Deployment Tools

Deployment Tools

Deployment tools streamline the process of distributing software and updates, usually via scheduling or automation, so that developers can focus on more critical tasks. They also allow developers to collaborate on projects, track progress, and manage changes.

With the explosion of DevOps, continuous deployment (CD) has become an increasingly popular practice. It involves automatically releasing code that passes the automated testing phase into production, making updates available to users faster and more frequently. For businesses that release on a daily or near-daily basis, CD is an option that should be strongly considered.

Although continuous delivery and continuous deployment share the same abbreviation (CD), delivery is actually the precursor to deployment. The distinction between the two lies in the final manual approval step before production release. Continuous delivery includes the manual approval step, while continuous deployment doesn’t. In a continuous deployment environment, every source code change is deployed automatically without explicit approval. Essentially, the developer’s job is complete after merging to the master branch. CI/CD tools take over from there by running all the tests, deploying to production, and keeping team members updated on important events with monitoring and notifications.

Deployment Tools

For the purposes of this article, we will largely stick to discussing continuous deployment, since it is becoming the industry standard for many businesses. Consumer web companies such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Netflix all use CD to release features and fixes.

What are Deployment Tools?

To get an application up and running in any given environment, deployment tools are a necessity. Some tools (such as CircleCI and Codeship) can handle everything from automatically building and testing code, to deploying it and reporting errors back to the team. The best tools can scale from a single application to an enterprise IT portfolio, making it easy to coordinate deployment actions across multiple interdependent systems at once.

When selecting a deployment tool, consider the following:
1. Complexity of your deployment landscape
2. Custom scripting vs. out-of-the-box content
3. On-premise vs. self-hosted
4. Plugins and customizability
5. Ease of use for non-experts
6. Support for multiple languages and platforms
7. Scalability
8. Reporting
9. Auditability & compliance
10. Microservices

Benefits of Deployment Tools

The concept at the core of CD is that teams should be deploying new features and fixes all the time to supply a constant stream of value to the end user. As soon as code is ready to go out, it should be released and put into the hands of customers as fast as possible. In addition, because small iterative changes are constantly being added to the product, users don’t experience any upheavals that can cause confusion. Instead, a series of small simple changes add up over time, becoming big changes in a process of continual evolution.

On the business side, automation of the deployment process allows engineers to focus on business needs rather than infrastructure overhead, thereby saving time and money. It also reduces the need for custom scripting, helps to meet audit and compliance requirements, accelerates delivery velocity, and accelerates feedback cycles.

From a high-level perspective, deployment tools provide a single view across all applications and environments and connect your existing tools into harmonious workflow.

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