An Introduction to CI/CD Implementation in Software Development

June 7, 2022

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What is CI/CD?

Code does not exist in isolation. Our software services should be helpful, understandable, and shareable. As a result, the software distribution industry is all about getting our stuff to users and customers. Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) integrate enterprises to regularly release software updates to customers of all types.

One of the biggest problems for software firms in today’s ever-changing marketplace is reacting fast to market and consumer needs. And the CI/CD technique emerged as the key to solving such a problem.

CI/CD adds continuous monitoring and automation across the lifecycle of the software, from the integration and testing stages to the delivery and deployment stages. These systems are called CI/CD pipeline. The development and operations teams work together on these systems using a site reliability engineering strategy or a DevOps.

What is Continuous Integration?

Software integration was initially incorporated as one of the main techniques of Extreme Programming by Gary Booch. Software integration is not required for stable projects but it is often needed for projects that change. After all, delaying integration might lead to integration issues that take too long to resolve, causing project delays.

Continuous Integration (CI) aids in the integration of software components. Integration should be done regularly, preferably hourly or daily. Before executing code to the version control repository, developers create, implement, and test programs on their workstations. A series of events is set in action once modifications to the storage are made.

The following tasks are often included in a CI pipeline:

  • Changes to the source code repository should be detected (new commits appear)

  • Examination of the source code

  • Build

  • All unit tests should be run.

  • All integration tests should be completed.

  • Produce artefacts that can be deployed

  • Status Report

If one of the above steps doesn’t work, try the following:

  • Depending on the harshness of the error and the settings, integration may be halted or resumed.

  • The team receives results through email or chat.

  • The team resolves the issues and commits once again.

  • Repetition of tasks

What is Continuous Delivery?

Where Continuous Integration finishes, Continuous Delivery (CD) begins. CD sends all code changes in a build to the testing or staging environment, while CI is the method of automatically building and testing.

When required, CD allows you to release builds to the production environment. CD effectively lowers time to market by enabling the team to deploy at discretion.

The CD process involves automated system testing, unit testing (including API and load testing), and integration testing before delivering software to production.

Automated testing at the unit, integration, and system levels is conducted automatically as part of the CI to CD process. Because tests may fail at any level and in any environment, CI/CD must allow developers to get feedback on failures immediately.

Developers may use CI/CD to perform the following, depending on team rules and processes:

Step 1: Developers check to verify whether the current build succeeded before submitting changes. If not, correct any mistakes before making any new modifications.

Step 2: If the current build was successful, restore the configuration to the workstation.

Step 3: Build and test the update locally to verify it doesn’t damage anything. If everything goes well, make new modifications.

Step 4: Let CI finish processing the new modifications.

Step 5: Stop and resolve issues on local workstations if the build fails. Return to Step 3.

Step 6: If the build goes well, go on to the next step.

Difference Between CI And CD

Continuous Integration may help software development teams and methods (CI). For many development teams, creating features is the most challenging job. Many companies are under pressure to provide quick and of high quality.

Writing code, settling disputes, maintaining code, and testing all contribute to long deployment times, less frequent deployments, and high change failure rates when writing the code.

The objective is to utilise CI to automatically incorporate development changes, improving feature development cadence and process.

Continuous Delivery (CD) allows operations teams and processes to operate more efficiently. The objective is to deploy an item into a production environment in a safe and repeatable manner.

Benefits of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI-CD)

  • More minor code changes are easier to understand (since they are more atomic) and have fewer unexpected repercussions.

  • More minor, more focused modifications increase testability. These small adjustments allow for more precise positive and negative testing.

  • With a quicker release rate, the time it takes to discover and remedy manufacturing escapes is reduced.

  • Because problems are often corrected before additional feature demands develop, the backlog of non-critical bugs is smaller.

  • The product improves quickly as new features are added and feature adjustments are implemented rapidly.

  • Upgrades are less disruptive since they bring fewer units of change.

  • The product feature velocity of CI-CD products is high. The increased speed reduces the amount of time spent researching and repairing issues.

  • New production features may be introduced in a targeted and seamless manner using feature toggles and blue-green deployments.

  • During non-critical (regional) hours, you may make necessary modifications. Including a non-critical hour modification reduces the possible effect of a deployment failure.

  • With targeted releases, release cycles are shorter, and fewer features that aren’t ready for release are blocked.

CI/CD Pipeline & Workflows

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery platforms establish a CI/CD pipeline, a software delivery process. The CI/CD pipeline’s complexity and phrases vary based on the development needs.

Setting up a CI/CD pipeline correctly is critical to reaping all of the benefits of CI/CD. One channel may use a multi-stage deployment technique to distribute software as containers to a multi-cloud Kubernetes cluster. At the same time, another would only create, test, and deploy the application as a serverless service.

CI/CD Implementation

There are many steps to CI/CD implementation. It may be accomplished using DevOps or SRE (Site Reliability Engineering). The method is mainly used throughout the integration and testing phases and the delivery and deployment phases.

A) Source Stage

A source code repository is established with the help of CI, as we all know. The related pipeline is alerted if the code is changed or a new code is created. Any errors, such as automatic scheduling or a user beginning a process, or results from other pipelines, are reported in this manner.

B) Build Stage

The program is compiled in this stage by bringing the codes and dependencies together. It aids in the creation of a product that can be run. Furthermore, the end-users get the runnable product or instance.

A modest but additional effort, namely compilation, is required when the instance is created in Java, C/C++, or GO. However, if the product is written in Ruby, Python, or JavaScript, such compilations are unnecessary.

C) Testing Stage

The testing step is the most important of all. Automated testing is used to confirm the product’s behaviour and the accuracy of the codes that have been applied. It turns into a safety net that prevents repeatable issues from reaching the end-user.

The testing length is determined by the project type and the abilities necessary to verify the product.

D) Deployment Stage

After passing all of the qualification and production tests, the instance is ready to be deployed on the product. The deployment of the version might have various tiers depending on the project type.

It might be a beta or staging version that the product team uses internally. The codes are immediately pushed on the product after the instance is sorted. These pieces work together to deploy a new version of a program in this manner.

How CI and CD Work Together

Today, we’re moving duties and objectives to the left to catch concerns early in the software delivery process. CI and CD collaborate to guarantee that we have the tools and visibility to detect and correct errors and possible production failures or events that might be costly to a company.

CI/CD pipelines serve as automated delivery pipelines, simulating the whole software development life cycle (SDLC), which might be challenging to comprehend, enhance, share, and manage otherwise.

CI/CD principles: Best Practice

The concepts for effective production deployments are described in Continuous Delivery practices beyond CI.

Architect the system such that iterative releases are possible.

The tight connection between components should be avoided. Implement metrics that aid in the detection of problems in real-time.

Use test-driven development to ensure that your code is always deployable.

Maintain a robust and healthy automated testing environment. By design, provide monitoring, logging, and fault tolerance.

Iterate in modest increments.

For example, if you are working with feature branches, they should only last a day. Use feature flags when you need additional time to create new features.

The code may be pushed into production-like staging environments by developers.

This assures that when the updated version of the program reaches consumers’ hands, it will function properly.

At the touch of a button, anybody may deploy any program version to any environment on demand.

It’s game over if you have to look up how to deploy on a Wiki.

The Advantages of a Streamlined CI/CD Process

Organisations and cross-functional software delivery teams benefit from optimised methods for developing CI/CD pipelines. What are the advantages of CI/CD? Here are a few examples we discovered via survey results and conversations with CI/CD platform users:

  • Developer productivity has increased.

  • Increased time and resources to develop the code and the team

  • Contributors’ input, cooperation, and quality skills have improved.

  • Testers find fewer software faults and issues.

  • Continuous testing and automated integration tests have made significant advancements in testing.

  • Changes to the CD pipeline in several cloud environments are mechanical.

  • With Kubernetes and serverless architectures, CI/CD pipelines can be set up quickly and easily.

  • More frequent code deployments with fewer risks and resources

  • New code and apps may be integrated into a CI/CD pipeline in less than a day.

  • The ability to provide the product that people need has improved.

When is CI/CD not feasible?

Continuous Delivery is fantastic; however, it may be incompatible with some projects. Some instances when CD may not be appropriate:

  • Your consumers don’t want their systems to be constantly updated.

  • Regulations restrict software updates. For example, continuously upgrading software in the aerospace, telecom, and medical sectors is not an option.

Even in a CD-averse environment, teams may benefit from the ease of deployment and the ability to keep the system deployable. They may also put CI into practice and gain its full advantages.

CI/CD Tools & Platforms

A team may use CI/CD technologies to automate development, deployment, and testing. Some tools focus on integration (CI) while others focus on growth and deployment (CD), while others focus on continuous testing or similar services.

Jenkins, an open-source automation server, is one of the most well-known CI/CD systems. Jenkins may be used to run anything from a primary Continuous Integration server to a comprehensive CD hub.

Jenkins installation on Red Hat OpenShift

Tekton Pipelines is a Kubernetes-based CI/CD framework that offers an average cloud-native CI/CD experience with containers.

Jenkins installation on Red Hat OpenShift

Other open-source CI/CD solutions to look at besides Jenkins and Tekton Pipelines include:

Spinnaker is a cloud-based CD platform for multi-cloud scenarios.

GoCD is a Continuous Integration and Delivery server that focuses on modelling and visualisation.

Concourse is “an open-source continuous thing-doer”. Screwdriver is a CD-based build platform.

Managed CI/CD tools, available from various vendors, may potentially be of interest to teams. CI/CD solutions are available from all leading cloud providers and CircleCI, Atlassian Bamboo, Travis CI, GitLab, and many more.

In addition, any DevOps tooL can be part of a CI/CD workflow. Configuration automation tools like Puppet, Ansible, and Chef, container runtimes like rkt, cri-o, and Docker, and container orchestration tools like Kubernetes aren’t exactly CI/CD tools. Still, they’ll appear in many CI/CD processes.

Conclusion

CI/CD are two DevOps best practices that address the disconnect between developers and operations. Developers may deploy modifications and new features more often using automation while operations teams have improved overall stability.

About the Author Sandeep Kumar is a Director at RV Technologies. Having an inclination towards software development, Sandeep always ensures to stay on top of the latest development technologies and how to implement them in real-world projects. He is always ready to share his insight with the developers so that they can also leverage the modern-day tech stack and build futuristic digital solutions for clients. Apart from overseeing all the development projects, Sandeep also likes to write down and share his insights with the world to familiarize people with the latest technologies and their potential in our everyday lives.

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