Technology changes happen rapidly. We have gone from brick-sized Blackberrys to sleek smartphones in a remarkably short period of time. Today’s smartwatches have more computing power than the average phone did in 2008. But a lot of technological development happens far from the public eye and much of it is far more impactful than the newest version of the iPhone.
Software is evolving at a fast pace right now. In fact, it is developing so fast that it is outpacing the ability of our education system to train competent developers. Microsoft said back in 2012 that it anticipated a shortage of over one million software engineers by 2020. That projection seems to be holding true four years later.
This has forced the creation of a new model of software development known as Continuous Delivery. Continuous Delivery harnesses the power of servers and software to automate the tedious work of testing and deployment. In other words, while humans write the core software, computers take over the drudgery.
This technology may seem a tad iRobot or whatever your favorite robot vs. mankind film may be. Sadly, it is not quite that intriguing. But it does open the door to exponential development and that can have an enormous influence on our economy and on technology as a whole.
To learn more about Continuous Delivery, I spoke with Will Iverson & Matt Munson, Co-Founders of Dev9, a Seattle-based firm that is pioneering this technology. According to them, these are the three ways Continuous Delivery can change software development around the world.
Almost all software rollouts will use Continuous Delivery
In 2013, America cringed as Federal officials scrambled to explain why Healthcare.gov glitched, froze, and crashed. The website was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s flagship legislation, the Affordable Care Act. It soon became the most high profile website failure ever. According to Iverson, the embarrassing rollout was a perfect example of the need for continuous delivery.
“Software engineers can use Continuous Delivery to test a website or software with thousands of automated tests running through the site checking for issues. They would have realized immediately that the site couldn’t handle the traffic volume, glitched when under pressure, and would ultimately cease to function. Continuous Delivery would have averted that disaster.”
It takes humans engineers months to manually perform all of the functions that a Continuous Delivery program can do in five minutes.
The Internet of Things will benefit greatly
The Internet of Things is already a billion dollar industry and growing fast. But the server software that runs all the gadgets people are clamoring to buy requires months to develop and enormous teams to maintain.
“Every smart device relies on networking and server systems for smarts, and Continuous Delivery means more updates, faster, and more reliable service,” says Iverson.
Pushing out an update to thousands of cloud servers can take a development team months of manually tedious work. Continuous Delivery excels at doing simple, highly repetitive, error-prone tasks that we currently ask software engineers to do manually.
Bugs will go away forever (not really, but almost)
Imagine a travel website, like Kayak or Expedia. Those sites operate on powerful programs that users can query for all kinds of information. Whether that is a rental car in Berlin or a hotel in Las Vegas, the program has to spit out the correct information every time. For human developers to test every possible result and verify that every page displays the information correctly would be a herculean task. But not for Continuous Delivery.
“You can think of Continuous Delivery as a force multiplier. The test automation gives you the freedom to explore and innovate. With deployment automation you can really leverage the cloud for scale,” says Iverson.
Technology, over the years, is becoming so robust that it is taking away people’s jobs. As Dev9 Founders Munson and Iverson say, “Eventually artificial intelligence and robots will be able to do just about all of the normal things we consider jobs today. And then we’ll have to figure out what being human really is all about.”