Agile and DevOps developed out of the need to iterate with flexibility, responsiveness, and speed. Within DevOps, continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD), and continuous deployment (CD) has become a fundamental structure upon which the DevOps team create, test, and launch software. Therefore, the CI/CD pipeline provides a cycle where various functions and roles, including security and marketing, are integral to collaboration and review.
Additionally, while Agile emphasizes process and iterative change to achieve accelerated delivery; DevOps reinforces culture, mindset, and responsiveness. CI/CD concentrates further on automating testing and other function to create, test, and deploy better software faster.
Software development teams can maximize the value of Agile and DevOps by adopting the pipeline, which has now become fundamental for businesses that want to integrate innovation and quality throughout the SDLC.
CI versus CD
At a high level, continuous integration can be viewed as the first set of phases in SDLC, and continuous delivery/deployment as the second set of phases. Within each set of phases, there are CI/CD cycles. CI is more about preparing, building, and testing code for release, and CD focuses on the physical release and deployment of that code.
The key to the pipeline is that developers use a central or shared code repository where they regularly merge code changes. Automated builds and tests run on the code, creating tighter and more consistent releases.
Speed and quality are achieved by ensuring that changes or new code from one developer tests well for quality and can be integrated into the whole.
The difference between the two is that continuous integration brings together all code commits into a single codebase. That code is integrated regularly with the main branch where it is tested. Then, continuous delivery pulls the code through the pipeline of building and testing. Lastly, continuous deployment pushes the codebase directly into the production environment. Through automated CI/CD testing and deployment tools, this process leads to higher-quality and faster, smoother releases and less costly rework.
Ultimately, the goal of the CI/CD approach is always to have code in a deployable state, enabling go-live updates with little notice and few issues.
The CI/CD Pipeline Delivers Greater Value to DevOps
CI and CD differ in their roles within the broader DevOps approach. However, they work together to create a pipeline and keep code at-the-ready. When CI/CD is the foundation for DevOps practice, the value of each becomes clear, as outlined below.
Continuous Integration Value
- Focuses on automatically building and testing code
- Automates the entire software release process to production
- Fewer software bugs are sent into production
- Automated tests capture regressions earlier
- Building the final release is easier
- Integration issues are solved earlier
- Context switching is lessened
- Break/fix cycles happen faster
- Testing costs are much less
- QA spends less time testing and can focus more on QI
- Multiple developers can work on the same project simultaneously
Continuous Delivery/Deployment Value
- Far less time is needed to prepare a release
- Release code more often
- Accelerate feedback from customers
- Faster iterations
- Deployments are triggered automatically for every change
- Less risky and stressful releases
- Small batches of code make issues easier to fix
- Customers experience continuous improvements
The CI/CD pipeline provides much greater value to the DevOps team and the enterprise because of its automated and cyclical nature. The benefits of many collaborators regularly developing, testing, and committing code enables faster feedback, updates, and releases. When done well, CI/CD provides a foundation that organizations rely on as a competitive market advantage.
CI/CD Vision for DevOps
The ultimate goal of continuous integration, delivery, and deployment is to accelerate the feedback and quality improvement loop and release higher-quality code on faster cycles. Through the right amount of automation, DevOps teams can streamline their SDLC without sacrificing product quality.
The CI/CD approach can also improve pipeline performance, increase time-to-release, encouraging improved collaboration, automating repetitive tasks, and providing timely resources to developers. DevOps teams can facilitate strong, stable, high-quality code with limited disruption or last-minute scrambling. With CI/CD process and tools practice, the production pipeline will run more smoothly.
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