It should come as no surprise that software development teams are working to meet faster release cycle demands from customers. Another demand that software development teams are striving to meet is that for enhanced software quality. In an effort to meet these demands, software development teams have implemented a CI/CD strategy in an effort to streamline the process.

The global market for DevOps software soared $2.9 billion in 2017 and is expected to soar even more to $6.6 billion by 2022. In the past year, over 50% of all organizations have embraced DevOps. This has led Ci/CD to become an integral part of software development. Following CI/CD best practices can lead to accelerated adoption.

CI/CD comprises two related practices. These are continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). Simply put, CI/CD is the process of getting customers the applications they want. Specifically, CI/CD allows for effective application building, application packaging, and application deploying. Thus, the CI/CD process is great for generating revenue. Most organizations use CI/CD to deliver new codes and updates in a fast and safe manner.

What Is a CI/CD Strategy and the CI/CD Pipeline?

Before you can implement CI/CD, you need to know what it is. CI ensures that all components of the software work together. As a result, your development team is able to continuously integrate code into a repository that is single shared and easy to access. As a result, issues of reducing and identifying are prevented earlier in the software development process. CD allows for continuous delivery. Teams are able to ensure that all system changes are releasable using CD.

The CI/CD pipeline is a workflow that developers use to compile, build, and deploy codes in a reliable and efficient way. Simple, the CI/CD pipeline is a process pathway to deploying production-ready units. As a result, the CI/CD pipeline closes the gap between developers and operations through automation, making it easier for the build, test, and deployment phases to occur. The goal is to have a constant software update flow for production, leading to a reduced release cycle.

How Can I Capitalize on the CI/CD Pipeline?

The CI/CD pipeline is important because it allows you to establish a streamlined software development project. It enables you to save from having to do a ton of manual development work, which is often error-prone. Moreover, the implementation of a CI/CD pipeline enables test automation, simplified code metrics, and continuous integration. Here’s some tips for capitalizing on it:

  1. Fault isolation is simpler and quicker
  2. Mean TimeTo Resolution (MTTR) is shorter
  3. Smaller code changes are simpler

How Can These Strategies Help Me?

Using CI/CD to design and develop your system ensures that it’s faster to detect and implement fault isolations. Moreover, it is well known that red builds are common in DevOps. Well-tested software, even with automated tooling, will sometimes fail. However, this shouldn’t lead to a slow recovery time. In fact, having a slow recovery time damages the ability of the team to speed up their development cycles. To shorten the MTTR, data must be obtained for troubleshooting problems.

To this end, a CI/CD strategy decreases the time required to restore services by providing build information quickly. Thus, leading to fast feedback loops. However, speed isn’t the primary goal in using robust DevOps practices Metrics, such as MTTR, are related to other quality metrics, such as lead times.

Essentially, you have to match your speed and quality and CI/CD can be used to accelerate development as it increases intelligence into the DevOps process. Delivery consistency is critical in automation because speed without quality isn’t beneficial. Metrics, then, allow for stability optimization but prevent the sacrifice of speed.

Red to Green Builds

You can get your builds from red to green within a shorter time period. The improvement of MTTR allows you to quickly get actionable information. If failed statuses return quickly, it takes less time to transition from a red build to a green build. The adoption of CI/CD practices makes it possible for you to have rapid feedback loops and ensures that fast signals are sent to the developers.

Better Recovery Time

A robust CI/CD strategy allows real-time artifact access, including that of coverage reports and logs from the best suite, providing the best troubleshooting opportunities for developers in a production-like environment. In the report previously cited, from over 30 million workflows, 1.6 million runs occurred per day across over 40,000 organizations and 150,000 projects. In all of these, the minimum recovery time was less than a second, the median recovery time was 17.5 hours, and the maximum recovery time was 30 days.

Meeting the minimum recovery time only occurs when two workflows have simultaneous or nearly simultaneous starts and one fails as the other doesn’t. No other scenario allows for that minimum recovery time period. It must be noted that the maximum MTTR was the cut-off for the dataset in the study, not the actual maximum time. Theoretically, it could be longer.

What’s interesting is that the median recovery time suggests the time between the workday end and workday beginning. This implies that employees don’t address failing signals obtained at the end of the workday until the following workday. The median value of 17.5 hours contradicts the argument that MTTR is much more rapid.

Paying Attention to Metrics

Analyzing the metrics after implementing a CI/CD Strategy.
DevOps programmer analyzing statistics on the laptop screen.

Engineering metrics should cover all workflows for all branches, not just default branches on the primary applications. For example, the median recovery time is likely not applicable to the recovery time on the default branch of the primary application. Based on the data in the study, over 30% of all project branches did not fail over a 90-day period. This means that MTTR is instantaneous in these situations, meaning since they never failed, there was never any need for them to recover.

Moreover, 50% of the recovery, in any case, occurred in less than an hour and 25% of the recovery occurred in less than 15 minutes. It was also seen that 50% and 75%, respectively, recover after trying once and twice, respectively. The top 10% spent under 10 minutes doing build repairs and returning them, which supports time-to-restore metrics. Finally, there was a frequency gap between 3 hours and 17.5 hours. As a result, it can be assumed that if recovery doesn’t occur in less than 3 hours, it won’t occur until the next day.

What Will a CI/CD Strategy Do for Me?

CI/CD is important because it’ll let you provide software that’s higher-quality at a more frequent and predictable rate. In terms of software development, CI is ubiquitous, making it unsurprising that it is a key practice in DevOps. Although becoming more popular, CD isn’t as popular as CI. CD involves static code analysis (SCA) on CI and static analysis security testing (SAST) on CI.

The combination of the two elements leads to the pipeline that goes on to extend automation to all parts of the software building process (functional testing, integration testing, performance testing, and security testing) — all of which leads to deployment and configuration management.

In some arguments, if you’re not engaging in CD, you aren’t engaging in good DevOps. Traditionally, IT becomes involved after deployment. Despite this, CD pipeline automation isn’t the norm because adoption is difficult. Typically, the adoption of the CI/CD pipeline involves first adopting CI, then engaging in CD. This process is based on the maturity of the DevOps team.

Here’s something you should know though: the DevOps transformation isn’t instantaneous, nor does it ever end. You’ll have to engage in continually improving your CI/CD pipeline. This means you’ll have to adopt new best practices all the time because the IT field is constantly growing and becoming better at software delivery.

To some, the CI/CD pipeline is often called continuous everything, which means that once your CI/CD pipeline is in place, you’ll have continuous automation. This leads to the shift left from engaging in detection to the prevention of problems. As a result, you’re testing earlier and creating shorter test cycle times, even as your code quality stays high. This gives you better software that delivers faster and gives you a shorter feedback loop.

Learn More About Implementing a  CI/CD Strategy

As you can see, the CI/CD pipeline is an important part of a strong DevOps team. It will make it easier for you to roll out software and address issues in a faster way, leading to better quality. Moreover, by adopting a CI/CD pipeline, you’ll find that you’ve got more opportunities to meet your objectives in a more streamlined way, leading to better outcomes.

It’s noted that it takes time to build a CI/CD pipeline, much less get it perfect for your needs. This means that even if you’re not ready to go all the way with a CI/CD pipeline, even a little can help in performance improvement and, if you’re just starting out and finding it’s not perfect, you’re still on the right track. Need to know more about CI/CD? Contact us today. We’ve got answers.

Mike Hernandez