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DevSecOps

What is Progressive Delivery? Guide by Wallarm

What is Progressive Delivery? Guide by Wallarm

A lot goes on to achieve perfection in application/software development. Adding new features and updating the old ones is one of the key jobs that the developer has to handle. However, achieving this isn’t as easy as it seems.

Progressive delivery is an ideal practice to adopt in this scenario. Scroll down to learn more about progressive delivery meaning, usage, and other related concerns.

Learning Objectives

What is Progressive Delivery?

At the very basic level, progressive delivery is all about easy features updates and upgrades. Compared to the traditional waterfall development approach, this makes software/application feature changes far quick and more seamless.

The approach merges delivery practices and software development so that full control over feature delivery is attained. It’s based on feature flag management and some of the most recent deployment strategies, such as canary deployment and blue-green deployment. 

Progressive delivery/update is a non-negotiable part of the CI/CD approach and enables developers to ship the required codes quickly with the least possible risks while making sure that the customer experience is constantly improved. The way it manages features introduction makes it an integral part of DevOps.

When one tries to understand what progressive delivery is, it’s important to know about progressive delivery vs continuous delivery as they both are closely related.

Continuous delivery, as we all know, is a collective practice to make sure that designed codes are always ready to be a part of a deployment.  

How does it happen? The approach focuses on having a high-cost development, testing, and deployment frequency so that ready-to-use codes are always there.

Now, let’s try to find out how it’s different from progressive delivery. 

Well, these two have different methods to achieve the same goal, making features change radially available.

Continuous delivery breaks down the feature change into compact sections. In place of huge feature changes, smaller sections are introduced continuously at regular intervals of time. This way, code issues are also promptly identified.

The focus of progressive delivery is on reducing code change risks. It’s achieved by trimming down the code change exposure to the audiences. Code changes, even big or small, are not introduced all at once, which generally causes user friction.

Main Elements of Progressive Delivery

While you plan to deploy a progressive delivery strategy, it's imperative to know the key components that form it. So, have a look at this list:

  • Source Code Management

This is a key practice permitting need-based tracking, correction, and reverting of code so that feature updates are easy-to-achieve. Progressive delivery demands an application code development process that is easily managed. Generally, version control systems such as Git are used for code tracking and management.  

When a Git-based workflow is considered, source code management ensures that code development continues while no changes are lost. The applied code changes are transferred from one stage of development to another smoothly.  

This is a must-have component as it promotes quick new feature code generation, error testing, and introduction.

  • CI/CD

Basically, it’s a mix of multiple practices and principles enabling software changes to reach the end-users. By ensuring that developers are involved in continuous development and integrating code changes into operations, CI/CD acts as a primary stage of progressive delivery implementation. 

  • Feature Flag Management

This component is essential for progressive delivery in a complex feature workflow. When continuous feature requests are there to manage, developers might have a tough time synchronizing the new requests and feature workflow. 

This is where feature flag management shows up as a remedy. With its help, developers can easily gain feature visibility and find out what’s happening behind the Boolean or any other logic flag. Now, if you’re curious to know why this aspect is important, let’s explain that it prevents the redeployment of an application. 

  • A/B Testing

Often known as split testing, A/B testing is important for progressive delivery as it allows two different variants of one feature to test on different users. This way, it’s easy to figure out which version works best and ensure that one version is always present. 

  • Feature Release Strategies

This component is also known as feature rollout and is majorly responsible for releasing the strategies that are crucial for the management of an in-use application instance. Mainly, three deployment strategies are in practice, which are: rolling, blue-green, and canary. 

Out of these, only last 2 strategies (blue/green and canary) are used in progressive delivery to ensure that application changes have limited impacts. 

  • Continuous Delivery Release Automation (CDRA)

It refers to the collection of tools that are capable of promoting swift application delivery. This happens because of the extensive automation and monitoring that CDRA tools bring with them. These tools ensure that every development stage is monitored and need-based testing is performed.

Its aim is to enable traffic shifting, automation, deploy user segmentation, and observability. AWS App Mesh and Istio are two highly famous service mesh used for progressive delivery.

This component is here to ensure that tracing, logging, and metrics capabilities are expanded in a way that they are capable of addressing the growing features demand. It also means keeping an eye on application performance and requirements before jumping to finding feature requirements. It leads to better feature code development. 

How does Progressive Delivery deliver DevOps?

As both DevOps and progressive delivery promotes improved speed and system stability, it’s obvious to link these two. Progressive delivery offers a wide range of control entities and safeguarding principles for DevOps implementation that enable a developer to introduce new codes with any apprehensions.

Also, these resources ensure that high development activities are not at all impacting the system’s performance and durability. 

As we analyze further, it comes to our notice that progressive delivery Kubernetes ensures that there is constant communication between the development team and improved efficiency of the involved operations. All in all, this strategy acts like an act ensuring that DevOps implementation is smooth.

Benefits of Progressive Delivery 

In case you’re wondering why to be concerned about progressive delivery, have a look at the key benefits that this strategy brings to the table.

  • Better efficiency

The current development trend says that organizations should gain full governance of the development pipelines while causing no disturbance to key functions. Progressive delivery makes it happen by granting businesses the ability to continuously test the code and ship a huge quality of code. As it happens, workflows and user experiences are not at all hampered.

  • Selective deployment

Don’t want new features accessible for all the users? You can attain it with progressive delivery enabled implementation approach. The method allows you to define the user role based scope of your application.

  • Reduced risk

As code changes are introduced slowly and at a slow pace, failure risks are less with a progressive delivery software development approach.

Any wrong or ill-functioning code change is fixed before it’s launched on a large scale.

  • Make feature changes geographically optimized

It’s obvious to have different features and needs with different locations. Progressive delivery will help you have location-based new feature releases as it supports privacy and access restrictions.

  • Less user friction

Users generally don’t like a complete makeover of an application as it can hamper their user experience. So, you must reduce user friction as changes are introduced slowly. Progressive delivery enables end-users to have a chance to get introduced to new features at a slow-paced pace.

  • Trimmed development overheads

Utilizing the progressive delivery Kubernetes approach makes it easy to reduce the software development expenses as redo is less. You're able to seize a bug in the early stage and limit the damage.

Enabling Progressive Delivery - The Full Process

By now, you must be aware of every nitty-gritty of progressive delivery. It’s time to learn about the key implementation processes. The ideal methodology is to ensure that key elements are delivered in an incremental manner.

Generally, this is achieved by streamlining the development workflows. At times, developers used feature flag management capability and used SDK for its implementation.

As per the business's needs, some even prefer using source code management. But, when this is done, it’s used before the implementation of feature flag management or A/B testing.  

The use of feature flag management inside the development process is very common. But, organizations need to make sure that deployments are verified beforehand. The implementation of progressive delivery must not be fully achieved without using features like observability and monitoring.

As we have already explained these two above, monitoring ensures codes are error-free, and observability ensures code changes are according to the organization’s needs. The adoption of these two components promises better code changes. So. organizations can remain more confident about the modifications made.

The last step to take here is to ensure successful code change deployment that is solely based on blue-green and canary deployment strategies. The easy way for this is to use a service mesh or continuous delivery platform.

Using the CI/CD platform is a great way to attain the best deployment, as they take care of everything related to production and development.

Final Word

With changing customer requirements, software development must be modified. Presently, it’s more than just offering speedy and best-performing software. It also means that software is evolving with the demands and requirements of end-users. 

Progressive delivery ensures that this happens at a slow and steady pace. This approach ensures that the developers have full control over delivery and introduce a few features quickly. So, businesses must adopt it for their digital products in order to realize the full potential of modern development tools and practices.

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