Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was it built with a single tool. Similarly, there are several ways in which developers approach building good products. As the technology evolved throughout the years, these methods have also gone from obsolete to relevant, based on the requirement. In today’s time when SaaS (software-as-a-service) has become a norm, the development of products takes place more frequently, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Previously considered impossible, such pathbreaking methodology has changed the definition of software development in many ways. Formerly named as ‘Waterfall’, and then known as ‘Agile’ development, here developers faced the challenge of deploying products on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis. Currently ‘DevOps’ has minimized the inherent barriers through automation, which otherwise created a delay in the release systems.
CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, which combines to form one such development tool that developers use, especially multiple times in a day for better collaboration. In this tool, the Continuous Integration method is used to check for integration bugs beforehand leading to maximum cohesion in the development process. It is then followed by Continuous Delivery that revolves around the idea of reducing any chances of pain points in the deploying process, to streamline the control flow. Finally, the Continuous Deployment implements automation at an advanced level that automatically deploys when the code undergoes any editing. Overall, the focus of this tool lies in automating the processes involved in the development of products, including the release of safe code in the time of need.
All three methodologies – Agile, DevOps, and CI/CD are unique to each other and when used together can produce high-end results. However, when it comes to CI/CD methodology, it is important that the right set of tools are used in the process. But, before going to the tools, let’s talk about the CI/CD development pipeline in detail:
For modern application development, developers in an enterprise work together on different functionalities within the same application. There are also other organizations that bring together all these isolated processes merging into one whole app, but that needs constant checks and measures. For example, if there’s a developer who brings about certain changes into the code, then it could also change/counteract with the work of other developers working parallely on the same application. Thus, it is often dealt with by organizations facilitating each developer to harbor their own local integrated development environment, also known as IDE to keep things intact. This is exactly where Continuous Integration comes into play.
By definition, continuous integration stands for seamless integration of isolated codes into a common branch (also known as trunk), with more frequency. In this process, as soon as a developer’s work gets integrated into the systems, the modifications get tested by automated development of the application and running it through different stages of automated testing. In this way, if there’s any conflict or unwanted repercussions that might occur in the new code from the existing code, it can be easily resolved, and as many times as required.
Taking from the automated builds and testing in CI, in this process as the code gets validation from the process, the code is then released and stored automatically into a repository. Therefore, for a streamlined continuous delivery process, the CI needs to take place seamlessly for the code vault and keep up with any possible deployment into production. Generally, the operations take over once the Continuous Delivery process is completed.
An advanced stage in the CI/CD pipeline, in this stage, if there’s any major change detected in the code, the automated build and deployment take place accordingly. The process facilitates making live deployment changes to each code modification that has passed the Continuous Implementation level. The safekeeping of the code from any manual processes, right from its initial to deployment stage, is exactly why the argument of continuous deployment holds water.
CI/CD Pipeline: Tools
As discussed earlier, without the right tool the CI/CD pipeline cannot be optimized to yield effective and time-sensitive product delivery. No, Google wouldn’t help you this time, because there are half a billion different tools online that claim to take care of the processes involved easily. Based on experience and reviews, here are some of the tools that deliver what they promise:
- Jenkins – An open-source tool, this is perfect for enterprises with a tight budget.
- Cruise Control – In case you need to take care of the cloud-hosting services, Cruise Control can be a good place to start setting up, configuring, and monitoring your application.
- GitLab CI/CD, Drone CI are some of the tools that can help you have complete transparency about the build status via email notifications.
Advantages of a CI/CD pipeline
The primary objective of any software application is to ensure faster reachability as well as credibility. The CI/CD pipeline fits comfortably into the sleeves of both the features, as it integrates the product with better build and lesser risks, and provides maximum accessibility to the customers. Some of the other benefits include:
Quick Feedbacks: The CI pipeline is built in a way that puts validation and speed in its center. Every time an isolated code gets into the existing code, the automated tests ensure continuous links across all stages.
Maximum Transparency: At every step of the way, the builds, the test results, and the conflicts can be easily accessed and corrected. Such transparency removes any possible bottlenecks and promotes faster deployment to the production stage.
Early Detection of Bugs: Once the bugs get detected at an early stage via automated tests, chances are higher for an effective build.
What Lies Ahead?
As faster software development takes the spotlight, there are several areas in your development tools and processes that would need updating. Especially, if you’re deploying multiple times in a day, your current hour-long testing processes won’t be able to keep up. Adopting a solid, faster development pipeline is essential, as it will only optimize your DevOps services in the long run.
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