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Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Seamless, high-quality software is developed based on one’s business needs and requirements. However, it is impossible to fill these needs all at once. For this reason, software organizations aim to fulfill the ever-changing goals of businesses, dictated by the current market conditions. It takes a significant amount of time to design, code, build, and test software. Additionally, you need enough time to resolve frequent issues to jumpstart the software in the production environment.

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD, or continuous integration, delivery, and deployment, is an agile philosophy and practice that encourages developers to implement small, but frequent changes to version control repositories. The goal of implementing CI/CD is to automate the process of building, packaging, and testing applications. This allows members of the development team to easily commit code changes which promote collaboration and high-quality software. It also saves a significant amount of time and potential for human errors when pushing code changes to various environments.

Additionally, CI/CD allows for any code changes to quickly be tested for stability then deployed to your production environment. This allows your team to push out new updates to your applications at a faster rate ensuring any bugs are fixed as soon as possible. It also helps when adding new features to an application or for quickly developing a comprehensive set of microservices.

How Does CI/CD Fit Into the SDLC?

Traditionally, software development followed what’s referred to as the Software Development Life Cycle, or SDLC. The framework takes a linear approach to build high-quality software by following six distinct stages. These stages include planning, defining requirements, designing, building, testing, then deployment. However, by following this process exactly, any changes that need to occur after the planning stage can be difficult to take on. Additionally, it does not allow for changes to occur continuously based on the changing needs of the business.

These issues led to an increasing number of software engineers to instead utilize Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment. With these practices, any software developed can be quickly changed as the needs of the business change. While the approach still follows the steps of the SDLC, it utilizes an iterative approach instead of a linear one.

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration (CI) is a set of practices utilized by development teams to monitor code repositories and modify minor changes. This integration helps them incorporate specific changes to modern applications that require developing code in various platforms and tools.

The main objective of CI is to establish consistency in building, packaging, and testing applications. As the process becomes automated, teams can modify the code seamlessly. A consistent integration process leads to improved collaboration across teams, improving overall software quality.

You can use CI tools or servers to check for specific changes to the branches by building and running tests. There is a wide range of CI tools available, but here are among the most popular tools available today:

  • Jenkins CI

  • Circle CI

  • Gitlab CI

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery automates the process of delivering applications to the various infrastructure environments your team uses. This automation ensures all code changes are pushed to the appropriate environments to reduce the potential for errors and increase productivity.

Continuous Delivery refers to the development process’s portion when the steps get streamlined to push quick and more efficient delivery to production. It streamlines this process by automating the process of delivering applications to the various infrastructure environments your team uses.

When DevOps produce software in short cycles, it ensures that software can be released at any time. Ultimately, CD’s primary goal is to build, test, and deliver software quickly and seamlessly to all infrastructure environments your team uses.

In our world, you need to deliver your services and information promptly, without fail. The best way to do that is by using a system that features a continuous and streamlined delivery.

Countless Continuous Delivery tools are available today. These tools focus on particular processes of CD. However, all CD tools are composed of a delivery pipeline that streamlines continuous delivery. The most popular CD tools include:

  • Gitlab CD

  • Maven

  • Microsoft Azure Pipelines

Continuous Deployment

Continuous Deployment allows developers to snake specific changes that are accurate in a short amount of time. It offers automated testing to validate particular changes made in the code. When changes are applied, code is deployed to the production environment right then and there.

Proper testing and validation are crucial during the development process. For this reason, DevOps makes use of Continuous Deployment to minimize errors and streamline the process. Some teams even use the hybrid of Continuous deployment and delivery. It allows them to automate the deployment to a test server while making necessary modifications then immediately deploy the code changes to the production environment. This ensures every new update you release for your applications is correct and stable effectively eliminating unexpected errors that occur before deployment.

With the wide range of continuous deployment tools available on the market today, it can be difficult figuring out which tool will be best for your needs. So, here are the most popular continuous deployment tools available today:

  • Octopus

  • Concourse

  • Go CD

Why Should You Implement CI/CD?

Implementing CI/CD helps you and your development team produce and deploy higher-quality code at a faster rate. It automates the portions of code development and deployment that simply consume a developer’s time without needing the developer’s expertise. This helps to reduce the potential for human errors and saves valuable time for your developers all while enhancing the quality of the code.

Automate Changes Throughout Multiple Environments

One of the major benefits of implementing CI/CD is the way it automates the process of pushing code changes to all of your environments. In the delivery stage, continuous delivery automatically pushed code changes to all of your infrastructure environments to enable the building, testing, and deployment of new code changes. Continuous deployment then automatically pushes these code changes to your production environment then tests the code to ensure all changes are correct and stable. This ensures every code change your release is stable and gets released as soon as possible.

Enable More Frequent Code Deployments

Another way CI/CD helps improve your development process is by enabling more frequent code deployments. By automating the deployment of code changes, your team can quickly and efficiently make small changes then fully test and deploy those changes. This promotes collaboration amongst your team as it helps avoid the issue of multiple members of your team editing the same code which requires all code to be merged. When this issue occurs, it increases the chance of errors in the code lowering the overall quality of your code. With frequent code deployments, the chance of this occurring significantly decreases.

There are many methods for deploying code into an environment. Depending on your use case one may fit better than another. Whatever method of deployment you choose to use, guarantee there is always a rollback system, in situations when things do not go as planned.

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