Why Buy a Mobile CI/CD Solution

The dilemma software engineering leadership often faces is whether they should build, partner, or buy in order to facilitate their business needs. Learn why given the unique set of tasks mobile applications present, businesses would be well served by looking outside their walls for assistance with their app delivery and buying a mobile CI/CD solution.

Building out a mobile continuous integration and continuous delivery (mobile CI/CD) pipeline to bring applications to market can be daunting. There are numerous steps that code must pass through to complete the software development lifecycle (SDLC). 

Before embarking on a new project, the dilemma software engineering leadership often faces is whether they should build, partner, or buy in order to facilitate their business needs. If you ask the engineers on your team, you will almost certainly hear that they want to build their own solution. This isn’t all that surprising—engineers want to build! However, as a leader, there are a few things to consider before agreeing with them.

Mobile applications introduce their own set of unique tasks that traditional web and desktop applications do not need to account for in their SDLC. For this reason, businesses would be well served by looking outside of their walls for assistance. This article will outline a few of the key reasons why you should consider buying a mobile CI/CD solution.

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Top reasons you might be tempted to build from scratch

But first, we should acknowledge that there are a few reasons that building your own solution might sound appealing.

One major benefit is that it gives you the flexibility to meet your business's specific nuances and needs. Not all ecosystems are the same and “off-the-shelf” software will only cover a broad range of commonalities. Engineers with the time to build custom software can embed the specific features that your business requires. Thus, complete control is perhaps the biggest benefit of choosing to build the platform. You control the features in your solution while maintaining compatibility. Another benefit of building from scratch is that you avoid any dependencies on outside vendors. Whenever you use any off-the-shelf product, you are at the mercy of the vendor when it comes to product deprecation, vulnerabilities, or even acquisition by a competitor.

Building your new CI/CD platform to meet the needs of your custom ecosystem has some benefits. But do the benefits outweigh the cost?

Save on precious resources by purchasing a mobile CI/CD solution

Building a full-fledged CI/CD platform from scratch requires many resources. Personnel is a huge component. You will need a team of full-time developers to build a minimum viable product for use. 

As the custom solution takes shape, quality assurance engineers are needed to test the platform. Additionally, operations professionals will have to be on hand to ensure the pipeline is running smoothly. These engineers and operations professionals don’t come cheap; and oftentimes more personnel are required than originally estimated.

Outside of the people, infrastructure must also be considered. A CI/CD pipeline built in-house has to live on servers located in your on-premises data center. The biggest challenges will inevitably be maintenance and scalability. The iOS and Android operating systems are constantly being refactored. As such, your organization’s pipeline will need to accommodate these changes, and the necessary software and hardware updates will have to be managed by your team. 

Given the mobile-specific nature of this CI/CD pipeline and the need to deliver iOS applications, your in-house data center will require Mac hardware. This is yet another resource consideration adding additional overhead to an already busy team. Also, time is taken away from development as additional hardware will be required to meet demands as the service grows. These compounding costs and maintenance can be a burden worth paying to remove. 

While building a custom solution may seem like the best route for the business's unique needs, the resource requirements may ultimately be too much. Time saved from your developers and operations professionals means more money saved. By buying the services of a CI/CD pipeline, the on-premises hardware constraints are eliminated. Scalability concerns go out the window when you can simply provision more cloud resources. Having to hire additional personnel is likely no longer an issue because the maintenance of keeping up with the changes iOS and Android operating systems require is pushed off to the cloud service provider.

Buy a mobile CI/CD solution to allocate time appropriately

Whether the entire CI/CD pipeline is built internally or parts of it are brought in from third-party solutions, a great deal of time is spent in development. Any time that is spent here is time not spent building out potential features and functions in your mobile application that users want to see. Where your engineers are spending their time can have a drastic impact on the business. It’s important to compare the cost of time to the cost of a pre-built solution.

As many in the software industry are aware, there is always something that sneaks up. You truly “don’t know what you don’t know” when it comes to solving a new problem. Buying a CI/CD solution puts the onus on the provider to remain the expert in the field, solving these complex problems, and improving their offering for your business as they move forward.

Another implication of taking on the development in-house is the dreaded “scope creep,” aka when your project grows beyond its initial scope. The more scope that creeps into the project development board, the longer the project drags out until it can be released. Time-to-market can make all the difference when it comes to driving an organization's revenue goals. Buying a third-party managed mobile CI/CD solution ensures you can have what you need, provisioned in a short period of time, and move on with developing exactly what’s needed.

The choice is yours

One of the biggest motivating factors for buying a mobile CI/CD solution is avoiding the unknown. When setting out to do it yourself, you take on risk as an organization. There are always unforeseen issues in development, but the extent to which those alter the cost, time, and personnel needs can be difficult to predict.

Of course, there are benefits to driving the production of a homegrown solution like full control of the infrastructure and how the code aligns with your ecosystem. However, these nuances take time away from the individuals who are working to ensure the company brings revenue through the doors.

To remove as many variables as possible from the equation, look to buy your mobile-ready CI/CD solution. Quickly integrate your products and reap the benefits that the DevOps culture provides. If you're searching for an off-the-shelf mobile CI/CD solution but are struggling to provide the ROI to your team, read "How to Justify the Cost of Appflow".

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