The key to moving faster in software design and development is a collection of operating principles and practices known as CI/CD, which combines continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). CI/CD enables software development teams to deliver code changes more frequently and reliably, allowing them to respond to the needs of the business and its customers more quickly. For many development organizations, CI/CD has become a standard strategy.
In this blog, we are covering some tips for implementing and maintaining a CI/CD strategy. But before that let’s understand the importance of CI/CD for businesses.
How CI/CD Impacts Software Development?
Continuous integration is a coding philosophy and set of practices that encourage development teams to make small changes and check-in code to version control repositories regularly. Given that most applications today require teams to develop code across multiple platforms and tools, teams require a method to integrate and validate these changes.
Continuous delivery comes after continuous integration and automates application delivery to specific infrastructure environments. Most development teams today work in multiple environments, including testing environments, in addition to production. Continuous delivery ensures that code changes are automatically pushed to these various environments.
According to Kenefick, former vice president, and analyst at Gartner, recent “Agile in the Enterprise” surveys, more teams are doing agile development, and agile teams have significantly higher implementation rates for continuous integration, automated acceptance testing, and DevOps. More and more organizations are implementing CI/CD to improve the design, development, and delivery of software applications for internal or external use.
Implementing and Maintaining a CI/CD Strategy
1. Understand the business drivers – Planning for future needs
An organization must understand why it needs to implement CI/CD so that the development teams can build the necessary competency to ensure that key objectives are met.
When done correctly, CI/CD can improve developer productivity, delivery framework optimization, operational efficiency, and agile transformation.
Modern CI/CD capabilities use a modular architecture, allowing for ‘plug-and-play’ adoption models and pipeline configurability to support a variety of delivery frameworks. The pipeline implementation needs to be meticulous as the code enables engineering teams to develop advanced functions that meet the current business needs. However, it is also necessary to forecast future requirements.
2. Choosing and implementing the best CI/CD system
The available CI/CD systems can provide tangible value to organizations. Their use indicates how healthy an engineering/product organization is. However, when looking into software that enables CI/CD processes, businesses must conduct adequate research and choose the best option.
When developing, testing, and deploying new features becomes routine, [an] organization’s ability to respond to change improves dramatically.
The stakeholders responsible for the product’s technical direction, longevity, or health need to spend time researching the ecosystem and the solutions available. Have them solicit feedback from the product developers. They will be the primary users of the CI/CD system because they will be dealing with it daily.
The majority of these solutions offer free trials and can be integrated with platforms such as GitHub. Set up integration and observe the results while it automates a build, test, or deployment. When people see that these systems add value to their workflow, they will naturally start shifting more tasks to them.
3. Involve key stakeholders in CI/CD early
It’s a good idea to involve all development project stakeholders as early as possible, as close to the project’s inception as possible.
The main advantage is that all stakeholders participate in project development decisions at each stage of the project. IT operations personnel, for example, will have a say in architectural decisions, allowing developers to work on infrastructure that has been approved by IT.
This should be done for all decisions involving all types of stakeholders so that all major decisions can be made with experts present. This practice significantly reduces the amount of technical debt that accumulates throughout the project life cycle.
4. Combine automated testing with manual approvals
Teams would focus on test-first methodologies that reinforce the creation of automated unit and functional tests. They create sets of automated regression, performance, and security testing. They would also set up automated testing to ensure that environments and orchestration platforms are properly configured.
There is no one set of testing that is more important. We recommend that you combine all the required tests.
It should be combined with other quality practices such as using static analysis tools, ensuring that peer reviews take place via pull requests, and utilizing continuous integration pipelines. Ensure that manual approval steps are in place at critical points in the deployment process. Manual approval procedures keep untested or unapproved code out of production and higher testing environments. This also gives you control over when the code runs in key environments.
5. Track metrics to ensure CI/CD success
By implementing CI/CD, organizations can achieve measurable improvements in development and engineering, and these improvements should be measured and compared over time.
Understand the time and flakiness of your build/test/deploy cycles. Identify potential areas for optimization and improvement. Fast is preferable to slow, but dependability and correctness take precedence over speed. CI/CD processes and tools should be viewed as force multipliers, with benefits such as reduced engineering, testing, and feature time to market.
Software development is extremely complex, and getting it right is difficult. Use the right tools to keep you on track and to meaningfully support your development process. CI/CD is much more than simply automating tasks to eliminate human error. It enables us to get new solutions to users as quickly, efficiently, and affordably as possible.