According to a report in Forbes on Wednesday, Microsoft’s Bing search engine has shifted to a continuous development cycle, with the company stating its previous development cycle was hindering innovation.
Previously, Bing’s code deployments could take up to a month or longer, which was the same case with software builds. This led to programmers being afraid to even initiate deployments during the work day, instead opting to deploy them after hours.
According to Microsoft’s version of events, “Developers would battle in the war room for their feature to be included in a deployment… and if one critical feature for deployment got delayed, then everyone got delayed. Throughout the organization, there was concern that this team was moving at the rate of a dinosaur – and a dinosaur wouldn’t be able to survive in the highly competitive industry of online search.”
Bing is now going the way most modern software development has — shipping code at a daily rate of deployment. This change didn’t happen overnight, the company has stated significant cultural and technological changes had to be overcome. In addition, the team had to break away from habits learned through years of writing and deploying code as they had been.
Microsoft states that its Bing development team routinely exceeds the new goal of shipping new code each day, with multiple pieces of code being shipped out daily. This equates to roughly 20 pieces of new code being shipped in a week, creating as many as 4000 changes to the search engine. This might sound like overkill, but Forbes notes that this many changes per week is not unusual for a modern enterprise application.
The typical code change goes through 20,000 automated tests, which takes only 20 minutes to determine whether or not it should be shipped. Bing can scrap the ones it doesn’t want and keep the good ones.
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