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3 min read

Using continuous delivery for edge computing

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Continuous delivery (CD) is one of the pillars of modern software development. But its use in edge computing devices—devices that process data closer to where it’s being generated, like Internet of Things (IoT) devices, point of sales (POS) systems, robots, and sensors—is transforming business areas across the board, from customer engagement and marketing to production and back-office operations.

In this blog, we will explore how continuous delivery can improve the quality, agility, and cost-effectiveness of your edge computing applications. We’ll also address the potential challenges that can crop up when implementing continuous delivery and provide best practices to follow.

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Benefits of using continuous delivery for edge computing

Using CD in edge computing means automating the process of building, testing, and deploying the software pipeline stages to release in short, regular cycles. This enables faster updates, greater consistency and quality across edge environments, and support for scalability and reliability. 

By using continuous delivery for edge computing, your organisation can reap the benefits, including:

  • Faster time to market—Automating testing and deployment will help you reduce human errors and speed up the delivery cycle. Businesses can more quickly get new features and updates to their edge devices.
  • Improved quality—By testing software changes earlier, businesses can reduce the risk of introducing bugs and defects. Automation of testing reduces human errors and the risk of breaking edge devices.
  • Increased agility—Continuous deployment allows businesses to respond faster to changes in the market, increasing agility.
  • Reduced costs—Businesses can reduce the time and money spent on software deployment by automating the deployment process.
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Challenges of continuous delivery for edge computing

Although there are many benefits to implementing continuous delivery, it’s important to recognise the challenges.

  • Technical considerations—Edge environments often have diverse hardware, varying connectivity, and patchy network conditions, complicating standardised deployment. As a result, technical and operational complexity is a key consideration when designing and implementing a CD pipeline. Adaptable deployment pipelines capable of handling these complications can help manage diverse edge devices.
  • Security issues—It’s crucial to ensure that your edge applications and data are protected and compliant with the relevant regulations and standards. But with edge devices, security across distributed edge nodes is complex and demands solid security measures to protect against threats. Additionally, you’ll need to manage the trade-offs between security and speed.
  • Containerisation—By using OCI-compliant containers, such as Docker containers, software can be tested on different hardware configurations and deployed confidently. Container orchestration systems, such as Kubernetes, help ensure these containers continue to run properly by scheduling and restarting containers as needed.
  • Organisational change—Cultural and organisational change is necessary to adopt a new mindset and culture of collaboration, transparency, and feedback and align teams, processes, and goals.
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How to implement continuous delivery for edge computing

To successfully navigate continuous delivery challenges, it is important to follow best practices to optimise edge computing performance. Following best practices will allow collaboration, automation, continuous feedback, continuous improvement, and optimisation.

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5 best practices of continuous delivery for edge computing

To set yourself up for success in CD for edge computing, consider these best practices.

  1. Monitor and measure edge applications for real-time data
    Establishing requirements and metrics will help you align your development and operations teams, set realistic expectations, and evaluate the outcomes of your CD process. Start by defining clear and measurable requirements and metrics for your edge applications. Identify key areas, such as performance, reliability, security, scalability, and availability, and plan how you will measure and monitor these aspects. To help measure and monitor, you can use tools like logs, metrics, alerts, and dashboards.
  2. Automate testing and deployment
    A CD pipeline automates the testing and deployment of your software updates, validating and verifying each stage—which means you need to automate! You need to ensure that your code is tested thoroughly and consistently across different edge environments, using methodologies such as unit testing, integration testing, acceptance testing, and performance testing. You also need to automate the deployment of your code to the edge nodes, using processes such as configuration management, orchestration, and containerisation. Containerisation and microservices can simplify and standardise the software update process, ensuring that updates can run on any edge device.
  3. Implement feedback loops and rollback mechanisms
    Implement feedback loops and rollback mechanisms for your software updates to help you improve your software continuously, resolve issues promptly, and minimise the risks of your continuous delivery process. You can collect and analyse feedback from users, devices, sensors, and networks to understand how your software is performing. By implementing rollback mechanisms, you can quickly revert to a previous version of your software in the event of failures, bugs, or unexpected events.
  4. Security protection for your edge data and code
    It’s important to implement encryption, authentication, authorisation, and auditing measures to secure and protect your edge data and code, using tools such as certificates, keys, tokens, and logs. Plus, you’ll need to comply with the relevant regulations and standards such as GDPR. Protective measures will help you prevent and avoid cyberattacks, breaches, and fines, and enhance your reputation.
  5. Optimise resources and costs
    Optimising your edge resources and costs will help you improve performance, efficiency, and sustainability, and reduce your operational expenses and environmental impact. Consider the balance between the benefits and costs of edge computing, taking into account the cost of latency, bandwidth, storage, processing, and energy.
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Continuous delivery success from the start

Ready to get started with implementing CD for edge computing? At Adaptavist, we can help you navigate the challenges of moving to a continuous software delivery model and put you on the right track to achieving your transformation goals.

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About the authors

Jobin Kuruvilla

Jobin Kuruvilla

Jobin Kuruvilla is a DevOps subject matter expert, and an experienced solutions expert and App developer. Jobin has several certifications under his belt, including Atlassian products, GitLab certified PSE, AWS, Kubernetes, Jenkins et.al. to name a few, and has spearheaded implementing Digital Transformation for teams and enterprises.