The Vision of DevOps for Devices, Part 3: Continuous Delivery and Automation

Sudhir Reddy
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Welcome back to part three of our DevOps for Devices series, focusing on continuous delivery and automation at the edge. These are some of the foundational concepts within the DevOps software development philosophy, and they are thematically tied to DevOps for Devices.

In the first post of this series, we discussed what it means to manage devices (and fleets) by exception, which liberates you from having to examine individual devices. Then, we covered managing drift and the concept of desired state.

In this installment, we’ll focus on application management. Of course, the ultimate goal of any device you’ve deployed is to be able to deploy applications that are mission-critical to your operations.

    💡 Note: I will talk about applications in the next few sections, but this also holds true for any content (files, media, etc.) you will be deploying to these devices.

Let's take a quick walkthrough of what a typical enterprise application deployment cycle looks like:

  1. Once you get approval from your app development team, you’ll roll out the application to a small set of test devices. Hopefully, you have some automated tests that can run on these devices or are manually testing to ensure the application is working as desired.
  2. If all tests on this small test fleet are successful, you might roll out the app to either a staging or a UAT (User Acceptance Test) environment and give some of your end users access to this environment to ensure that their expectations are met.
  3. Finally, you will roll out to your production environment. If your fleet is small, this will likely be for all production devices, but it could be for different sets of devices based on your process.
  4. If the application is not up to spec at any point in this process, you will reject it and not proceed to the next stage of deployment.

Now, in a typical DevOps operation, this is called Continuous Delivery (CD) and is enabled via concepts such as pipelines, stages, and groups. With Esper, you have this ability at your disposal. Let's explore these in detail. 

    💡 Note: If you’re an expert in these concepts, please bear with me as I get everyone on the same page here.

Good so far? Let’s dig in!

What is Continuous Delivery (CD)? 

The DevOps software development philosophy hinges on the concepts of Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). CI is all about how the applications are built and the development lifecycle. This is typically the realm of product engineering teams, and we’ll leave that out of the scope of this post. 

Once a new application version is developed, CD kicks in. This is where we’ll focus for the rest of this article. This is typically where the team that manages production fleets gets engaged.  

Continuous Delivery is the Key to an Optimized Device Fleet

For most dedicated devices like kiosks, point of sale systems, self-checkout stations, etc., the software experience is what matters. For customer-facing devices, this is where you want to put your best foot forward and provide an innovative, intuitive, user-friendly solution. For employee-use devices, you need to streamline operations, reduce downtime, and maximize ROI. 

Either way, that means constant optimizations to provide the most ideal experience. Continuous delivery is how you achieve that. But how do you get there? 

With Esper Pipelines, of course! Our advanced software delivery mechanisms are based on core DevOps concepts and provide the seamless, predictable software delivery you need to optimize your device fleet without worrying about app updates — it’s part of what makes our platform unique. 

But You Can Take It a Step Further with Automation

Predictable, repeatable software delivery is a boon for IT and development teams, but what if I told you that we can also automate the process? Using Esper Blueprints, you can fully automate the process from scheduling to delivery across your entire device fleet. Blueprints ties directly into Pipelines, so when a new version of the app needs to be deployed, you simply update your blueprint with the app version, define the rollout using groups and stages in the pipeline, and just hit the button and watch the platform do its thing!

The power of front to back automation with absolutely no unnecessary interaction is invaluable to IT and dev teams, and a side effect of full automation means teams have more time to innovate and optimize since they’re not babysitting deployments. 

It’s Not Just for Apps, Either — You Can Streamline OS Updates, Too

Up to this point, we’ve focused on app updates, but continuous deployment tactics and automation don’t have to stop there — you can apply these philosophies to operating system updates, security patches, and other content, too! Users of our custom software solution Foundation receive regular updates for their builds. Using our OS deployment tools, they can leverage the same granular rollouts and automations as other software deployments. 

That means operating system updates of any kind are fully controlled. You can apply them to your test devices to ensure full app and peripheral compatibility before deploying the update to your entire device fleet. And even then, you can stage the update to roll out using groups instead of a single bulk deployment. 

This is Another Piece to the Drift Management Puzzle

Bringing the concept of drift management (which we covered in detail in part two of the series) back around, consistent app deployment is another piece of the puzzle. Or an answer to part of the problem, if you’d rather look at it like that. Compliance enforcement and drift management aren’t just about software settings and ideal experiences — it’s also about ensuring your devices are always running the latest version of your application or operating system and that device security is always up to date. 

The combination of drift management, automation, and intelligent software delivery is potent, primarily when used in concert. It’s device management on another level, unlike anything you’ve experienced. 

The Power of Predictable Software Delivery with Automation is a Game Changer

Yes, you can change a plane's wings as it is flying, and with Esper, you can automate that!

When we say that Esper is “next-gen device management,” this is what we mean. Predictable, repeatable, scalable software delivery at the edge has long been an issue for IT and development teams, so we built the solution. If you want to see just how much time (and headache) Esper can save you, sign up for a demo today


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Sudhir Reddy
Sudhir Reddy

Sudhir is Esper's Chief Technology Officer. He's a hands-on technologist that brings a unique blend of business acumen, product innovation, development of large-scale DevOps platforms, and execution capabilities to Esper.

Sudhir Reddy
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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Esper is Modern Device Management

For tablets, smartphones, kiosks, point of sale, IoT, and other business-critical edge devices.
MDM Software
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Kiosk mode

Hardened device lockdown for all devices (not just kiosks)
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App management

Google Play, Apple App Store, private apps, or a mix of all three
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Device groups

Manage devices individually, in user-defined groups, or all at once
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Remote tools

Monitor, troubleshoot, and update devices without leaving your desk
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Touchless provisioning

Turn it on and walk away — let your devices provision themselves
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Reporting and alerts

Custom reports and granular device alerts for managing by exception