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CIO Review >> Magazine >> August - 2013 issue

Continuous Delivery Enabling Enterprises

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San Francisco based CircleCI provides hosted continuous integration for web applications. Founded in 2009, the company has raised $1.5 million in seed funding.

Continuous delivery is reshaping how software is being written throughout the industry. For decades, software projects have provided significant risks to businesses, going over budget, not being delivered, and not solving stakeholders' problems. Continuous Delivery offers a powerful remedy to these risks.
When combined with an agile process, Continuous Delivery allows software teams to deliver software incrementally to its users and customers. Software is shipped in small units of code whose effects are easy to measure and reverse, significantly reducing the risk of any single component.

Continuous Delivery enables an unparalleled amount of collaboration between stakeholders and developers. By allowing both sides the ability to see how users use software in practice, it's easy to react with data to avoid feature creep, cut unhelpful but costly features, and focus on the real value to the user. This provides a significant deterrent to time- and budget-based overruns.

Continuous Delivery is currently used by cutting edge technology companies like Facebook, Etsy and Google. It is increasingly used by small-to-medium companies and startups, but its impact in the Enterprise is limited.
This is largely due to corporate policies based on risk avoidance and compliance. Throughout the enterprise, these policies are being scaled back to allow unprecedented access to tools that teams can leverage for productivity. The effects are wide-ranging, going from new development methodologies, to using best-of-breed cloud services.

As these policies are scaled back, new tools and their associated methodologies provide massive productivity increases for development teams. Cloud-based platforms such as Heroku, NewRelic and CircleCI provide leverage to these teams, and actually reduce the risk of non-delivery and budget overrun.

While enterprises are increasingly buying best-of-breed cloud tools, addressing the market effectively requires much more than a great product and a low-touch sales process. Entrepreneurs not willing to put in the work, or who attempt to address enterprise before their product matures, risk wasting significant time and money on customers whose complexities defy the abilities of their product. Approaching the enterprise slowly, deliberately, and at the right time in the product lifecycle, can mean the difference between enterprise success and failure.