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8 Best Practices to Boost Your CI/CD Performance

This article discusses the best practices that boost your CI/CD performance and how each impacts your software development journey.

CI/CD solutions have now been widely adopted by companies seeking to transform how they develop and deploy software. When well implemented it delivers more reliability and increases the speed at which new versions are deployed. In this article, we’ll discuss the best CI/CD practices that will maximize performance and reliability.

CI/CD Give security a high priority:

CI/CD allows for the collaboration of many teams to increase the speed from the build stage to the release stage. This makes it vulnerable to malicious attacks if not well secured at each point of access. Several intentional steps should therefore be taken to ensure that security gaps are closed and vulnerable points reinforced.

First, the passwords and usernames that are used in accessing the applications and services should be encrypted. Secondly, if you have a Git repository for the project, implement two-factor authentication to ensure that only authorized people gain access to it. Third, enable signed commits to verify the identity of authors making commits to the main branch.

Finally, ensure that the repositories can only be accessed by people who are allowed to make changes to them by assigning permissions based on responsibilities.

Only build once:

Avoid the practice of building the code at each stage in the pipeline. Instead, only build the code once and test that build only throughout the pipeline’s journey. This will ensure that the deployed version is consistent with the version that was originally CI/CD integrated by the developers. Failure to do this can lead to inconsistencies being overlooked and the test results being inconclusive.

To achieve a single build in a pipeline, the configuration scripts, variables, and authentication parameters need to be called from the deployment script instead of being included in the build itself. This enables the build to move seamlessly from one environment to another with tests being performed at each stage. When all the tests are done, the results reflect the actual performance of the built artifact that started the journey in the build stage of the pipeline.

Commit regularly and often:

One of the main benefits of continuous integration is the high speed at which an application can be developed and deployed. To achieve this speed commits need to be made often.

In a properly configured pipeline, each commit triggers a few automated tests to ensure that the part committed is acceptable. The quick feedback allows the developer to fix the bug that is pointed out fast because they are dealing with a smaller chunk of code. If commits are not made often, bugs can take days to fix because the developer has to analyze large chunks of code.

Continuous integration is made easier when all the contributors push their well-commented updates often. This saves time because teams will rarely have to be idle waiting for other teams to push major updates or fix bugs in big chunks of code.

Reset your environment:

With each deployment, there are many configuration changes that are made to the pre-production environment to best suit each of them. If you perform many deployments without resetting your configurations, it may become too difficult to keep track of all the configurations changes that were made.

It is therefore important to take time and reset them after every deployment is processed. Another way of achieving this is by using containers to host the pre-production environments. These can be easily destroyed and recreated after every deployment to ensure there is consistency in the pre-production environment.

Perform the tests in the right order:

CI/CD’s main goal is meant to enable fast deployment of new versions of applications that are developed. One of the ways of increasing the speed of deployment is by performing automated tests that give fast feedback to the developers. Some tests can be performed fast while others will take a lot of time to complete.

In order to optimize the time spent on tests, it is important to perform the test that takes the least time to complete first and then take the slow tests afterward. This ensures you are not wasting time on a build artifact that has issues. Unit and components tests are some of the commonly used tests that are fast while acceptance and GUI tests are the commonly used slower tests. It makes more sense to only perform acceptance tests to build artifacts that have passed the unit and components tests already.

Keep your builds ready:

Ensure that you get fast feedback on all builds and that issues detected are also addressed first before proceeding to other features. This prevents the other team members from building on code that is incorrect. This can be done by automating the tests that take over after each build is completed and prioritizing the correction of issues that arise during the tests.

This ensures that incorrect builds do not clog up the pipeline as teams blame each other for the delay. It should therefore be all the team’s responsibility to certify that the build that was last tested is working well before proceeding to make more commits to the main branch.

Maintain a clearly defined roll-out and rollback policy:

Each time a deployment is rolled out, it carries a risk of having bugs that can lead to a rollback being implemented. It is important to define the problem threshold early enough so as to know when to persevere or when to roll back. While some minor problems can be left to be corrected in the next release, major problems would require an immediate rollback.

Define the release strategy:

Having a predetermined release strategy allows you to modify the tests performed on the build to maximize efficiency.  For instance, a build that is released using a blue-green deployment allows the developers to test it in a blue environment that is identical to a production environment. This means that some tests can be skipped and instead performed right after the deployment in the blue environment. A canary release does not allow the same opportunity and thus thorough testing is necessary before getting to the release stage.

Use Wildcard to automate the build and test process:

You don’t have to be a DevOps engineer to get started with CI/CD. We provide a NoOps platform that gets you started with continuous deployment without writing any code.

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