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Traditional SDLC v/s Continuous Software Development

The Software industry, like the human species, has undergone certain evolutionary changes to figure out what is most suitable for them. The challenges, and limitations of the traditional Waterfall methodology in a traditional SDLC pushed the developers to learn from their grueling experiences and move on to the much efficient Agile model.

Not only did Agile save teams from major development pitfalls, but it also helped in achieving immense business value. However, soon it was realized that the charms of the revolutionary Agile model had drained out too. In the rapidly evolving digital world with cut-throat competition, this was certainly inevitable.

To constantly push new features into the hands of their customers, companies are compelled to deliver code much faster and speed up the software release process. A blend of contemporary delivery approaches - DevOps, CD (Continuous Development), CI (Continuous Integration), and CD (Continuous Delivery) has enabled the Software Industry to deploy code to production and release it to users multiple times a day.

“Companies that can successfully implement Continuous Development throughout their organization often find dramatic strategic benefits.” - Harvard Business Review.

Continuous Development (CD) involves testing, updating, releasing, and measuring applications in a continual fashion as they are under development. In simple terms, CD, “like agile, began as a software development methodology. Rather than improving software in one large batch, updates are made continuously, piece-by-piece, enabling software code to be delivered to customers as soon as it is completed and tested.”

CD empowers a rapid software release schedules that iterative programming models like Agile and DevOps methods require for modern SaaS development.

Author Tim O’Reilly asserts that delivering software as a service (SaaS) using an “iterative, user-centered, data-driven development” approach is one of the core contributions to the modern approach. Users play a critical role in the popularity of continuous software development, acting as beta-testers who contribute to the evolution of a product by giving feedback through interaction with a web-based application.

Companies that develop software as an asset must continuously find ways to create value for their customers and competitive advantages for their business processes. Continuous iteration of your product and features helps you win in the marketplace, as does the actionable feedback that results from implementing continuous software development practices like CD. With continuous delivery, your software is in a state of readiness, so you manually control the timing of the final deployment to a production environment. Proceeding in this manner is as much a business decision as it is a technical strategy.

For example, product development teams at Amazon monitor an application under development in the user environment (in real time), measure what is working and what could be improved, and inform future development with continuous feedback from the system. To perform this work and deploy software thousands of times a day, Amazon uses iterative programming models, like Agile software development and Kanban, DevOps organizational methods, and technical practices like continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment.

Former Netflix engineer and cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft is an advocate of the continuous delivery model. In 2009, Netflix adopted CD and the use of microservices architecture to develop and deploy applications. Microservices refers to developing small, reusable building blocks of code to ensure that the application under development is not affected by the increase in the velocity of deployments. The goal is to shorten the time it takes to deploy changes in code or configuration.

Organizations that can deliver innovative software changes to their end customers swiftly have a competitive edge over the others. Correspondingly, it becomes essential to enhance the rate of innovation and ensure that all the hurdles in SDLC are properly mitigated.

Implementation of the CI/CD pipeline in an Organization's SDLC will not only ensure a collaborative integration between testing, development, and operations teams but also enhance the level of innovation and allow fast decision making. This would lead to functionally correct and secure software updates being delivered to end-users on a regular basis. And most importantly, it would enable you to adapt and respond effectively to the emerging cyber security and other business challenges.


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