According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), continuous development (what we usually call continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD)) will change the world as much as the Agile revolution did. (See the original article here.)
But will it? We have a tendency as technical professionals to view Agile as a broad way of talking about our daily standups or SCRUM. But from the HBR’s point of view, it meant more than that.
Listen to what they describe and see if you agree with their view:
“While Agile began as a product development innovation, it sparked a corporate strategy and process revolution. Agile development laid the intellectual groundwork for the Lean movement in entrepreneurship, which further pushed business leaders to organize their business model and product development work around a series of experiments, testing critical hypothesis along the way.”
Sounds like it was written by the HBR, to be sure, but it’s a reasonable idea that Agile yielded companies more comfortable with a series of experiments and adjustments.
The article’s authors say that CI/CD, which they call “continuous development,” will have a bigger impact, even, and has started in the “bowels of technology companies and startups.”
It’s OK if we want to take slight offense at being described as being in our company’s lower digestive tracts.
The article suggests that only 20% of IT teams are using some form of what they call “continuous development.” Regardless, the article tells managers to pay attention: the benefits include faster time to market, maximize engineering productivity (those dreaded words), fix errors faster and experiment more rapidly.
The idea of the CI/CD revolution affecting more than just software development is interesting. But they didn’t think it through.
The key element missing in all of this discussion about experimenting is an emphasis on software quality. It’s a bit contradictory on the surface that more rapid software delivery increases software quality, but as actual IT pros and developers we know how that works.
Because we’ve included significant testing components to our processes - like load testing - we can deliver better software faster. Load testing in particular, more than most testing, helps illuminate flaws in the whole delivery component of CI/CD. That delivery component touches more than just code - it involves everything we now call ‘DevOps’ - infrastructure, databases, code, and so forth.
So: do you think CI/CD will affect the whole of business just like Agile has? We are not sure we’re ready to make that grand of a pronouncement, but if it can involve better testing, and applying the DevOps ideal to more systems, we’ll get behind it.