Book Review: Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and David Farely

By Jez Humble and David Farley

Continuous Delivery from Jez Humble and David Farley is an important contribution to the field of software development. It takes continuous integration to the logical conclusion and covers how to set up a continuous integration system, delving into everything from check-in to delivery to production. It doesn’t state you have to deliver directly in production, but it will explain how technically it is achievable to do that and what enormous benefits this brings to your organization.

Continuous delivery consists of three parts: 1) Foundation, 2) Deployment Pipeline, and 3) Delivery Ecosystem.

The first four chapters cover the fundamentals the rest of the book is based on. The first chapter provides some problems with more traditional approaches and also introduces some principles extracted out of continuous delivery. The next three chapters cover topics that provide the basics of continuous delivery. Someone involved with agile development for a while is probably aware of most of this and it will be a quick read. For new people, these chapters provide a quick introduction to these topics so that you can understand the rest of the book. The chapters are: “configuration management,” “continuous integration,” and “implementing a testing strategy.”

The second part is the core of the book. It explains the continuous delivery pipeline. This pipeline is a series of stages (a series of continuous integration systems) each stage covering higher-level wider-range of testing so that the confidence in the product increases the later the stage in the deployment pipeline passes. The stages the authors recommend in the deployment pipeline are: commit, acceptance, capacity, manual, production. Each of these stages (except for manual) has its own chapter which explains tools and practices that the authors have found useful in that stage of the deployment pipeline. The part also contains an additional ‘foundation’ chapter about build and deployment scripting.

The last part of the book is one that I, myself, found most interesting which covers perhaps some ‘advanced’ topics. The part is called “delivery ecosystem” and the chapters aren’t directly related to each other, but each chapter covers a common topic related to the deployment pipeline. Chapter 11 talks about managing and automating your infrastructure as part of your build also. It introduces a vast amount of topics related to automation (puppet, chef), virtualization, cloud computing and monitoring. Unfortunately, the book is only able to touch a little upon each of these topics as each of them could easily fill several others books (and they do!). Chapter 12 covers a very frequent problem in testing and test automation related to managing data. It explains several different approaches and then evaluates them and shares the experiences and recommendations of the authors. Managing test data is a common problem and is rarely covered in the amount of detail as this book does. Chapter 13 discusses different scaling options by componentizing the product and what effect this has on the continuous deployment pipeline (basically adding another dimension to the pipeline). Chapter 14 is about version control and can be summarized as “avoid branching” but the authors do a good job explaining that message and why the alternatives are indeed worst. Chapter 15 was short (I slightly disliked this chapter), and about managing continuous delivery. It felt like the standard “and now… what actions to take”-chapter. It was a bit shallow though.

When the book was published, I read it through rather quickly and liked it, however I didn’t appreciate the depth of the book yet. I re-read it the second time more thoroughly and enjoyed the careful comparisons and explanations of the recommendations of the authors. They shared the experiences they have had very clearly. The book is interesting to me as it covers a vast area and thus it is hard to not touch everything shallowly, but they don’t do that. They go in more depth at the points where the authors feel it is appropriate (for example, parts that are controversial or often done differently).

The book isn’t perfect though! As some other reviewers pointed out, it is repetitive and should have been thinner. I agree with that. Also, sometimes the book side-tracks in interesting facts that are unlikely to help the reader a lot, such as the history of version control. Next, the book contains some very basic things that could have perhaps been left out (or put as appendix), such as an explanation of maven. Lastly, the book sometimes contradicts itself such as the recommendation to do things “at the beginning of the project” but then later stating that “at the beginning of the project, all these decisions will change”. There I still felt the influence of standard ‘project’ thinking.

With all these drawbacks, I still decided to rate the book five stars because I do think it is a very influential and important book. It tells and shows that continuous delivery is not just a perfection state but that it can be achieved today. Not only that, it can be achieved in larger projects, not just small web projects. This is a huge contribution to the industry and I think and hope that the practices of continuous delivery will become standard practices everywhere. Excellent read (except for the repetition) and highly recommended.

Bas Vodde
Bas Vodde works for Odd-e, a company which supports organizations in improving their product development, mostly in Asia. Bas Vodde is a coach, programmer, trainer, and author related to modern agile and lean product development. He is the creator of the LeSS (Large-Scale Scrum) framework for scaling agile development. He coaches organizations on three levels: organizational, team, individual/technical practices. He has trained thousands of people in software development, Scrum, and modern agile practices for over a decade.
Bas Vodde on Linkedin

The Related Post

It’s no secret that the cloud is growing at an exponential rate. By 2016, two-thirds of the world’s server workloads will exist in the cloud. But according to Cisco’s 2012 Cloud Index, less than half of server workloads currently run in the cloud. Closing the gap between current capabilities and future requirements is a mission-critical ...
How to Adopt the “Third Way” in the Dojo’s Method to Master CD In The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations the authors describe “The Three Ways” – the underlying principles forming the basis for all DevOps practices. 
From the culture shift, to differences in Agile, Dave Farley and Michael Hackett discuss the nitty gritty of Testing in DevOps. For this issue of LogiGear Magazine, our very own Michael Hackett sat down with one of the godfathers of Continuous Delivery, David Farley. In this exclusive interview, David discusses how test teams and automation ...
LogiGear Magazine – December 2013 – Cloud Testing
This post is part of the Pride & Paradev series With continuous deployment, it is common to release new software into production multiple times a day. A regression test suite, no matter how well designed, may still take over 10 minutes to run, which can lead to bottlenecks in releasing changes to production. So, do ...
Having the right skills and experience, even if you have to go outside, is essential for designing tests for large-scale cloud deployments. Moving existing applications to a cloud environment adds new dimensions to testing. One of the primary reasons for moving to the cloud is scalability. Capacity to handle traffic and data transfer can be ...
Aligning the Dev and Ops Teams DevOps as a philosophy has had as its centerpiece the principle that Dev and Ops teams need to align better. This is a people and organizational principle, not a process centric principle. To me this is more important when adopting DevOps than any other capability or tool. My last post ...
For this month’s book review, I read Continuous Testing for DevOps Professionals: A Practical Guide from Industry Experts, by various authors and edited by Eran Kinsbruner. The book is divided into 4 sections: Fundamentals of Continuous Testing, Continuous Testing for Web Apps, Continuous Testing for Mobile Apps, and The Future of Continuous Testing. The Fundamentals ...
LogiGear Magazine June Issue 2018: TESTING in DEVOPS
LogiGear University announces the launch of a new, free video series on Testing in DevOps and Continuous Testing which is available today.
From adopting the culture, to implementing Continuous Delivery With the relative newness of DevOps, there are not yet a ton of DevOps books. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of the 7 best DevOps books based on four criteria: the number of ratings from Amazon, the average Amazon rating, number of ratings from GoodReads and the ...
It is a fundamental role for testing teams to align their test design, test automation, and test case development with DevOps–not only to verify that code changes work but that the changes do not break the product. A key differentiator of DevOps is testing maturity. An organization can automate their integration, testing, delivery, and monitor, ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the loop with the lastest
software testing news

Subscribe