As tools and technologies mature, and customers’ needs continue to evolve, it becomes rather a norm to ensure constant development and deployment for products and services – aptly called ‘continuous delivery.’ Updates need to be rolled out consistently via a deployment system coupled with augmentation in security. Hence, it is but natural to not only secure the application/services and their runtime setting, but also to secure the continuous delivery tool chain while building the test environments.

What is Continuous Delivery (CD)?

CD is a software development practice where changes in codes are built, tested and made ready for production/release automatically. Once the built stage is complete, there exists continued integration while implementation of code changes to testing and production environment occurs. Automation of CD is possible through a workflow process or manually at critical steps. When CD is aptly implemented, developers usually have a ‘deployment ready build artifact’ which has passed through various stages. Revisions are thus easily deployed to the production environment, ensuring that the software delivery process is automated. Customer feedback therefore becomes possible at an early stage of the product lifecycle. CD provides numerous benefits apart from automating process such as enhancing developer outcome, augmenting code quality, and delivering updates to the customer sooner.

Continuous Delivery improves quality and speed

Automation of software release process: CD helps in automating the software delivery process making it more secure and stable; this is primarily done through checking in code which is automatically built, tested and made ready for release.

Improving delivery outcome: Due to automation, the team is free from manual tasks, untying multifaceted dependencies, while focusing on coding for features customers require.

Enhancing code quality: Issues can be found and fixed early due to the CD process. Testing can be frequent, bugs fixed early, additional codes can be worked upon faster and fixed if any errors, and finally quality code is developed with a high degree of security and stability.

Updates delivered faster: Via CD, updates can be delivered quicker and faster. With CD, speed of work increases with enterprises responding to security challenges, market changes and customer requirements. For eg. automated testing with CD can assist in fixing bugs at the appropriate time resulting in a shortened response cycle.

Security at each step in Continous Delivery

Cloud: Ensure that the Continuous Integration (CI) and CD system is completely understood and in control, and CD hosts the configuration management (CM), ‘build, install and release’ tools.

Server: Harden the server of CI and CD. Update and test tools frequently, including that of CM.

Security: Keys, credentials and other secrets must be protected. Ensure that there is secured access to source and binary repos. Review logs frequently, and make certain they cannot be copied. Auditing security is vital in a CD environment.

Code scan and review: An automated process must be in place to check code for susceptibilities and auditing securities. This further removes dependencies.

Clean ecosystem: It is imperative to establish a steady development and operations platforms. Finally, as crowdsourcing is the new norm, many more tools are available for producing excellent results.

Strategies: The two-speed IT production strategy is very effective for outcome and security – rapid beta development (new features are developed) and static release development (release stable products which meet customers’ requirements). Opt-in and stable track guarantee security in a continuous environment. It is further recommended to add new features in a low security environment as this enables identifying issues which may go unnoticed in a high security environment.

Segmentation: It is advised to segment services – where API lines are divided along functionality. A main API must be developed which unifies others, and the individual ones can thus be used for specific use cases and components (essentially an own development section). These sections are actually additional security layers making it difficult for a hacker to get past the security ecosystem. For e.g. Function API turns into Function API, Media Conversion API, Data Processing API and Large File Transfer.   

Continous Delivery application in Federal Government

CD is essential for the federal government too. As the government is under constant pressure to keep projects updated with new functionalities for its citizen centric web based applications, it is necessary to automate software pipelines; thereby eliminating the need of manual work and its related delays, reducing costs and increasing the time to deliver output.

CD is not only about the tools to be used; the aim is to release updated software frequently. And while deployment must be continuous, the bottlenecks must be identified regularly and streamlined. In this process, the system is agile to market requirements as features can be quickly developed and deployed. Quality assurance becomes a regular phenomena as customers’ feedback is quick too. Though CD is powerful for implementation, there are its own security issues with code failures occurring. Hence, apposite design, segmentation, code scanning and review is imperative.

CD is recognized as one of the most powerful solutions for a sturdy user base and network; and is considered a trademark in modern IT development.

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