A quick introduction to CI/CD
CI/CD is one of the pillars of modern cloud native software development. It improves your software products and makes its development more effective and cheaper This article discusses CI/CD and the different tools you can use to implement it.
The process of software development and deployment has been more efficient by the rise in automated development workflows. This efficiency translates into a better user experience, lower cost of development, and higher-level quality.
Iterative software development and testing are some of the ingredients of such success. Facebook, for example, releases 100 million lines of code daily. In order to achieve this, creating an effective CI/CD pipeline that doesn’t require a manual overhead to deliver commits and hotfixes, is required.
In this article, we’ll discuss what CI/CD is and the role it plays in DevOps.
What is CI/CD?
CI/CD stands for continuous integration, continuous delivery, or continuous deployment. Let’s define the scope covered by each of them.
- Continuous delivery: Now that building and testing are automated, we need to have software releases. Releases are what should be deployed to testing, staging, and production servers. Each change (or significant change batches) in your software code should reflect a new release. This process should be also automated and free of any manual overhead. At this level, we evolve the release management techniques to perform planning, scheduling, controlling, and testing builds through different stages and environments. In other words, continuous delivery aims to have ready-to-deploy artifacts on code changes, automatically and continuously.
- Continuous deployment. This is where application releases are deployed on the target environment. Continuous deployment is nothing more than an extension to continuous delivery: It intends to automate deployments based on the steps already done during the continuous delivery process. You can consider the continuous delivery outputs as the continuous deployment input. Some organizations limit automating deployments to testing and staging environments while keeping manual deployments for production and sensitive environments.
What is a CI/CD pipeline?
A CI/CD pipeline is a series of automated steps that takes software from development to deployment. It increases software delivery by introducing automation in integration, testing, delivery, and deployment. The number of stages that a pipeline has is dependent on the types of tests and reviews that are required. A typical pipeline is composed of three (or four) main stages: build, test, release and deploy. A CI/D pipeline is simply the set of steps involved in your CI/CD implementation.
Incorporating CI/CD into your organization’s development process
Introducing CI/CD to a team will certainly increase the frequency at which new versions are built, tested, and deployed. However, your team will need to clearly understand what role they are playing to ensure the continuity of the whole process. Failure to do this can lead to flaws in versioning, integration, security vulnerabilities, and other non-technical plights like the lack of motivation and nurturing a culture of blame.
When well implemented, CI/CD promises increased software development velocity and shorter time-to-market products. That is why determining the right processes, tools and personal are one of the most significant resolutions you’ll make while embracing this approach. First and foremost, DevOps and its successful implementation rely on the 3 pillars: People, Processes, and Tools.
One of the most straightforward, easiest, and quickest ways to introduce your team to CI/CD is using low or no-code CI/CD services, instead of mounting your pipeline manually using multiple tools. You’ll need to create your CI infrastructure, maintain your build tools, implement testing tools like security scanners, artifacts, and its storage infrastructure as well as other tools.
Using software as a service as your CI/CD tool will reduce the time to incorporate it into your organization while giving your team more time to focus on product development instead of focusing on building and maintaining pipelines and infrastructure.
Another solution is hiring DevOps specialists or training your developers to create and maintain your continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines. This alternative requires an investment of time and money while using a no-code tool can be 200x cheaper and 20x faster to implement.
What are some CI/CD tools?
The success of your CI/CD journey is largely dependent on the tools used to implement it. Below are some of the tools that you can use.
Wildcard (w6d) is a no-code, all-in-one, hassle-free platform that makes the deployment of cloud native apps smooth. It ranks higher above its peers because it is secure, easy to use, and has no hidden costs. Some of its features include:
- Kubernetes native: Wildcard was built for Kubernetes. It has plug-and-play Kubernetes features that allow developers to deploy their containerized apps to a cluster. The latter can be managed by Wildcard or an on-premises cluster managed by your team.
- AI-based, ready-to-use CI/CD templates: This powerful feature allows you to create CI/CD pipelines in minutes.
- This platform is reliable for both minor and major updates.
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This is an open-source intuitive build platform that supports continuous delivery. The goal of this tool is to boost teams’ productivity by supporting them throughout the development process.
- Screwdriver supports integration with Github, Docker, Bitbucket, Postgres, and MySQL
- It is extensible through a plugin system
- It gives control over your Kubernetes clusters
This is an open-source Java-based CI/CD tool. It supports the building and deployment of software and also allows for the automation of the whole process. Some of its features include:
- It has many plugins to support the build and deployment process
- It has scheduling features
- It is easy to install and use
This tool is best when you have complex software with major updates to be made by a team of developers.
GoCD, another open-source end-to-end workflow visualization tool. It helps users visualize the entire development process in a single view. Below are some of the GoCD features:
- It integrates with other external tools via extensible plugins
- It streamlines CD workflow on popular cloud environments such as Kubernetes and AWS.
- It supports modeling complex CD workflows
In sum, the industrialization of the development workflows increases the efficiency and quality of applications significantly. The CI/CD pipeline has three main stages that include the build stage, test stage, and delivery/deployment stage. Creating efficient pipelines makes the whole process flow seamlessly, thereby increasing the teams’ productivity.
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