Continuous Delivery, DevOps and Managed Services Providers
Continuous Delivery, or CD, is changing the way software is written and delivered to users. What does CD mean for MSPs? Here's a primer.
CD means what it sounds like: Under the CD model, application releases and updates are delivered to end-users on a rolling, continuous basis.
CD is the opposite of "waterfall" delivery methods. Waterfall means releasing software changes into production environments according to a slow, irregular rhythm.
The CD approach to development offers a number of advantages. The main ones include:
- Changes to software are smaller and more manageable. You don't have to release updates in big, bulky chunks.
- Users get software updates faster. They don't have to wait for a large feature set to be complete before they can start taking advantage of any updates.
- Software delivery teams can work in parallel, rather than waiting for one group to finish their work before another group can start on theirs. That leads to faster innovation and better use of everyone's time.
CD has become popular in recent years as part of the DevOps movement.
Continuous Delivery and Managed Services
What does CD mean for MSPs? You might be thinking "not much." After all, the managed services business is about supplying and managing software, not developing it.
But CD does matter for MSPs in a few key ways. First, CD pipelines don't end with development. They also include production release. For that reason, MSPs who are responsible for helping to manage software in production should be aware of and adapt to CD schedules. They need to prepare for updates that roll into production constantly — not every month or every six months, as they did in the past.
The CD trend also means that end users have come to expect faster and better software releases. If the apps you deliver are out of date — either because you are not providing the latest versions, or the apps themselves are not being updated quickly enough — you risk losing clients to service offerings that include the most up-to-date software.
Finally, because CD helps produce better, more stable software, users have also come to expect excellent software quality. That makes it more important than ever to provide a flawless user experience for the services you provide — and it's also an opportunity to meet user expectations by improving software quality when the core product is sub-par.