What to Know About Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) Tools in Software Development

Continuous Integration Tools in Software DevelopmentTwo crucial elements that enable successful software development are continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery/deployment (CD). It ensures consumers receive new features and bug fixes as soon as feasible.



What Is CI/CD?

Continuous integration (CI) is an approach of automatically combining modified codes from several developers into a single codebase. Developers engage in this technique by frequently publishing their work on the main code database like GitHub or Stash. Once integrated, there are automatic tools that construct the just contributed code, perform a code review, etc.


The main objectives of CI are to detect and fix issues quickly, make it simpler for a team of developers to integrate their code, increase product caliber and reduce the amount of time it takes to ship new feature updates. Some prominent CI tools are Jenkins, TeamCity and Bamboo.


While continuous delivery and continuous deployment are related ideas, continuous deployment is an extension of the continuous delivery concept. Both deal with automating pipeline steps after the initial stages, however, they are occasionally used independently to highlight the extent of automation.


Continuous delivery typically means that an operations team can deploy a developer’s changes to a live production environment after they have been automatically checked for bugs and submitted to a repository. It provides a solution to the limited visibility and communication of the development and business teams. The primary purpose of continuous delivery is to ensure that deploying new code requires minimal work.


Continuous deployment, on the other hand, is the more automated process pushing changes made by developers from the repository to a live environment where users can access them. This reduces the burden on operations teams by limiting the number of manual tasks that can delay app development and delivery.


To prevent the final release from being broken in production, integration and regression, tests must be conducted in the staging area which guarantees automation of the entire software release process. AWS CodeDeploy and GitLab are some examples of popular CD tools.


How Does CI/CD Work?

When a developer pushes their code to a version control system like Git, the pipeline for CI is triggered, fetching the changes and starting an automated build and unit test. The server then tells the concerned developer of the success or failure of the integration of the new code to the current code base, based on the step’s state.


This makes it easier to identify and fix errors, helps developers avoid manual work, increases productivity and enables teams to provide updates to consumers more frequently. It has been discovered that integrating the complete development cycle can cut the developer’s time commitment in half to three quarters, which is vital for quick development.


After completing the CI stage, the code is deployed to the staging environment where it is put through additional automated testing such as acceptance testing, regression testing, etc. The product is then finally released after being deployed to the production environment.


Benefits of CI/CD

There are many advantages of CI/CD for enterprises, some of them are:

1. Ensure Excellent Coding Quality

A set of automated tests that are run on each deployment are at the foundation of any CI/CD process. Although creating automated testing requires time and expertise, doing so has various advantages. 


Testing is a repetitive procedure requiring high levels of focus. It can be done considerably more frequently because automated tests run faster than their manual counterparts and also guarantee consistency and reliability.


Regular and thorough testing can help you find flaws in your code earlier and make it simpler to resolve them as fewer features would have been added on top of them. This leads to higher-quality code over time.


Once automated tests are run on the first layer, you may run additional tests on other layers that include end-to-end or performance tests and manual exploratory testing.


2. Faster Time to Market

Big enterprises had set a trend by adopting Agile and DevOps techniques to completely restructure their development processes and provide ongoing enhancements to their consumers. But as more and more smaller firms are following suit, the market is getting increasingly competitive.


Understanding the requirements of your users, developing novel features and implementing them into a strong code and deploying strategies allow you to experiment and get feedback. These help to customize future updates, allowing you to deliver new features quickly.


With an automated CI/CD process you can publish updates on a monthly, daily or even hourly basis. The goal is to implement modification without any downtime and with minimal impact on the user.


3. Efficient Infrastructure

Any CI/CD pipeline must include automation to make the release process repeatable and dependable. Automating the build process and creating and executing automated tests will be your primary concerns in the early stages of establishing CI followed by automating deployment strategies.


Automating the development of these settings is part of the infrastructure-as-code strategy. To swiftly bring new platforms online without the danger of accidental changes and inconsistencies, individual servers are not managed manually. Instead, their configuration is programmed and kept in version control.


With less disruption to development activity, you can respond promptly to demands for more preview and training environments as a result of the CD stage being faster and more reliable.


4. Reduced Risks

Product managers and marketing experts have the chance to get involved in the development process with rapid releases. You can validate your strategy before spending time and money, by working on a feature that solves a problem for your users and by testing your innovations with users early and frequently.


You can either test with participants in a pre-production environment or with real users in live situations. The chance of significant failures and downtime is decreased because of continuous deployment, as it enables developers to immediately identify and address issues.


5. Shorter Review Time

Developers are encouraged to publish their code changes frequently with continuous integration. Regularly exchanging code with the development group guarantees that everyone is building from the same base and speeds up code reviews and makes it simpler to incorporate changes.


Working with fewer changes means that there is less for a code reviewer to absorb. You can better understand how the logic develops because smaller updates result in more detailed statements. Additionally, there is less code to rewrite and less disagreement to settle if a change is necessary.


6. Smoother Path to Production

The ideal way to adopt CI/CD is slowly, starting with CI techniques and gradually expanding your development process. As you start releasing updates regularly, you’ll find inefficiencies in your process, such as the need to modify parameters before deploying on a specific machine or updating data in a test environment.


Each step becomes consistent and reliable by adding automation for builds, tests, environment creation and deployments. The automated build process involves many checks along with gathering all the components needed for your program to operate. Once it is sorted, you can keep improving each step to make your approach more effective.


With CI/CD releasing, an important event that keeps numerous teams busy for several days becomes a routine and predictable occurrence.


7. Substantial Growth

A large number of the solutions for automated CI/CD support the process as well, giving you access to a wide range of metrics including build times, test coverage, defect rates and test fix times.


With the help of this information, you can identify potential problem areas and keep developing your pipeline. Slower builds indicate a need for more capacity, whereas an increase in average fix times indicates process issues.


CI and CD are methods for fusing the efforts of numerous individuals into a single, coherent result that is quicker and exact. By providing developers with a single database to store their work and automation tools to regularly integrate and test the code to guarantee its functions, CI/CD speeds application coding, testing and deployment in application development and operations (DevOps).

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