Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)


More and more organizations are benefiting from adopting continuous integration and continuous delivery, known as CI/CD. These practices are key to bringing agility, speed and higher quality to the software that transforms businesses.

We adopt CI/CD to deliver software faster, more frequently and with fewer errors.

Some advantages of adopting CI/CD practices

  • Deliver or release code immediately, without waiting to accumulate many features, tickets or independent developments.

  • Less effort and more confidence when deploying code at the production stage.

  • It facilitates teamwork and communication between software developers. This way, the desired approach can be validated before working on something that does not really solve the problem for the users.

  • Increased visibility of the code being developed. Each release of an application will contain a small number of code changes, making it easier to identify the cause of a problem.

  • Test automation ensures that tests are performed consistently, making the results more reliable. Since automated tests are faster to run than manual tests, they can be run more frequently, resulting in higher quality code as errors are discovered earlier and can be corrected more easily.

  • If any new change in the code messes up the application, it can be immediately returned to its previous state, displaying again the last successful compilation, avoiding interruptions in the operation.

  • At each stage of the development process a large number of logs can be generated, being a rich source of information to study the behavior of the application.

Through the CI/CD methodology the team has complete control over the development and production process, testing and integrating changes to verify that everything works correctly. 

How much effort is it taking you to deploy code?

The level of effort required to integrate and deploy code highlights the maturity level of your technical processes.

Doing a single code integration at the end of the development process, accumulating code to deploy every week or fortnight, or in general a high failure rate in deployments, are an important indicator of an opportunity for improvement.

Continuous Integration (CI) is a practice that increases the effectiveness and efficiency of the results of the developers' team. It involves combining, periodically and in a central repository, the changes made to the code of a project, in order to run tests and thus detect and repair errors as soon as possible.

This methodology allows to improve code quality, deliver progress to the client more frequently and work agilely with new team members, even if they do not know the entire project in depth.

 "Detecting code problems is much easier with CI, preventing these errors from reaching customers."

What to do if there is a knowledge gap?

Many organizations seeking to implement these methodologies fail in the process because they do not have people within the team with the necessary expertise to design the right CI/CD solution.

Implementing this process is difficult if you do not have a guide that contains adequate information. Reading about the subject can help a lot, however, it is much better and more efficient to have the advice of an expert on the subject.

One of the most frequent mistakes in the implementation of these methodologies is the correct automation required for the testing period. One of the common questions that comes up is: "How can I integrate automated testing into my CI/CD solution? " 

Automating code testing is complex because it requires having the right tools for the team and the type of project, automating repetitive tasks and having processes to review, plan and re-evaluate each step of the methodology.

What is Continuous Integration (CI)?

With Continuous Integration, developers often integrate their code into the main branch of a common repository. 

Instead of developing parts of the code in isolation and integrating them at the end of the production cycle, a developer will contribute changes to a part of the repository several times a day.

The idea here is to reduce integration costs by having developers perform integrations faster and more frequently. In practice, a developer will often discover conflicts between new and existing code at the time of integration. 

If this is done early and often, the expectation is that conflict resolution will be easier and less costly.

Continuous Integration Requirements

  • The team should create automated tests to detect inconsistencies in new developments. To do this, each task should be broken down into smaller segments to make it easier to complete and test the set of changes for commit.

  • You will need a continuous integration server that allows monitoring and running tests automatically for each new confirmation that is achieved.

  • Developers should merge changes quickly and continuously, at least once a day.

  • It is essential to have a version control system. If you have one, you should get everything in it and get everyone involved in using it.

  • In addition to sharing code changes with project participants, the application must be checked to ensure that it can be compiled with the latest changes. Although this can be done manually, it is easier and more efficient for the compilation to be done automatically, using a continuous integration server.

  • For greater reliability, it is important to run several tests, being more efficient to run them automatically rather than manually.

  • It is only worth automating builds and tests if you are going to do something with the information received. Continuous integration tools offer a variety of feedback mechanisms. 

Benefits of Continuous Integration

  • It makes software development easier, faster and less risky for developers. By automating builds and tests, developers can make smaller modifications and commit with confidence. Developers receive faster feedback on their code, increasing the overall pace of innovation.

  • There are not as many errors and errors are prevented from being sent to production. Automated testing catches regressions very quickly. Allows fixes to be implemented faster, reducing mean time to resolution and time to restore service.

  • Developing releases is easier. Problems that occur in the integration are solved much faster. Automated testing greatly reduces the number of failures that reach the operation.

  • Testing is no longer a major cost to the team, as IC allows many tests to be performed in a matter of seconds.

  • Quality control is much better.

  • By arriving at the operation with fewer errors, users are satisfied and have a better experience.

What is Continuous Delivery (CD)?

Continuous delivery is actually an extension of Continuous Integration, in which the software delivery process is automated to enable easy and reliable deployments to production at any time.

A well-implemented Continuous Delivery (CD) process requires a code base that can be deployed at any time. With continuous delivery, releases of new changes occur frequently and routinely. 

Teams continue with daily development tasks with the confidence that they can send a quality release to production, any time they want, without a complicated implementation and without having to follow manual steps executed by a specialist.

Continuous delivery is considered attractive primarily because it automates all the steps from the integration of the code into the base repository to the release of fully tested and functionally adequate changes.

The process consists of a complex automation of the processes of compilation (if necessary), testing, updating of production servers and adjustment of code used on new machines. 

At all times, the autonomy of the business to decide what modifications are published and when they should be made is maintained.

Continuous Delivery Requirements

  • Solid foundation of Continuous Integration. Your test environment should cover a large amount of code base.

  • You must have the same compilation application through each stage of the process in order to be able to rely on the evidence from the previous stages.

  • The required implementations must be automated. Although it is activated manually, once started it does not require human presence.

  • For the automated delivery process to be effective, developers must take responsibility for maintaining it and for fixing any problems that arise, whether they are due to a bug in the code or a problem with automated testing or deployments.

  • Maintaining all configuration files in version control helps ensure consistent and repeatable deliveries.

Benefits of Continuous Delivery

  • The productivity of the development team is improved by freeing them from manual tasks, allowing them to dedicate more time to improving the level of service and adding new functionalities that generate business value.

  • An automated workflow ensures that tasks are always completed in the same way.

  • Since continuous delivery allows for more frequent and thorough testing with ease because the entire process is automated, developers will be able to discover and fix bugs before they become more serious problems.

  • It enables you to deliver updates faster and more frequently, increasing operational confidence, service levels and regulatory compliance, because with a standardized testing process, tasks are completed efficiently every time.

What is Continuous Deployment (Continuous Deployment)?

This is a more advanced form of Continuous Delivery in that deployments to production are not subject to human validation but are fully automated.

The only way to stop new developments in production is through a test that fails and identifies errors. Implementing Continuous Deployment is a way to accelerate feedback, making the team's work more efficient.

Thanks to this type of deployment, developers can get to see their work up and running shortly after it is done, but it requires more effort in best practices and automated processes.

Continuous Deployment Requirements

  • Automated testing and compilation is a prerequisite for automated deployment. The better the quality of testing, the better the quality of each release.

  • A script must be created for deployment in each environment, so that it can be executed automatically.

  • For each new deployment, environments must be reset to the same conditions. This is easy to implement thanks to containers, either on the local infrastructure or in the cloud.

  • To automate deployment in each environment, there must be a clear separation between the application as such and the environment-specific parameters.

  • High confidence in the process is required, especially in automated testing. It is essential to create a culture of testing, prioritizing remediation of the build and process over the release of new features.

  • It may seem risky, because if an error is not detected in testing and appears in the operation, you could put time, money and reputation at risk. Therefore, it is important to be proactive in looking for problems, rather than waiting to receive bug reports.

  • The documentation process must be kept up to date, coordinating communication with other departments such as "support" or "marketing".

Benefits of Continuous Deployment

  • Everything is automatically triggered for each change. Code changes are quickly implemented in the operation by gradually removing all bottlenecks at each stage.

  • Each new version has fewer risks, because as changes occur, problems are identified and can be fixed more easily.

  • The flow is continuous and of high quality. This is the most important benefit for customers. Overall cost is reduced by eliminating the cost of idle environments.

  • Minimizes the time required to set up development environments. Blockages, delays and errors are avoided by eliminating human intervention.

What do I need to adopt CI/CD?

Adopting CI/CD may seem daunting at first, especially for developers who are already under time and resource pressures.

Here are some best practices to help set up a successful CI/CD pipeline.

1. Ensuring end-to-end observation

  • To maintain code quality, visibility into the entire CI/CD pipeline is required. Implementing an end-to-end "observation" application provides code-level visibility of all builds and services in an environment.

  • This platform should capture metrics, logs and tracking to reveal technical performance, as well as user experience, to know how the builds are affecting the results.

2. Automate

  • One way to work more efficiently is to identify and automate each repetitive process in a CI/CD pipeline. Repetitive processes can be automated throughout the project, from development to testing to deployment. This reduces the risk of error and allows more time to be spent writing code and delivering new services to the business.

3. Adopt a target-driven approach to service level objectives.

  • If developers are to create high quality software, they must also take responsibility for pre-production environments. Service level objectives must be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline and be part of the requirements that every new build must meet.

4. Validate continuous quality

  • The quality assessment process should be automated to detect bad code at each stage of the lifecycle. The ability to merge test results, take monitoring data into account and automatically calculate a quality score to compare builds gives developers the ability to accelerate delivery and move on to new implementations without sacrificing code quality.

Tools for CI/CD

Among the tools that can help implement CI/CD are the following:

  • AWS CodePipeline: A fully managed continuous delivery service that automates release pipelines for fast and reliable application updates.

  • Azure Pipelines: This is a free (up to 30 hours per month) CI/CD service in the cloud to automatically compile and test code to finally make it available to users.

  • Jenkins: It is the best known tool in the market for continuous integration (CI). It is developed in Java with open source code and is compatible with several version control systems.

  • GitLab CI/CD: GitLab CI is a service included in GitLab to build and test the software each time the repository is updated. GitLab also contains GitLab CD, which takes care of the continuous deployment, after the integration with GitLab CI is completed.

  • Travis CI: It is a free cloud platform for public repositories on GitHub and BitBucket. It offers many automated continuous integration options, which eliminate the need for a dedicated server, allowing testing in different environments.

Contact us

If your organization is interested in implementing modern DevOps practices to deliver software faster with expert CI/CD processes, we invite you to contact us.

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