in a more efficient, reliable, and predictable way. At the end of the day, solutions that automate your software release processes improve the productivity of both the Dev and Ops teams and enable them and the business to develop faster, accomplish more, and ultimately build better software that is released more frequently and functions more reliably for the end-user.
While there are many benefits to automating your deployments, there are a number of areas you should give thought to before implementing a deployment automation solution as part of your software development and release process.
Primarily, an automated deployment solution allows you to write your processes once, get them exactly the way you want, and then automatically run them—and reuse the procedures every single time you deploy a new application or update across different environments.
The Benefits of Automated Deployments
With that in mind, let’s start by taking a look at some of the biggest benefits of deployment automation and why you should consider making it part of your development process.
First, automated deploys are repeatable and much less error-prone. Once you have your app update ready to go, it can be easily deployed in the same process, without the possibility of someone accidentally typing the wrong thing when configuring a step.
Second, automated deployments mean you can give anyone you desire the access to deploy software. Any stakeholder in the project will have the ability to push the launch button (with the right security or permissions mechanisms in place). You won’t have to rely on just a handful of employees with intimate knowledge of the fundamental code of the update in order to execute a deployment. Developers and QA people, and in some cases even business owners, could easily push an update to their respective environments, rather than having to “get in line” and wait for Ops to update their infrastructure and application, while not being able to move forward with their tasks in the meantime. Essentially, the knowledge of how to release your software is in the design—not in the developer’s brain that coded it.
This is particularly important because with manual deployments, the ability to deploy an update is often in the hands of the one or two people who built it. If only they have the permissions necessary to execute a deployment, it can leave the company in a lurch if there is any kind of pressing need to take immediate action, such as fixing a bug in production or releasing more frequently to stay competitive in the market.
Another huge benefit to automated development is that engineers’ time is freed up to spend on actual, meaningful development, rather than scripting, doing manual deployments, or fixing failed processes, which should have been handled by an automated process. Performing a manual deployment is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, so if you are relying on manual updates for your software, that means you have folks like your developers and testers spending their time deploying updates when they could be spending their time building the “next big thing” that will make your software better.
Lastly, automated deployments have what’s called a low overhead. While they take a bit of work to initially set up, the long-term overhead is much less than manually deploying updates. This means you can release more software updates, more frequently. This is desirable for many reasons, some of which we’ll go over later in this article.