What Is CI/CD? Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery Explained

What-Is-CI-CD

CI/CD is a set of practices that allows tech companies to improve their existing products frequently. Some companies take advantage of CI/CD to improve their products as often as multiple times in a single day. The development practices are recognized to be highly effective and lead to meaningful development.

1. What Is CI/CD?

CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). The practices require developers to merge all changes made to code continually. All code merges are then combined to create an automatic code build. The subsequent build is then used for test sequencing. This method allows developers to retrieve results for their testing within a matter of minutes and cuts down on testing time drastically.

Continuous Integration

The goal of Continuous Integration is to produce artifacts that can be deployed quickly. Automated tests are used to verify if artifacts within code are viable for deployment. If any errors are found, they are sent back for fixes.

Continuous Delivery

All code changes are deployed as soon as they are built. It allows the developers to break down development into a step-by-step process. Developers move code from the source repository and directly into the production stage using automation techniques. This practice is known as Continuous Delivery.

The goal of CI/CD is to deter error-prone development and keep development simple. CI/CD practices are ideal for small and large development teams alike. It has been proven effective at reducing the number of major bugs in the development phase. Even if bugs are found, they can be fixed easily thanks to the focused development practices.

2. CI/CD Tools

Here are some of the popular CI/CD tools that are used by developers engaging in CI/CD practices.

GitLab CI

Currently licensed by MIT, it is one of the newer entrants in the world of CI/CD development. It has managed to achieve the top spot very quickly thanks to the vast amount of automation it offers. It makes use of YAML files to describe an entire development of CI/CD pipeline. Portfolio and application management is simplified using the tool, which is why it is preferred by developers across the world.

GoCD

Thoughtworks introduced GoCD in a bid to bring more functionality and efficiency to the world of CI/CD development. The one big differentiator that GoCD holds is the Value Stream Map. The feature allows pipelines to be chained and creates future pipelines. The goal of GoCD is to allow independent development, and let multiple development teams work on the same project with ease. Finding bottlenecks in the development process is very easy, and modules can be reorganized for efficiency.

Travis CI

Travis CI is one of the first SaaS CI systems. The pipelines can be stored as YAML along with an application’s source code. GitHub integration is also something that makes development very streamlined. There is a separate version of Travis CI that can be hosted with a large number of modular components. It is one of the best options if you are looking for open-source projects.

Jenkins

Jenkins is yet another project licensed by MIT. It is one of the most standard options that CI/CD adopters go for. It is designed to fix any complex configuration issues, and just like other CI/CD tools, Jenkins makes use of YAML files. Native pipeline functionality is also available, and it is very easy to navigate. Complex development processes are simplified thanks to the Cloud Native Jenkins functionality. It is one of the most innovative CI/CD tools in existence and widely used by developers.

Concourse CI

Licensed by Apache 2.0, Concourse is one of the most-used tools. Since its beta release, it has seen a large number of takers. It makes use of container-based development to make life easier for developers. The entire system makes use of microservices to allow for local development. You need a connection to the main Concourse server for local development, and you will be able to run all your builds just like a real pipeline would allow you to. Running failed builds is also possible from local systems, and you can test specific fixes.

Spinnaker

Spinnaker is a popular CI/CD tool that was used in popular applications like Netflix. It can integrate itself with other major tools like Jenkins and Travis. Spinnaker seeks to ease deployment timelines and reduce the amount of time spent on testing applications. You can also integrate the tool with industry-standard monitoring tools like Datadog and Prometheus. Spinnaker makes CI/CD a simplified process by preventing deployments from occurring during critical times during an application’s life cycle.

Screwdriver

BSD is the licenser for Screwdriver, and it is one of the most impressive CI/CD tools because it makes use of microservices. Tools like Docker, Kubernetes, and Nomad work with Screwdriver to ease development, deployment, and testing.
 
The tool makes use of YAML for creating pipeline descriptions. It leads to a reduction in boilerplate configurations for individual pipelines. Advanced workflow strategies can be deployed using the tool, and jobs can be guaranteed to run before subsequent jobs are worked on. Logical operators can be manually deployed for faster development times.

3. What Are The Differences Between Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment?

Below is a quick overview that will help you understand the difference between CI and CD (continuous delivery and continuous deployment).

Continuous Integration

Developers who make use of continuous integration practices merge changes back into the main branch as frequently as possible. The changes are validated for creating continuous builds and running tests against the current build. CI helps eliminate the integration loop that developers find themselves. Instead of waiting for the release day to merge all changes, things are done systematically throughout the development schedule.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery extends as a branch of continuous integration. It allows you to release all changes made to an application directly to your customers while also maintaining sustainable development. In addition to having access to automated testing, you also automate your release schedule.
 
Continuous delivery allows you to release applications and updates anytime you want through a simple button press. You can choose your update schedule however, you see fit. Since the patches go into production very early, you can release small patches for your applications consistently instead of releasing large patches at one go.

Continuous Deployment

Continuous deployment goes even further than continuous delivery in various ways. By using this industry-standard practice, all the stages of your production pipeline are directly released to your customers. There is no intervention whatsoever as long as your test results are okay.
 
It accelerates feedback from customers, and as long as your team can handle the pressure of putting user feedback, there are no fixed release dates for patches. It allows developers to build apps and have patches go live for them in a matter of minutes.

4. How The Practices Related To Each Other and The Benefits of Each Practice?

Continuous Integration (CI) is part of continuous development as well as continuous delivery. Continuous development is similar to continuous delivery, with the only difference being that in continuous delivery, all releases happen rapidly.

Now that you know the differences between all three development practices, let’s take a look at the benefits of each.

Continuous Integration

Fewer bugs in the production stage.

Easy application building.

Reduced context switching.

Reduced testing costs.

Reduced QA testing time.

Continuous Delivery

Simplified deployment.

Short release windows.

Better feedback loop from customers.

Less development pressure for minor changes.

Continuous Deployment

Faster development.

Lower risk of bugs and issues.

Continuous improvements to apps.

Improved quality of apps over time.

5.What Is CI/CD In DevOps?

Conventional development and delivery methods are slowly getting phased out. As a software development company, we understand that the development process can get very complex, and it would require a large team to collaborate and develop apps consistently. In order to meet the stringent requirements of various industries, expectations from developers are at an all-time high. Software development is in a flux of change, and CI/CD fits right in the mix.

DevOps has always been recognized for its efficiency, and CI/CD is one of the most integral tools in DevOps. Developers that make use of DevOps principles achieve as much as 4600% more deployments. It also boasts of 96 times faster recovery times from any development failures, which is superb.

DevOps and CI/CD can be integrated to help developers deliver software rapidly. Communication and collaboration are also improved, and development cycles are shortened considerably. It enables development teams to meet deadlines and also improve the quality of output.

Continuous integration and continuous delivery are two of the most important pillars when it comes to DevOps. CI/CD’s adoption rate is higher than ever before, and it will only grow over time as the focus on streamlined development practices increases. Go here to read more about DevOps.

#Conclusion

If you adopt CI/CD practices, you will notice faster development times, better coordination between development teams, and more. With pressure from customers and enterprises, it can be difficult to work. The constant testing and deployment that CI/CD enables make it ideal for high-stress development environments. Documentation, marketing, and support are available for CI/CD,
and the development community is always at hand to help others out.

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