January 29, 2022

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The Role of CI/CD Pipeline in Software Development

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If you want to deliver code more frequently and reliably, you’ve probably already heard about the benefit of CI/CD tools, used exactly for that purpose. The CI/CD Pipeline is one of the modern development practices related to DevOps services. Let’s explore together what it is, the difference between Continuous Integration and Continuous Development, and more importantly, the role of CI/CD for software development.

What Does CI/CD Pipeline Stand For?

Continuous integration and continuous delivery/continuous deployment are abbreviated as CI and CD, respectively. In a nutshell, CI/CD is a contemporary software development methodology wherein incremental code changes are done often and consistently. CI-triggered autonomous build-and-test stages guarantee that code changes submitted into the source are trustworthy.

The CI/CD pipeline creates an Agile workflow for DevOps services by combining multiple processes like integration, testing, delivery, and deployment. It employs test automation to detect possible pitfalls sooner and also to submit code changes to diverse settings. Test automation evaluates nearly every aspect, including performance to API and protection, which is a critical component of pipeline quality management.

Eventually, the ability to automate multiple stages of the CI/CD pipeline results in more reliable, quicker, and higher-quality software, as well as app deployments.

More significantly, you should create a CI/CD pipeline before the development process itself, since your workflow will change extremely with the help of CI/CD tools working in parallel. However, to make it happen, you need to adequately set up the pipeline phases. Now, let’s move on to the phases of the CI/CD Pipeline.

CI/CD Pipeline Phases

While each stage of a CI/CD pipeline may be performed manually, the actual benefit of CI/CD pipelines is achieved via automated processes. A CI/CD pipeline is made up of discrete subgroups of operations which are organized into pipeline phases. Following are some common pipeline phases:

Source

The source contains the initial source code repository and any change in the code triggers CI/CD tools to automatically apply modifications. User-initiated processes, programmed timelines, and the outcomes of other pipelines are other typical triggers. The process begins with a push-request, written manually, which causes the development of Webhooks to run the pipeline.

Build

At this stage complies an app with its source code repository. However, in fact, the build stage is not necessarily used for such languages as Python, JavaScript, and Ruby. Inability to pass the build phase indicates a basic project malfunction, which should be addressed as soon as possible.

Test

The implementation of automated tests to check the validity of code and the functionality of the program is included in the test phase. This stage’s automation facilitates the quality assurance for the running code. Testing eliminates potentially repeatable issues from making their way to the customers. The Merge stage happens here, which is responsible for the finalization of the assessment, needed before the release to the source code repository.

Deploy

This is the last step of the CI/CD pipeline, completed if the previous testing and merging stages occur without conflicts and errors. Deployment means your code goes to the servers, like Azure or AWS to make it functional.

This is only a sample of the steps you could encounter. The custom pipeline can be tailored to your company’s specific needs.

Is There a Difference Between CI and CD?

Continuous Integration (CI) is the process of applying modifications by the developers and assessment of their performance. CI helps to optimize the source, build, and test applications in the most reliable way. CI helps to simplify code changes, giving developers more opportunities to produce changes, and results in better products. For continuous integration, team members verify issues, observe configuration management in real-time, and automate capability and unit tests by executing tiny differences in code or creating extra code. Code cycles and initial bug detection are automated, and functional testing verifies that new code or upgrades do not damage an app. As a matter of fact, the continuous framework approach considers continuous integration to be a precondition.

The automatic transmission of finished code to contexts like testing and development is known as Continuous Delivery (CD). CD enables the delivery of code to various settings in an automatic and consistent manner. It distributes verified code modifications performed during continuous integration to specific environments or code repositories. Development teams in CD employ automation to minimize deployment time, costs, scale applications, and release code.

A further stage after continuous delivery is Continuous Deployment (CD). Each update that passes the automated tests is instantly deployed, increasing the incidence of production deployments. Continuous deployment distributes code updates to end-users after completing a sequence of specified tests, including integration tests that test code in a simulated setting to guarantee code integrity.

Continuous delivery automates the movement of code to production-like environments for extra testing and quality assurance, but automation goes a step further in continuous deployment. Once the code has passed testing, it is automatically deployed to production (no human intervention is required).

Therefore, the difference between CI and CD exists, and can be briefly described as follows: continuous integration is a collection of activities conducted while developers are producing code, whereas continuous delivery and continuous deployment are a set of processes performed after the code has been finished.

Why Do You Need CI/CD?

CI/CD enables enterprises to ship software in a timely and effective manner. CI/CD enables an efficient procedure for bringing products to market quicker than ever before, continually releasing code into production, and assuring a continuous flow of new features and bug fixes using the most efficient delivery mechanism. Now in returning to the main focus of the article, let’s define cases in which CI/CD pipeline causes the greatest benefit.

It Extends Beyond Test Automation.

Quality assurance engineers use automated testing frameworks to write, perform and automate various sorts of tests that inform development teams whether a software build succeeds or fails. They contain functionality tests that are created as a conclusion of each sprint and combined into an application-wide regression test. As you can understand, this doesn’t end on the above-mentioned testing; it goes far beyond that, but rather as a fast and convenient solution of automated processes.

It Automates Modifications To Numerous Environments.

The mechanism that sends apps to delivery environments is known as continuous delivery. Usually, software developers have several development and testing environments in which application updates are tested and reviewed. Additional phases on a more complex CD may include data management, storing data resources, or program and library updating. After deciding on a CI/CD tool, software developers should ensure that all environment parameters are maintained outside of the app. CI/CD tools assist in establishing these variables, hiding them, and configuring them for the target environment at the time of deployment.

It Allows Deploying Code Frequently.

CI/CD pipelines are intended for enterprises who wish to upgrade their apps on a regular basis and demand a dependable delivery method. The production process for distributing code changes is the additional work to organize builds, perform tests, and automate deployments. Once established, it allows a team to concentrate mostly on the process of improving apps rather than the technical specifics of transporting them to computing environments. Therefore, developers may push updates more often now that automation is in place.

It Enables To Get the Continuous Improvement.

The CI/CD pipeline is a never-ending loop of build, test, and deployment. When code is tested, developers may swiftly respond to feedback and upgrade the code. Everyone on the team is capable of changing code and solving fast any issues that could arise. Since this cycle could go on and on, it enables developers to improve the initial code to the most optimized way possible.

It Reduces Time to Deployment.

CI/CD pipelines allow for substantially faster time to market for new product features, which leads to happier customers and less burden on development. The significant improvement in total delivery speed allowed by CI/CD pipelines strengthens an organization’s competitive advantage. Continuous delivery and continuous development teams can use automation to accelerate the development lifecycle as a whole.

Wrapping Up

Our team definitely recommends integrating CI/CD into your software development if it consists of complex subtasks. As you can see, this will definitely simplify, accelerate and make flexible your development workflow. Besides, you’ll get automation, where you’ll be able to transmit the full range of tasks, in order to let your team focus on something more important.

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