Achieving Continuous Delivery with LaunchDarkly

How CircleCI is using feature management to transform their continuous delivery practices.

CircleCI Overview

CircleCI was founded in 2011 with the mission of giving every developer state-of-the-art automated testing and continuous integration tools. Today, they are a modern continuous integration and delivery platform that is shaping the landscape of modern DevOps.

CircleCI Timeline

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Challenge

CircleCI, a company with continuous delivery in its DNA, is no stranger to feature flagging. Before LaunchDarkly, CircleCI was routinely feature flagging, but management was ad hoc. They had built a couple rudimentary systems for implementing project feature flags, one using their Slack installation and a bot to disable and enable things. These systems fit together poorly, and didn’t meet all their requirements. They wanted to be able to do percentage rollouts, for instance, to enable a feature for 10% of users. They also wanted a tool they could use to collaborate with the product managers on their team.

While CircleCI had engineers on staff who were savvy in feature flagging systems, they didn’t want the stress of building or maintaining something more sophisticated. Despite the perceived value of such a system, they didn’t want to take focus off of their core business.

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Solution

CircleCI knew a full-featured feature flagging system would be valuable, but didn’t have the resources to build and maintain a sophisticated system that wasn’t core to their business. When they heard that buying a feature flagging system was an option, they jumped right in with a trial. Within months they had implemented LaunchDarkly across the entire engineering and product teams and immediately started to see the results.

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Results

LaunchDarkly fundamentally changed the way CircleCI builds software. By reducing friction between the Product and Engineering teams, they've recognized they are developing in a way they feel is much healthier. The Engineering team has seen dramatic savings in time and focus, and the Product team has the control they need to deliver features to specific users as necessary.

I really like LaunchDarkly, and I'm glad we're using it. I believe that feature flags are a critical piece of modern development, and LaunchDarkly brings this part of continuous delivery to the masses.

Rob Zuber

Rob Zuber

CTO, CircleCI

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