How Enterprise level CI/CD with AppCircle helps you scale

Published on: April 25, 2024

As teams grow and companies mature you’ll often find that it gets harder and harder to manage processes that seemed to be so simple before.

When I worked in startups one of my favorite things was how quick the feedback cycle was on pretty much everything I did. When someone designed a new feature we could build that and ship it on Testflight as quick as a couple of hours. If the designer liked the way the implemented feature works they would sign off and off to App Review we’d go.

Usually everybody in the company would be on the Testflight version of an app and they’d install it whenever they wanted. It was all just a formality anyway because in a startup it’s important to keep shipping and improving. Feedback from other departments is great but at the end of the day you’re aiming to ship new features and improvements on a regular cycle.

In small teams you can manage these cycles quite easily. You probably don’t need any automation and you definitely don’t need advanced features and testing strategies that help you get multiple alpha and beta versions of your app into different teams’ hands.

In this post, I’d like to look past the startup phase and fast forward into the problems that arise once you reach a point where you could be considered an enterprise company. These are usually companies with large dev teams, multiple departments, and heightened security needs because of the amount of data and information they process.

There are three aspects of infrastructure in an enterprise environment that I’d like to highlight:

  • Shipping different builds in parallel
  • The importance of security and data ownership
  • Automating builds and app delivery

This is a sponsored post for AppCircle. Note that every sponsored post on this website is an honest review of a product and is always an accurate representation of my thoughts and opinions. Sponsored posts help keep the content on this site available for free

Shipping different builds in parallel

As projects grow more complex it’s not uncommon to want to have multiple versions of your app installed on a testing device. For example, you might be working on a new feature that relies on your server’s staging environment while also applying some bug fixes on your app’s production build. And maybe alongside these two builds you also want to have the App Store version of your app installed.

It might sound like a lot, overkill even, but being able to use a couple of different bundle identifiers for your apps to install them alongside each other is incredibly useful even when you’re just a small team.

In a larger company you’ll have your QA department, managers, and other roles that have different reasons to install different versions of your app.

Having a platform that makes it easy to install different build versions of your app (alpha, staging, prod) and even different versions of those builds (differentiated by build numbers) will allow everybody to do their job well. This is particularly true for QA where they’ll want to install specific builds to test new features or bug fixes.

Platforms like AppCircle offer ways to allow teams to download and test specific builds as needed. I’ve found that AppCircle’s approach to this works as well as you’d expect and has the ability to create different groups of users and assign specific builds to them. This means that you can send QA very specific and testable builds of your app while your managers only have access to beta builds that are almost ready to go to production.

If you’re working within a large company that requires enterprise-level access control and data ownership, let’s take a look at how AppCircle solves this for their enterprise customers.

The importance of security and data ownership

The more people have access to your user’s data and your app’s experimental and in-development features, the more security risks you’re taking on. Limiting access to data and app builds is an essential feature. When you’re looking for a platform that runs your builds and hosts your test binaries it’s essential that you make sure that the platform’s security features align with your needs.

When you require enterprise features, AppCircle has got you. They have very granular access controls which I think is an essential feature.

Enterprise customers for AppCircle all have access to SSO which in corporate environments has always been something that I’ve seen listed as a must-have. At the moment AppCircle offers LDAP as SSO provider but they’re working on Okta integration at the moment. And if your company uses a different SSO provider I know that AppCircle are always open to getting more SSO providers into their product.

SSO for enterprise is an absolute must have since a corporation wants to be able to shut down or lock accounts with a single step and not worry about which other accounts a user might have; they want to manage their users and the services they access in a single place. Less fragmentation in this sense means less risk of security breaches.

Most importantly, it might be absolutely crucial for you to be able to self-host services so that you can make sure that not just your accounts but also your data are completely protected using standards and tools that your company uses and requires.

Large players like GitHub and Atlassian offer this and so does AppCircle.

You can host AppCircle on servers you own while retaining access to first-class support that’s provided through a Slack channel that gives you access to experts directly. This is something that I haven’t encountered before and I think it’s really powerful that AppCircle does this to help keep their enterprise customers going.

Self-hosting’s biggest drawback is always that you’re taking on cost, effort, and risk to make sure your instances keep running. I was pretty impressed to learn that AppCircle goes to great lengths to help reduce each of these three drawbacks by providing the best support they possibly can.

Automating builds and app delivery

While it’s great that AppCircle provides all these enterprise features that I’ve mentioned above, their core business is to become your build and app delivery system. The features they provide for this are exactly what you’d hope for. You can connect AppCircle to your git repository, automatically trigger builds on push or PR creation, and you can run periodic builds to provide nightly alpha’s for example.

The pipelines you build with AppCircle integrate all the way from your git repository to their enterprise app store (where employees can download your internal apps from), their beta testing platform, and even to App Store delivery. All in all they provide a good experience setting this up with reliable builds and they really go to great lengths to make sure that their CI is everything you expect from a good CI provider.

In Summary

As mentioned in the introduction, a company’s needs change as the company grows in terms of complexity. Once you hit a point where you can consider yourself an enterprise developer, it makes sense to start picking your service providers more carefully.

You’ll require fast and reliable support, advanced security measures, granular user and account management, sometimes you’ll even need to have the service running on servers that you own.

AppCircle can help you do all of this and it’s honestly an impressive product that’s growing and improving rapidly. The mix of app distribution, analytics, and CI that they offer is super useful and if I were to request more I would love to see crash reporting be a part of AppCircle too so that you can fully rely on an on-premises AppCircle instance that works for all your infrastructure needs without sending your data to a server you don’t own or control.

If you’d like to learn more about AppCircle and see whether it makes sense for you and your company to switch your infrastructure please let me know so I can get you connected to the right people for a demo and a chat.


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