Enable CI/CD To Boost the Potential of DevOps

This is an article from DZone’s 2022 DevOps Trend Report.

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DevOps is a hot topic that is quickly becoming the way of software development. It aims to promote development speed and reduce costs while increasing productivity and efficiency in your organization. DevOps is powered by automating your entire development, delivery, and operations processes. With continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD), you can do more with less, so it is beneficial to start implementing these concepts into your company as early as possible.

What Is DevOps?

DevOps is a cultural phenomenon used by companies that like to release quality software fast. It is done by automating the entire development and delivery process with the help of techniques and tools. However, it is not a set of tools but a just a broader movement that focuses on how to improve the flow of software by streamlining the processes and mindset.

The idea behind DevOps is to have an end-to-end automated pipeline from Dev (development) to Ops (operations). This way, the software moves quickly and can be tested as it moves through different phases of delivery and deployment. Continuous integration and continuous delivery become an essential part of the DevOps initiative and carry a lot of importance.

DevOps vs. Traditional Software Development

Over many years with traditional software development methodologies, development and operations teams have always been treated as separate entities. They each focused on their own efforts, which often resulted in a lack of communication between the two groups. The DevOps movement solves this particular problem by enriching team collaboration.

There are four major differences between DevOps and traditional software development:

  1. DevOps can be viewed as a natural extension of the Agile movement, focusing on how to break down communication barriers between development and operations.
  2. In the traditional software development lifecycle model, projects move through linear and sequential phases without rapid feedback loops or ongoing iterations, whereas the DevOps approach is more iterative.
  3. The traditional software development approach takes a lot of time to deliver software projects because everybody works on a big chunk of software without proper planning. In contrast, DevOps work is divided into small batches, with each batch delivered quickly and then iterated on rapidly.
  4. The traditional software development approach follows sequential steps that are hard to bypass, like gathering requirements, planning, writing code, testing, deploying to production, etc. But it doesn’t work that way in the DevOps world — testers test the code alongside developers so that things don’t have to be redone when problems arise. This makes for a more streamlined and efficient software development lifecycle.

Introduction to CI/CD

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), as an iterative process, requires developers to have a working build of the application on which they will release new features. It is a system that allows teams to integrate changes quickly without sacrificing quality or safety.

CI/CD is composed of three core tenets: continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous delivery.

CI/CD works by using the principles of automation. When code is committed to the repository, it triggers a pipeline of build tasks that executes the following steps:

  1. Check out the latest version of code from the repository.
  2. Perform compilation and unit tests.
  3. Generate artifacts such as documentation or reports on the build status (whether everything passes).
  4. Start deployment on a staging environment (ie, an identical copy of production).

Why CI/CD?

Continuous integration and continuous delivery can be a blessing to both developers and customers. They allow you to test your code, find bugs, and fix them quickly before your customer has even had the chance to notice. In addition, once you have a working build on which you will release new features, CI/CD allows you to deploy it automatically to a staging environment that is identical to your production environment. This way, you don’t have to rebuild the entire application every time it needs an update.

CI/CD is beneficial for developers because it enables them to work more efficiently and productively. CI/CD tools are of value to the developer because they can automate tasks like testing and deploying, which saves them time. For example, when a new build is ready, they can use CI/CD to automatically deploy that build to a staging environment or their customer’s production environment. This way, tests are already in place before the update is live, so any new bugs will be caught before they make it into the hands of your customers.

CI and CD for Automation

DevOps usually revolves around these simple pillars:

  • CI (continuous integration)
  • CD (continuous delivery)
  • Continuous testing
  • Containerization
  • Continuous monitoring

As discussed above, CI/CD helps you automate releasing software from development to production by breaking down the process into stages. CI is the automated testing of code changes before they are released to production. CD is the automated release of code from development to production environments. Continuous monitoring ensures everything is always running smoothly. Containerization forms an integral part of the DevOps process, as it helps package the software and move it along the pipeline stages, making it easy for developers. It became popular with platforms like Docker that help companies package and ship their applications quickly. Most of the CI/CD tools today work with containerization in mind.

How To Implement CI/CD in Your Organization

Building the Right Mindset

If you aren’t a developer, learning to think like one is just as important as the tools in CI/CD. To be successful with CI/CD, you need to know how to automate and modify your current processes. You also need to be able to work closely with developers. When developing software, an individual or team will have to go through different stages of development, and it’s important to understand them to communicate effectively with the development team. These stages include research and analysis, architecture, design, coding, testing, release, and so on.

Choosing the Right Tools

There are various tools available for CI/CD, but before you decide which one to use, it’s important to understand what your goals are. For example, what parts of your application will you want to integrate? Do you need deployments? And how many people will be working on the code? Once you have an idea of ​​what features you’ll want to implement in CI, it becomes easier to choose which tool is best for your project. In addition to tools, hiring the right set of DevOps people can also help you quickly organize things and make decisions.

Adding CI/CD Into Your Development Process

It’s not enough to just set up CI/CD and forget about it. You also need to make sure you’re using it correctly. For example, there are a number of best practices that can help you increase your efficiency and reduce operational costs:

  • Using pipelines – Developers should create a pipeline that goes from code check-in, through tests, and into production. This will allow developers and testers to collaborate more effectively on the process, as they both know what stage the code is in.
  • Automating release management – The best way to do this is by setting up a series of automated release gates for each environment. This will help ensure that all bugs get caught before being released into your production environment.
  • Monitoring every step of the way – You also want to keep an eye on how long it takes for jobs to run in CI/CD environments so you can optimize the entire process. The longer it takes for something to run, the more expensive it becomes — and the less time your team actually has available for developing new features or fixing bugs.

Can You Use CI and CD Separately?

CI is necessary for any software development project, but CD adds an additional layer to CI in the DevOps automation framework. We often see this confusion about whether to use CI, CD, or both. There are many benefits to using CI/CD together when developing and deploying your software, but sometimes it can be overkill for certain projects. You may just need CI. For example, if you’re working on a small web application with a few developers, there’s no point in spending the time and money required to set up CD. But for big organizations and startups working on big projects, both CI and CD help developers focus better on their jobs.

Conclusion

CI takes the first step toward a successful DevOps approach. CD goes a little further to change software development by deploying software multiple times a day with confidence. Automation is key to any successful CI/CD strategy, but it doesn’t stop there; security is becoming a high priority to keep the software development pipeline clean and to minimize the attack surface. Successful implementation of CI/CD with the right culture, mindset, and people can help you win in this highly complicated DevOps landscape.

This is an article from DZone’s 2022 DevOps Trend Report.

For more:

Read the Report

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