For those following trends in the software industry, Continuous Delivery (CD) has been all the rage. What is it? Simply put – continuous delivery is the ability of a SaaS application to push new software into production multiple times per day. Typically, only the cloud software components are updated at this rate. Client code – either browser code or mobile applications – are updated at a pace between once a week and once a month.

As a software development team, continuous delivery is very exciting. But as the IT person that is the ultimate customer of SaaS applications, do you care about continuous delivery? The answer is -absolutely.

Rowan Trollope recently blogged about the importance of moving fast and innovating quickly. That is the essence of fast IT, and continuous delivery is the key to unlocking fast IT. This is because continuous delivery delivers three essential ingredients that make fast IT possible.

First, continuous delivery means better quality.  A SaaS application with continuous delivery will be able to measure and improve upon the performance, reliability and speed of the application in the hands of your own users. Every day you will see it get a little bit better. With continuous delivery, quality isn’t just about defect counts. With continuous delivery, quality is about key performance metrics that really matter. How many messages are sent successfully? How long did it take to send them? How much time does it take to join a meeting? These are the things that really matter, and continuous delivery means you’ll see them constantly improve.

Second, continuous delivery means better adoption. A great SaaS application is useless if your users don’t use it. A modern SaaS application with continuous delivery monitors the uptake and usage of the application by your users, and makes constant improvements – tweaks in UX, improvements in virality tools, and additions of in-app guides – to ensure that your users actually use the application and the features it provides. Only by constantly monitoring and improving can the application drive adoption in the face of the constant changes in users, usage patterns and communication dynamics within your teams.

Third, continuous delivery means better user experience. Delivering a great user experience requires constant trial and error. The best SaaS applications get better and better because they are always monitoring usage of the application and making changes based on learnings. When measurements show no one clicks on that button – move it or change the interaction model until they do. When measurements show that its taking too long to load an image and users don’t wait for it – improve it until they do. Continuous delivery provides the tight feedback loop that is needed to be measuring and improving the user experience of the product.

Now, more than ever, companies must move fast or be left behind. IT, in turn, must deliver for the business at the same pace. That is what fast IT is all about, and fast IT is enabled by continuous delivery. Continuous delivery enables constant improvements in quality, adoption, and user experience. If you’re not getting these things from your SaaS providers, are you really getting what you need?


Jonathan Rosenberg

Cisco Fellow and Vice President

CTO for Cisco's Collaboration Business