Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery concepts are becoming the gold standard for software development. This is especially true for web applications and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models. Software development companies are increasingly choosing CI/CD tools to automate development processes. However, there are many tools and choosing the right one can be a difficult task. Read on to learn how the CI/CD process works and how to choose the right tool for your project.
Continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) are a set of principles and practices that streamline application development. A strong CI/CD pipeline delivers code changes reliably and frequently.
Continuous integration (CI)
The goal of continuous integration is to build, package and test applications in a consistent and automated way. It helps developers commit code to a central repository at scheduled times. The automated tool verifies the code, resulting in better collaboration and software quality.
Continuous delivery (CD)
CS is a software development approach that involves producing the software in short cycles. A CD tool automates the delivery of applications to an infrastructure environment. This tool automates testing besides standard unit tests.
Secure continuous integration and delivery mandates the use of continuous testing. To do this, you need to use a set of automated tests, each measuring regression and performance. A CI/CD model perform tests across the entire CI/CD pipeline.
In the delivery pipeline, every piece of software goes through several stages from inception to release. The stages involve building, testing and deploying the software. CI integrates these stages, thus forming a continuous loop; and the deployment pipeline helps improve the quality of the software produced.
Implementing a CI/CD model can effectively improve your organization’s return-on-investment (ROI). Here are some of the benefits of continuous integration:
- Faster development—deployments run in continuous cycles, allowing you to fix flaws in real-time. As a result, you can have the product ready in a shorter time. Continuous delivery automates software deployment into production. Hence, the risk of delayed deployments is minimal.
- Faster time-to-market—a corollary of the last point is that products get quicker to market. Your can have a competitive advantage by delivering early. This can also allow you to catch market trends before your competitors.
- Better code—receiving continuous feedback can help developers refine their skills. A common repository creates a shared pool of knowledge, improving collaboration. A CI automated tool saves time on fixes, and reduces the chances of human errors.
Building an efficient CI/CD pipeline is not an easy feat. Choosing the right tools can make it easier. Here are some questions and considerations to help you find the right tool for you:
- Assess your development goals—what do you want the tool to achieve?
- Assess your application requirements—what application is needed for your project. Go over the pipeline and see which processes require automation. Not every workflow should be automated.
- Check compatibility—consider the tool’s compatibility with your application language. For example, you can use cucumber.io for testing, if you build your applications in Ruby.
- Beware of too much automation—the same applies when testing applications. You should evaluate every story to check if it requires a unit test. Optimize the tests to run at critical stages in the pipeline. Otherwise, you risk stalling the process instead of streamlining it.
- Hosting requirements—check the company’s policy on hosting and data storage. You should decide if you are going to self-host or use cloud-based solutions. On-premises solutions often require a team for infrastructure maintenance, but allows for flexibility in customization. Cloud solutions are easier to implement; the platform takes care of the CI/CD tools maintenance, infrastructure, and security.
Development teams look for CD/CD tools to streamline the building, testing, and deployment process. A great tool should be easy to install and use. There are so many options that the task can feel overwhelming. For your convenience, here’s a list of recommended features for CI/CD tools:
- Pipeline as code—allow Jenkins users to define job processes in the pipeline with code.
- Supports containerization—for application that run Docker and Kubernetes.
- Easy setup—you would want the tools to be ready to run within minutes. This principle is true for any IT software you introduce into your workflow.
- Scalability—allowing you to scale up or down according to your workload.
- Integration with cloud platforms—such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. A tool that integrates easily can speed up the upload time of the software to the cloud.
- Compliance with regulations—check if the CI/CD tool meets the security and regulatory requirements for your industry.
- Customization—can you add features and/or create your own resources?
- A strong support system—a good customer support service is a must for any tool. Users can get support from comprehensive and updated documentation. An active community, which shares knowledge and best practices, is also a good sign.
Implementing continuous integration and continuous delivery effectively streamlines software development. Different CI/CD tools can apply to different use cases. To find the right tool for your organization, you should start by defining your objectives and requirements. Then, by applying the tips mentioned above, you can choose the best fit for your project.