Digital best practice: Release regularly

One of the best practice digital principles we talk about at Endava is regular rollouts to users. The more regular and automated you can make them, the quicker you can provide additional functionality to your users.

Amazon

Amazon’s release to live every 11.6 seconds. This was the mean average for weekdays during May 2011. During that month, they had up to 1,079 production deployments per hour.

Watch this video from Jon Jenkins at Amazon.com as he describes their deployment ethos. If you’re short of time, skip straight to 9 minutes into the clip.

It’s worth noting they were doing this in 2011, using what is now known as cloud computing. Back to Amazon in 2011, around 1 in 100,000 rollouts caused an outage, but they had instant rollback mechanism. (I wonder how many organisations have performed 100,000 rollouts).

Facebook

Facebook is on version 134 of its iOS app

Facebook releases a new iOS mobile app version every 6-8 days. They are currently on version 134 (as of 3rd August 2017). Facebook has 1.15bn daily active users across their mobile channels (across different devices and mobile web sites).

56.5% of Facebook logins users ONLY login via mobile. 81% of Facebook revenue (that’s $5bn for the quarter in July ’16, and growing rapidly) comes from mobile ads.

This makes each rollout high risk in the event of an error, from a combined revenue and the size of the user base.

What does this mean?

Amazon’s revenue for 2016 was $135bn. Back in 2011 during this video, it was $48bn. They do a production release several times per minute.

Facebook has a huge user base, with large, steadily growing revenue – they can’t afford any downtime. Yet Facebook still deploy new mobile apps every 6-8 days.

The next time your organisation says “we can’t do regular deployments because of our high revenue/ massive traffic/ etc.”, think about Amazon and Facebook – they overcame similar challenges.

It’s all about infrastructure and automated operations.

These organisations are able to deploy to a flexible, massive infrastructure. And they have a totally automated deployment process to avoid human error during the process. This is one of the ways Amazon enable any developer to release an update to production so regularly.

It’s a lot harder when you have mainframes and AS/400s involved. It’s not impossible though – the Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander iOS apps release regularly. Their iOS apps are updated roughly every two months. I’d like to hear how often they perform a website deployment.

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