Get your product to market, before competitor does it!
Making software ready for release has been handled differently in different software development methodologies. Waterfall model releases a software when all of the required functionalities for that release have been completed and tested. Agile followed a strategy where software was released regularly (say once in two weeks) throughout the entire development cycle. These methods have inherent limitations in supporting current market and customer needs.
It is critical that companies need a faster and more effective process of getting their product in to market before a competitor does it. It is also important to push any new features and bug fixes in to production more frequently to keep the customers happy. This requires integration of digital technology and transformation in to the current development and deployment processes to deliver added value to customers.
What is CICD?
Deliver new features and bug-free code at high velocity!
CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment) is a way of developing software in which software can be released at any time, in a sustainable way. In CI/CD, changing code is routine, development cycles are more frequent, meaningful and faster. It is much more than just automation, it lets business to get new solutions into market as quickly, efficiently and cheaply as possible. CI/CD enables tech companies to improve their products many times a day.
Continuous Integration (CI) is the process where a developer commits code changes into a source control system several times a day. The code is then build and verified by automated testing processes, enabling developers to identify issues, if any. Whereas, Continuous Deployment (CD) refers to the automated process of releasing the software which passes the automated tests, into an environment. Additionally, approval workflows can be integrated, so that code will be deployed to production only after getting necessary approvals from the business.
CI is a developer’s practice and CD an operator’s practice
Advantages of CICD:
- Get new solutions and features to market quickly, frequently and efficiently
- Reduced cost of ownership
- Reduce human errors, improve reliability and achieve faster MTTR (Mean Time To Resolution)
- Lesser risk in new releases
- Integrated roll back options at the push of a button
- Better customer experience and satisfaction
- Improve developer productivity
- Ability to release software in small chunks, more frequently
- Automated of testing, code review, and other analysis
- Automation with approval workflows
Frequent releases, happy customers!
A CI/CD pipeline automates the software delivery process. It merges the code changes in central repository, builds code, runs tests (CI), and safely deploys a new version of the application (CD) to QA, staging or production environments. Automated pipelines remove manual errors, provide standardized feedback loops to developers, and enable fast product iterations.
With CI, each change in code triggers an automated build-and-test sequence for the given project, providing feedback to the developer(s) who made the change. CD includes infrastructure provisioning and deployment, which may be manual and consist of multiple stages. What’s important is that all these processes are fully automated, with each run fully logged and visible to the entire team.
DevOps automation made easy!
A typical CICD pipeline has the following stages,
- Developer commits code changes to version control
- Code commit triggers a build process
- Build process will pull the latest code from version control and creates a build (code review, unit tests, docker build, etc. can be automated).
- Developer can review the build and test results and make any corrections required.
- Create application environment. Execute automated infrastructure as code steps and to set up application environment (which can be staging, QA or production)
- Deploy build to the target computing environment.
- Set up environment variables and configure them for the target environment and start required services
- Execute continuous tests (smoke tests, integration tests) and rollback, if tests fail.
- Review log data and alerts created on each stage of the delivery process.
It’s often common that the business team do not want to release changes directly to production environments after testing without proper manual approvals. This implies that, continuous delivery pipeline requires an approval workflow to be integrated with it, so that one or more levels of manual approvals can be introduced to approve every deployment to production.
The main difference between continuous delivery and continuous deployment is that continuous delivery requires testing or approval prior to launching updates, as opposed to the automated nature of continuous deployment.
Automate to achieve higher productivity, efficiency, quality and security!
Choosing the right tool for your business would certainly be an important responsibility as well. More often, it is not about choosing one best tool, but multiple tools may be selected based on the requirements of the project. A good CI/CD tool can leverage teams’ current workflow, to best exploit the automation feature and create a solid CI/CD pipeline, and give teams the boost they need to thrive CICD. As the CI CD continues to grow and evolve, it leaves the innovators with more chances to explore on creating the best versions of such tools.
Some of the most commonly used CI/CD tools are Jenkins, Bamboo, Gitlab, CodeShip, CircleCI, TeamCity, TravisCI, Buddy, AWS CodeBuild, Azure DevOps, etc
Some of the major considerations for choosing a good CICD software are as follows:
- SaaS vs Self Hosted: Whether you want Software as a Service tools or locally hosted systems
- Integration Options: Whether the tool provides compatibility and integration options with other software tools and systems to streamline the delivery process.
- Testing Features: Utilize a product that offers more automation features to speed up the testing process
- Monitoring Options: After the update is made, it is important to monitor the updated feature and ensure that it is functioning well. Need monitoring features to catch any incorrect modifications or faulty updates before they affect customer’ use.
- Security: Choose a product that is secure and will avoid accidental modifications. A product that allows you to control user access. That is, only select staff members will have the ability to make certain changes to the application.
- Support for Hybrid Platforms: Tools which support deployments to on-premise or hybrid cloud platforms to be selected for flexibility.
With the growing business needs, competition and customer expectations out in the market, it is unavoidable to have a CICD pipeline implemented as part of your software development process. It not only eliminates a lot of inherent problems that you have today with manual build and deployment but also provides additional features and advantages which will enable faster delivery of newer features to enlighten your customers. Care should be taken to select the best tools and products, that suits your CICD needs.
About The Author
Dr. Anil Kumar
Founder | Architect | Consultant | Mentor | Advisor | Faculty
Solution Architect & IT Consultant with more than 25 yrs of IT Experience. Served in various roles, with both national and international institutions. Expertise in working with both legacy and advanced technology stacks and business domains.