CI/CD process is the most effective for timely and precise responses in software development, adapting to changes and meeting new market demands.
Software development is rather effective when it involves team work than isolated coding. Continuous Integration (CI) has helped agile teams to regularly update the coding repository with contributions from all the members correcting the minor bugs at an early stage. This enables the teams to fix bugs at the early development cycle instead of waiting till the end of the project cycle to identify bugs as testing ensues.
The traditional practice of each member working on a separate part of an application is out of the window allowing all intellects to contribute and make it a holistic code with minimal or almost no bugs. This merger happens several times through a day resulting in continuous and regular testing and validation, thus automating the development process. Almost 40% of the developers are well on their way to automate the processes.
Continuous Delivery (CD) follows CI as a natural step to update the software as and when the integrated codes have cleared testing process. This minimizes the risks associated with releasing new features and fixing older bugs by allowing every small change reaching the users as soon as it is done. Without this, releasing updates becomes a painfully long process with chances of more risks. With CD, any issue can be dissolved quickly by simply releasing an update or a bug fix immediately.
Here are some of the ways in which CI/CD boost the software development cycle
1. Quicker release cycles
The basic purpose of implementing CI/CD is to release updates as and when the codes are ready. This lets new features into production quicker and swift release cycles reach the customers at shorter intervals. Such smaller introduction of upgrades is rarely disruptive and one can have target releases. The features not ready can be conveniently blocked and reserved for the next update. The quality and the impact of the code can be identified soon. 82% of developers have reported that they are releasing the codes more quickly than ever.
2. Risk alleviation
With CI/CD in place, the code changes invite fewer and simpler consequences. When all the code changes are collected in the main repository, the line of codes fits perfectly into it without requiring many changes. This alleviates the bugs that end up in production at the end, essentially filtering the filth at every stage before it reaches production. Lesser or nil defect backlogs means newer defects can be cleared immediately. This also makes the testing process easier, reducing the effort going into the manual testing process.
3. Reduced costs
“The earlier you catch defects, the cheaper they are to fix”
David Farley in Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test and Deployment Automation.
Fixed costs associated with building and testing codes are reduced at a massive level as testing happens on parallel platforms. The time and machines used for testing are reduced, thereby reducing the cost involved in the process. Automated processes like CI/CD also reduce the costs required for maintaining one’s own test infrastructure. The upfront investment required is only for the tools to implement CI/CD and training the employees after integrating with the existing processes, if required.
4. Instant feedback
Be it feedback from internal testing or end user feedback, they are instantaneous. This allows the developers to make necessary changes or understand the impact of their codes as soon as they reach the users. This helps design a road map that decides the direction of further changes and introduction of new features. As the codes are run through testing, the leakages are identified instantly and this transparency helps the teams avoid them in the future. Active involvement of end users makes the feedback more valuable, leading to better usability improvements in the future.
5. Uncompromised quality on products
A product is not only a result of mechanical processes like building and testing. While they form a crucial component for its success, aspects like team communication, confidence, etc., play a major role in how the employees approach a project. Sharing codes, witnessing a transparent process increase the trust within a team and improves communication among themselves. Detecting potential issues on time and witnessing the fruitful results almost immediately boosts their confidence. 66% of employers have reported better job satisfaction using this method. Everything mentioned above complements each other resulting in a product whose quality is not compromised.
Although CI/CD is more effective than other processes, timely response to the problems is crucial as the final product is expected to be precise. When this is achieved, all the above-mentioned benefits are fulfilled. This also gives the team some flexibility to adapt to the market changes, even if they are rapid. A team with CI/CD in place has better advantage at meeting new market demands and releasing them before others.
Firms should identify the product needs and go for this process if they require faster deployments. Tools like Jenkins, Travis CI, TeamCity, Circle CI are some of the popular tools used.