finishing features in a hockey stick, with most of the features finishing at the end of the iteration? This is tricky, and leads to staged integration, and makes for staged integration in a program if all the feature teams do this.
What I see in some teams quite new to agile: Do your features span iterations ? If your features span iterations, you need to make your features smaller. The reason to make your features smaller has nothing to do with continuous integration yet. Making features smaller is all about seeing your progress and providing feedback to the product owner/customer and making sure you actually complete work inside the iteration. If you are using kanban, this is similar to seeing a board not change for weeks while the same features are still on the board, nothing moving. You are also likely doing staged integration.
If some of your feature teams do one thing, some of your feature teams do something else and you need a way to merge them all together. When I work with program teams, I find the teams doing some of each of these. And, the waterfall teams are doing something else entirely. On a program, we need a way to bring the entire product together on a periodic basis.
Stay tuned for part 2.