How To Take Advantage Of CI And CD.

In simple words, CI/CD is about having simple deployments and keeping the system in a deployable state.  In this reading, we will show you how to take advantage of CI and CD by defining some key concepts and help you realize whether it is for you.

What is CI/CD?

Let’s start by defining what CI/CD is. On the first hand, CI (Continuous Integration) is about automating the construction and testing of code changes pushed to version control. On the other hand, CD (Continuous Delivery) refers to automating and simplifying all the processes leading up to deployment. In short, CI/CD means that a change to your code can go live within minutes from writing it, and without downtime.

The CI/CD Release Pipeline

The release pipeline indicates the correct order of activities done for CI/CD. Firstly, CI uses automated testing to check that the application does not break with new commits. Next, CD takes place following the builds and testing in CI by automating the release of code to a repository. Besides CI and CD, there is often an intermediate stage called Continuous Deployment. The purpose of this step is to have a codebase that is always ready for deployment.

DevOps and CI/CD

The DevOps model defines a separation between the team that builds the product and the one that maintains it.  The goal of DevOps is to incorporate and take advantage of CI and CD through the entire software development cycle. As a result, by automating all release activities, DevOps can guarantee high-quality deliverables throughout each stage of the release pipeline.

A Quick Quiz

It is crucial to understand that CI/CD demands a change of mindset and that there may be some cases where CI/CD doesn’t work. Subsequently, here is a quick CI/CD quiz you have to take to diagnose your current status. Take some time and try to answer with all honesty.

  • Having high elapsed time to release to production
  • Your development team is okay with long release cycles
  • Experiencing a constant introduction of code defects between versioning branches
  • Having to find a specific timeframe to complete the release cycle
  • Your devs don’t trust what’s in your code branches

Got more than two affirmative answers? Then undoubtedly, you could start to take advantage of CD and CI.

Minimal steps to implement CI/CD

These are seven minimal steps to achieve CI/CD:

  1. Manage your trunk to deploy at any time.  Create a culture where managing your code trunk allows deployment at any time. Don’t enable versions with code experiments or bugs.
  2. Treat every test failure as a bug. Every failure must be reviewed and fixed despite its nature, meaning you cannot close it until you fix it.
  3. Enhance your test suite. Make sure your developers write test code as though they would write production code. Your test scripts have to be reliable.
  4. Discontinue old branches. You must be able to detect issues right away instead of after merging months later.
  5. Optimize the feedback loop. Research and choose a tool that allows you to separate the CI pipeline in stages and run tests in parallel.
  6. Choose the infrastructure. Make sure to define your technology stack and automated release tools.
  7. Automate the deployment. All tasks together have to be in the CI/CD pipeline. Start by transitioning from manual to automated in stages.

Major CI/CD milestones

Above all, check these major milestones to assess whether you are on your way to achieving CI/CD:

  • Identify if you have a clear DevOps separation to define specific release activities.
  • Get a tool that helps you quickly test new code in production-like environments.
  • Have fast, reliable, and frequent codebase integrations.
  • Make it a push-button release operation via automated deployment.

Moreover, CI/CD can yield not only technical benefits but also a couple of perks worth mentioning:

  • Communication. Your team can be on the same page at all times.
  • Trust. CI/CD eliminates doubt due to the overall streamlined build and deployment process.
  • Honesty. Developers keep honest about the status of their code regardless of the different criteria.

In conclusion, we’ve reviewed the major CI/CD concepts and guided you through being aware if you need it, or are using it to some extent. To sum up, achieving these milestones above can make you confident you are on the right track.

Mike Hernandez
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