The Truth About Continuous Delivery and Automation

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Continuous Delivery (CD), DevOps, and automation offer huge opportunities for innovation at enterprise organizations.

As more and more companies leverage cloud-based software, the pace of application release is speeding at a breakneck pace. In truth, differentiated custom applications have become revenue-critical for many organizations. And likewise the pressure to release higher-quality applications in less time has increased.

In recent research, we confirmed these facts. We discovered that custom applications are the most popular build (at 65% of companies), and that a majority of organizations are deploying code to production multiple times a week. When asked how this increase in frequency of code delivery impacts the production environment, the top answer was:

“Operations is spending more time on production troubleshooting.”

The truth about Continuous Delivery (CD) is we simply can’t live without it, if we wish to keep up. We must flip the switch on CD, and embrace automation in order to survive.

In this age dominated by on-demand everything, AI, and driverless cars, some confusion still exists around Continuous Delivery, and other DevOps automation technology.

In the following paragraphs, I hope to dispel a few myths, and offer my point of view on the amazing benefits of Continuous Delivery (CD).

But to begin with, where does the fear of automation come from?

History Proves Automation Carries Positive Impacts

As technology and digital workplace transformations begin to drastically impact our work lives, automation has likewise begun to ruffle some feathers. But, lessons from the automation history books prove that the pros outweigh the cons in a big way.

Automation is nothing new, and neither is resistance to it. Travel back to 1928, and you’d read a New York Times article declaring, “March of the machines makes idle hands.”

But, factories certainly didn’t cripple the US workforce. Quite the opposite.

When computers began to appear in offices, and robots began to take hold in factories, President John F. Kennedy famously remarked that one of the major domestic challenges of the 1960s was to, “maintain full employment at a time when automation is replacing men.”

Again, history proves that more jobs and innovation were seen in these sectors due to automation.

When it comes to Continuous Delivery, many like to make similar doomsday predictions. And the fear boils down to a line of thinking that go something like this:

“It’s going to eliminate or change my job, which will reduce the influence I have, or disenfranchise me…”

While these fears are relevant, they are unfounded. Continuous Delivery eliminates menial tasks, freeing up developers for more innovative work. And there’s no lack of innovation needed in today’s marketplace.

These fears should simply not overshadow the amazing innovation Continuous Delivery and automation can unlock.

The Truth of Continuous Delivery Automation

The shift in focus from menial to innovative means there are huge opportunities for developers to do bigger, greater, more essential enterprise tasks.

But what does Continuous Delivery really mean? People often say, “automate everything and shift it left!” What are the tasks they intend to shift?

In its simplest form, adopting a shift-left philosophy means moving select manual tasks earlier in the development lifecycle, in order to streamline process.

These usually include:

  • Job scheduling
  • Workload tasks
  • Code testing

None of these manual tasks are “core competency” skills, or even highly desirable for developers. Automating them by moving them up in the application delivery lifecycle actually empowers developers to become more integral in the feedback loop, and frees them up to focus on essential tasks. Continuous Delivery means less time wasted on manual scripting and job scheduling, and more time building killer applications.

  • Here’s what automation means for Continuous Delivery and why it’s essential to DevOps:
    • It speeds delivery
    • It reduces manual work and manual scripting
    • It increases stability and reliability

But how does Continuous Delivery work in the real world?

We recently partnered with Navistar, a leading commercial truck manufacturer, to help them harness big data to improve their overall digital efficiency. The results were nothing short of amazing:

  • The challenge: Big data was requiring teams to spend significant time and resources aggregating, normalizing, moving, and processing this data.
  • The solution: Automation with Control-M allowed them to:
    • Gain 5x faster creation of actionable data
    • Saved engineers 20% of their work time by automatically collecting and reporting on the results of cybersecurity vulnerability scans
    • Application developers are now actively engaged in job scheduling, freeing up schedulers’ time for strategic activities

Another great example of Continuous Delivery in action was the work we did with Ingram Micro, a wholesale IT products and services giant. As a technology distributor, a top customer pain point was getting products delivered faster. Ingram Micro leveraged Control-M to ensure product delivery happened fast, orders remained accurate, and their overall production environment remained bug free.

Here are some of the amazing results achieved:

  • Zero downtime since automating manual processes with Control-M
  • Unlocked holistic view of entire supply chain environment
  • 30,000 jobs scheduled with a million jobs run each week
  • Without Control-M the 6 person team would need to work 5x more

“If Control-M was removed from our environment for a day, our company would come to a complete standstill.”
– Don Snios, Sr. Manager Operations Scheduling, Ingram Micro

As demonstrated in the examples above, Continuous Delivery with Control-M unlocks greater efficiency through automation, improves revenue, and ultimately contributes to growth. It creates innovative tasks and more creative jobs for developers.

A Renewed Focus on Innovation Unlocked by Automation

Like any new technology, automation through Continuous Delivery will require an evolution. But by demonstrating the benefits for leadership, and everyone in the trenches, getting automation off the ground is well within reach.

Generally speaking, millennial staff tend to be more comfortable with automation, as they are natives in a rapidly changing technology landscape.

Help your developers, software engineers, and other IT professionals understand automation in the broader historical technology picture. This is simply another step towards greater efficiency, not an attempt to displace, or devalue anyone’s work.

Here are some potential talking points, and questions you should ask:

  • How much time do application developers spend on manual scripting?
  • Do any developers actually enjoy this step in the process?
  • What core competency projects and initiatives have been pushed off due to time wasted on manual tasks?
  • How will automation get developers focused on innovating?
  • Which initiatives and projects will developers focus on with more time at their disposal?

Want to hear from 13 top DevOps thinkers on how to Flip the Switch on Continuous Delivery?

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Joe Goldberg

Joe Goldberg

Joe is an IT professional with several decades of experience in the design, development, implementation, sales and marketing of enterprise solutions to Global 2000 organizations. Joe has been active in helping BMC products leverage new technology to deliver market-leading solutions with a focus on Workload Automation, Big Data, Cloud and DevOps.