If this is the first blog that you’ve stumbled across in our DevOps and SDLC series, then where have you been? We’re so happy to welcome you and share some of our experiences within the world of software development. Each month, we share a new blog about all-things DevOps and SDLC, and you can catch up on the last couple of blog posts (DevOps vs SDLC and 5 Steps to a Successful DevOps Transformation) anytime. In this month’s installment, we consider why CI/CD pipeline development matters…
CI/CD, continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment, are core practices and phases within DevOps. Continuous integration (CI) consists of the application build and first round of tests. Continuous delivery (CD) has further testing such as UI and QA tests, before the application is deployed into a production environment.
Whilst continuous deployment shares the same acronym as continuous delivery and there are some similarities between the two, they also have some differences. Continuous deployment goes one step further than continuous delivery by releasing every change that passes through the development pipeline to customers. This speeds up the feedback loop and is a more automated process.
Phew! So now that we’ve got the definitions out of the way, it’s time for the good stuff. Why does CI/CD pipeline development matter?
Automation Is The Name of The Game
CI/CD pipeline development introduces more automation into software development, as these pipelines are not continuous without automation. And greater automation frees up precious time and reduces project costs.
In CI/CD, a pipeline is triggered automatically. This can happen when a commit/push is created within your chosen source code management system (SCM) for example, or through pull requests that are created each time a developer has finished working on a user story. Teams subsequently integrate their work at much faster rates, such as daily or hourly, whilst the continuous testing and incremental development prevents problems when it comes to merging these changes.
Effective pipeline development means that developers have a deployment build artifact at the ready, which has already passed a standard test process. Teams utilize code that is automatically built, tested, and prepared for production. Testing costs are also drastically reduced as CI/CD servers have the capacity to run hundreds of tests in seconds. This automation achieves a software-defined life cycle and makes software delivery much more efficient.
Increase Developer Productivity
Greater automation plus improved processes equals increased developer productivity. Within CI/CD, developers are alerted as soon as something goes wrong with the build. This means that they can fix any issues straight away before moving onto another task, resulting in less context switching and a quicker resolution.
Not only will your developers be more productive within the SDLC, but they will also have more time to spend on improving the overall process. CI/CD pipelines allow developers to spend less time on testing, integrating, and fixing, and more time on other activities. Your QA teams, for example, will be able to spend less time testing and more time improving the overall quality culture. Increased time spent on activities like this will have a huge impact on your overall business culture and DevOps efforts.
Not to mention that greater developer productivity also ultimately increases your velocity!
Improve Code Quality
The beauty of CI/CD is that it keeps the cost of projects down and developer productivity up whilst enhancing the overall quality of your products. It’s a true triple threat. Continuous testing means that small problems are detected early, resulting in a higher code quality at the end of the cycle.
Deploying and releasing an application can both be stress-inducing tasks. CI/CD makes these processes less risky and boosts your confidence when it comes to release day. You can sleep easily at night knowing that rigorous testing has taken place throughout the software development life cycle and that IF (and that’s a big “if”) anything does go wrong, then the changes are in small batches so rectifying any issues won’t cause a major disaster.
Smaller releases reduce pressure in the overall process, meaning that iterations can happen faster. This leads us nicely onto our final reason why CI/CD pipeline development matters…
Deliver Updates to Customers Faster
All of the previously mentioned reasons why CI/CD pipeline development matters (automation, increased developer productivity, and improved code quality) all result in one thing… Customers having access to updates faster.
Effective CI/CD pipelines have the ability to accelerate agile development, with changes reaching the end customer more frequently. This allows customer experiences to be improved more often rather than monthly, quarterly, or yearly. It also gives customers the spotlight and places them right in the center of software development, as they have the opportunity to provide feedback for further changes more quickly. Thereby giving you an edge over your competitors.
By automating the processes of building, testing, and deploying software, CI/CD pipelines bridge the gap between development and operations teams. High-functioning CI/CD pipelines, therefore, hold the key to a successful and modern DevOps environment.
In order to reap the benefits of effective CI/CD pipeline development, you need to ensure that you have all of the necessary measures in place. For example, CI requires automated tests to be written for every new feature and developers to merge changes on a regular basis. Continuous delivery needs a solid integration process and a test suite that covers a good proportion of your codebase. Whilst a successful continuous deployment requires an established testing culture and effective documentation process to keep up with the rate of change.
At Snapbytes, we assist our customers by assessing their current SDLC maturity, planning the DevOps roadmap, and guiding them through this journey. We’re experts in DevOps, CI/CD, Atlassian, and custom development solutions. To find out how you and your business can benefit from DevOps practices and principles, please get in touch.