Why continuous software delivery is so important
Some things get better with age. Wine, objects of art, friendship, and love are some common examples. Some might also add old and proven software to that list, but would that really be justified? Sure, the software industry has a history of debugging and hardening its products over time, and it may feel safe to stay on an old and proven software release. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right?
Well, it is time to change that perception, because fast response to customer demand for new services requires that you are on the latest software version. Not only does the latest version contain the latest features and functions but also the latest system improvements and latest corrections. We are delivering software to networks in a dynamic eco-system and we are continuously adding value, constantly adapting and improving our software for that purpose.
We have long since transformed our project-driven R&D organizations to Lean and Agile R&D machineries where multiple cross-functional teams are developing and delivering software at a high pace in cooperation with our customers. To not just put the software features on the shelf waiting for the next yearly software release, we have also introduced a release strategy based on continuous software deliveries on a monthly basis.
Many would say based on previous experiences that software updates are laborious and risky and not really something you would want to do too often. Some would prefer to stay as long as possible on an old and proven software version. At the same time, you want the benefits of the latest features. We are solving that dilemma by simplifying the way you deploy and update the software. When complexity grows and inter-dependencies between different network elements become too hard to coordinate and manage, then we remove the need for coordination altogether.
This is possible by making the software independent of its surroundings by introducing updates in “compatibility mode” with all new functionalities' turned off by default to ensure the continuation of legacy behavior. Reducing the possibility of human errors by automating the actual upgrade procedure and removing all manual steps. Introducing an easy and automated way of doing regression and acceptance testing of new software versions using a tool such as Automated Acceptance Tests.
The latest is the greatest
All these concepts, and some more, are a reality in Ericsson Evolved Packet Core products and with great results. The number of trouble reports from the field has been reduced. The lead time from when a new version is released to the market until it is in operation in a live network has gone from several weeks and even months to less than 48 hours. More and more operators realize that a “continuous” approach to bringing in and deploying the latest software enables faster launch of new services, secures the in-service performance, and—at the same time—reduces opex, simply because the latest is the greatest!
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Want to learn more about how to do continuous delivery and deployment? Download our article "Continuous Delivery and Deployment of software in the telecoms world":Download the article