The world of software development is constantly evolving, with companies getting more and faster enhancements and functionality to market. Yet, to remain ahead of the competition, development teams need to optimize their workflow for more efficiency, quality, and reliability.
To do so, development teams implement continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) in order to accelerate and automate the software delivery lifecycle. With CI/CD, the workflow continuously integrates code, which improves processes to benefit the business as a whole.
Hence, we asked professionals in the industry to share their insights on how CI/CD is essential for business.
Why is CI/CD important?
Continuous Integration is a development practice that requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository several times a day. Everything is then checked by an automated build, allowing teams to detect problems early.
Continuous Delivery, on the other hand, is the ability to get changes of all types into production safely and quickly in a sustainable way. This is achieved by ensuring the code is in a deployable state, even when developers are making changes every day.
According to Lee Gardiner, DevOps Lead (TE) at Collinson, reducing time to market in any way shape, or form will always benefit the business. By shifting patterns as close to those attempting to make changes will result in the cheapest form of testing and feedback as part of a CICD pipeline.
Besides, he continues, continuous delivery also results in a more stable platform by ensuring constant, safe to deploy code that should have been run through rigorous testing practices as well as ensuring code security.
Kalyan Nemalikanti, Senior DevOps & Site Reliability Engineer at Malayan Banking Berhad, highlights five ways that CI/CD are important:
- Both the development and the operations team (DevOps) can increasingly focus on their core competencies.
- CI/CD is the best way to promote the agile mindset within the development and operations team.
- Better Code Quality
- The main objective of CI/CD is to reduce the time to market that otherwise used to take years due to broken processes and minimal collaboration between development and operations.
- With continuous integration, delivery, and deployment — the code can be released to the end-users in a timely manner.
Hence, having CI/CD within your business operations is becoming more and more essential as it comes with various benefits for your enterprise in the long term.
For Lee, the main benefits of CI/CD are fewer outages, more up-to-date code, better security, and most importantly a low time to market.
Kalyan points out that CI/CD can help deploy features into production without causing any disruption to other services, while quickly detecting and correcting incidents as and when they occur during the DevOps lifecycle.
Moreover, he adds, it boosts deployment frequency and presents more opportunities to re-evaluate the delivery process, through automation, effective testing, and monitoring procedures.
CI/CD also provides valuable data for continuous improvement around monitoring and metrics.
…. But also challenges
Yet, CI/CD still presents some risks and challenges for companies.
Indeed, Lee highlights that consistency and standardization will always be a challenge, as applications and infrastructure rarely fit into a nice, unified box. Besides, platforms are rarely of the same code type meaning duplication of efforts.
Kaylan points out the main risks that CI/CD entail:
- Initial developer hesitance
- Commit discipline
- End-user experience
- Being too focused on tools & technologies
- Thinking DevOps is anything more than process excellence
How to successfully implement CI/CD?
There are a few things to follow in order to adopt successfully CI/CD into a business.
According to Lee, there are two main steps:
- Standardization: ensure first and foremost your CI flow is universally agreed and accepted, this will allow your CD to follow suit.
- Ownership: ensure the parties involved are improving checks, tests and constantly evolving for new challenges.
He continues by saying that doing less to do more is always a running theme here, especially with CI. Thus, any checks that you can run in parallel will of course lower the feedback loop. After all, computing is cheaper than chairs.
Moreover, he adds that in order to implement CI/CD successfully, everyone in the team should care for and oversee CI/CD. ‘This is a piece that requires a considerate amount of attention, but the rewards will always be worth it.’
Hence, by implementing continuous integration and continuous delivery, companies will be able to see the best benefits of a complete CI/CD pipeline that will drive enhanced business and IT performance.
Should every business adopt CI/CD?
Lee emphasized that he doesn’t envy organizations that haven’t yet adopted Agile, CI/CD, or DevOps. Indeed, according to him, they are at risk to be short-lived, slow to adapt, and fail to keep up with organizations of size moving at the pace of a startup.
Therefore, CI/CD plays a vital part in software building and deployment and is more necessary than ever if organizations want to move forward. They are able to provide various benefits to businesses as well as to stakeholders including product owners, development teams, and end-users, among others.
In the long term, having a CI/CD process will lead to big advantages, such as reducing costs and increasing return on investment. Moreover, it will also allow businesses to invest more time in building better mobile apps with faster time to market.
Special thanks to Lee Gardiner and Kalyan Nemalikanti for their useful insights!