How to explain Continuous Delivery to backpackers

The last months I have been traveling Southeast Asia as a backpacker. During my travels I met a lot of other travelers. The conversations I have with them, tend to all start in a similar way. Where have you been? Where are you going next? How long do you have to travel? And when they hear that I’m 30, the question that often comes up is: What did you do before you went backpacking? I was helping a company make the change to Continuous Delivery.

This caused a problem for me. How do I describe Continuous Delivery to a backpacker who uses Facebook to connect with fellow travelers and Skype to call home, but has no knowledge of software development? I told them I was a IT consultant, which is so vague it razes even more questions. I could say I was a programmer, which was true a couple of years ago, but not really what I have been doing the last year I was working.

This is how I tried to explain it: Look at Google and Facebook, you expect there website to be available. When you want to post your instagram picture you expect it to work. But even Google and Facebook need to update their website. They do it in a way so that the user doesn’t notice (he/she only sees the change) and that is what users are starting to expect from websites of applications. Now at least in the Netherlands, a lot of companies understand this, but do not know how to change there process to make this possible. Introducing Continuous Delivery (supported by DevOps) in a company is a way to achieve this Google or Facebook like updating for every company.

Those who know Continuous Delivery will say that this is a extreme oversimplification of what is Continuous Delivery is. This is true, but how do I explain software quality improvements, a quick feedback loop for customers and fewer deployment issues and risks to fellow travelers? And do the customers from the company really notice these changes? Hopefully it wasn’t so bad before that this would be the case. So although this is great for developers, operations and the IT manager, does the business really care? As long as the website doesn’t go down regularly and the developers can keep up with the requested changes, the business doesn’t really care.

This is my first blogpost about Continuous Delivery. My goal is to go deeper into different aspects of Continuous Delivery and DevOps, because I believe they are an integral part of the future of software development.