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How Continuous Delivery and Feature Flags Can Ease the Stress of Releases [Guest Post]

Kevin W

By: Kevin W.
January 26, 2022

Employees Laughing

The following is a guest post from LaunchDarkly, the first scalable feature management platform.  

Working in a stressful deployment environment can hinder the speed and frequency of releases — and the innovation behind it all. 

If you’re constantly worried or stressed about releases, you’re likely losing room for creativity and innovation. And sooner or later, it’s going to impact your products. 

How Stress Affects Innovation (and Releases) 

Worry and stress related to deployments are sometimes referred to as “deployment anxiety,” an emotional response that we at LaunchDarkly decided to examine more closely. 

For Hyperdrive: A Continuous Delivery Report, we surveyed professionals on the current state of continuous delivery, digging into topics like the reasons for adopting CD, their teams’ utilization of automation in their processes, and the use of feature flags. 

Continuous Delivery Reduces Deployment Anxiety

The findings highlighted a correlation between deployment anxiety and frequency of releases, although maybe not in the way you were expecting. 

According to most respondents, production environments with lower release frequencies actually create more deployment anxiety. This can likely be attributed to the extra buildup of pressure and stress that accompanies releases that are infrequent but larger in overall scope. 

On the other hand, developers who are continually pushing out deployments, sometimes multiple times per day, are far less likely to have deployment anxiety. It may sound counterintuitive, but continuous delivery generally results in less stress and fewer worries within a work environment.

If you’re releasing smaller releases at a more consistent pace, it’s a lot less stressful than trying to roll out a more substantial release, say, once per quarter.  Smaller releases are also usually less risky, and easier to roll back if they cause issues. 

Still, it’s impossible to achieve true continuous delivery without the right tools and processes. 

How Feature Flags Can Help 

In the Hyperdrive report, many respondents indicated their plan to implement feature flagging, which is a way to control which users can see a certain feature—enabling developers to selectively deploy code to specific users. Feature flags allow teams to mitigate risk by running canary tests, progressively delivering features, migrating to microservices, and tons more

Respondents who currently use feature flags are much more likely to hold a positive view of their deployment process, while deployment anxiety is higher among the respondents who don’t use feature flags.  

It’s safe to say there’s a connection. 

The Value of a Solid Feature Management Platform 

At LaunchDarkly, we love hearing from customers and developers on just how our platform affects their deployment processes and workflows. In one particular part of another recent report, The State of Feature Management (conducted in partnership with the independent firm, Wakefield Research), we surveyed hundreds of customers to gauge our platform’s impact on their processes. 

Our research also included surveying hundreds of developers who used feature management solutions other than LaunchDarkly so we could have a realistic and honest comparison. 

The results were clear: LaunchDarkly users are deploying more frequently and with less stress. 

So, for those who want to deploy more frequently, reduce stress and anxiety around these deployments, and enable more room for innovation, a feature flag-based platform like LaunchDarkly is critical. Want to see for yourself what our platform can do for your development environments? Check out some of our customer case studies

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