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How to avoid the top 5 manual Deployment Failures by automation

by Marisa Vesel, on Feb 14, 2019 1:30:00 PM

There are a lot of problems that can arise with manual application build deployment. Everyone is aware of the potential problems, so there is a lot to keep track of – especially if you want to avoid Integration Hell. Using a DevOps tool like BuildMaster to focus on CI/CD will help reduce the risk of these failures happening.  

BuildMaster’s Automatic Build Triggers feature, for example, monitors your source control repository and creates a new build whenever someone makes changes. It’s easy to set up along with the Scheduled Build Trigger which can deploy a build to a testing environment on a nightly basis.  

Here are five common manual deployment failures and how they could have been avoided using automation tools like BuildMaster. 

Human Error

Unfortunately, humans are susceptible to making mistakes. Manual deployments require the time, knowledge, and responsibility of key participants. Humans can easily make mistakes when overseeing these large deployments. It's easy to make mistakes such as missing an error in code, making changes directly on the server, or misreading a line of text.

Office worker looking at computer on fire due to human error, while telling reassuring co-worker everything is ok

These seemingly simple mistakes can cause huge problems in deployments, such as causing systems to crash, causing unexpected breaks in other areas of the software, or causing builds being sent to the wrong environment. This causes frustrations and time-consuming fixes for the developers, as well as loss of productivity for other areas of the company. In addition, when software is not working due to a deployment failure, this can result in unhappy end-users of the software.

DevOps tools allow you to automate the deployment process rather than rely on manual deployment. Automation reduces the risk of human error by making sure issues are resolved, Approval Gates have been completed, and the deployment environment is defined before the software is sent out to production. Humans will no longer have to catch small mistakes within a build because the tools will do this automatically, reducing the risk of deployment failures.

Lack of Communication and Approval

In manual deployments, a lack of communication can easily cause deployments to fail. When humans are responsible for tracking their work or obtaining necessarily authorization, there is room for error. For example, if someone resolves an issue  without documenting the change, another developer could believe that the issue hasn't yet been fixed and attempt to make the fix themselves. This could cause other parts of the software to break during their attempts to resolve a non-existent issue. Additionally, if there is no approval process in place, developers can easily deploy builds before they are ready to go out.

A simple lack of communication or a miscommunication can lead to disastrous deployments. When a deployment fails due to a break or an early deployment without all requirements met, many people are affected and must shift their attention away from other work as they try to undo the damage.

Introducing DevOps tools into the deployment process ensures that communication is a top priority. Rather than relying on humans to document their work or notify the necessary personnel, these requirements are integrated into the process. For example, before moving forward in a deployment, a developer is required to check a box in the build dashboard that they are the one who resolved a certain issue. This allows other developers to know that they no longer have to fix that issue and also will hold the original developer accountable for their work.

Additionally, Approval Gates can be integrated into the deployment process so that builds cannot move forward without appropriate human approval. This reduces the risk of builds being released early or without authorization.

Deployment Break with No "Plan B"

Everyone's worst fear! A build was supposed to succeed but unexpectedly fails during the deployment. With the belief that this build was all set and ready-to-go, there was no plan B of what to do in this scenario. Developers are left scrambling to make a fix.

Office workers sit idly by as a deployment break causes a computer to overheat

When there is an unanticipated deployment break and no backup plan, developers are forced to continue the deployment and try to fix issues as they arise. This can be time-consuming, costly, and inefficient. Additionally, this creates a high-pressure, high-stress situation for developers who are trying to quickly send out fixes without causing problems in other software.

Automating the deployment process using DevOps tools can help ensure that you always have a Plan B. No matter what happens during the deployment, developers will be able to quickly and easily roll back to a previously successful release of the build. This allows developers to fix any problems that occurred during deployment under less-pressure knowing that all software is still working from the previous successful release.

Lack of Compliance and Security Testing

Compliance and security are important parts of any organization. However, as discussed in our last blog post, these issues are often not a top priority until it's too late. In manual deployments, when there is a lot of work to be done, it is easy to check for security and compliance issues or have the security team be part of the process.

Failure to take compliance and security issues seriously can result in a lot of problems for a company. From legal fines, to unhappy customers or users, to data breaches or leaks, security and compliance issues are too important to push to last minute.

When using DevOps tools to automate deployment, compliance and security checks are a priority right from the beginning. By integrating DevOps tools with issue trackers, compliance and security issues are identified and followed throughout the entire deployment process. This means that a build will not deploy until all issues have been resolved, reducing the risk of compliance and security trouble.

No Testing Environment Before Production

Manual deployments can be tedious and time-consuming as it is, let alone when testing needs to be completed. In some cases, during manual deployments, builds will be sent to their production environment without being tested in order to save time. For example, a developer may feel very confident with their build and think It's ready for production, so they just send it out. However, if it hasn't been tested properly then this deployment could cause issues in other software or not actually meet the build requirements.

Office workers continue to work as as computers catch fire during manual testing

Of course, testing is an extremely important part of the deployment process. In fact, it's so important that we have a future blog post all about the five stages of testing. When testing is not completed properly, there are a lot of consequences: unhappy end-users, builds that don't integrate well with other software, unmet functional and non-functional requirements. Going back to repair these can lead to time-consuming fixes that could have been avoided if tested.

Automating the deployment process can ensure that all builds will be sent through multiple testing environments before production. This ensures that the build will meet all necessary requirements and integrate well with existing processes before being deployed to the production environment. If a build fails any stage of testing, it will be sent back to the beginning until the build can successfully pass all tests. This decreases the time needed to fix issues and help make the deployment process more efficient.

Want to Learn More About How Inedo Can Help?

More and more companies are leaving manual deployments behind in favor of safer, more reliable automated deployments.  
By using BuildMaster and other DevOps tools, companies can mitigate these manual deployment failures through easy communication, controlled security, and the option to easily roll back to a previously successful release. Automated deployments save time, money, and frustrations by reducing human error and fully integrating all components of a deployment life cycle. 

BuildMaster’s Deployment Pipelines will help you introduce better CI/CD practices into your DevOps projects. Read more on our documents page or download and try for free.   

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