The Benefits of CI/CD Pipeline Automation for Your IT Business
Today’s business world is incredibly fast-paced and competitive. More often than not, companies that make the most effort to improve productivity and efficiency come out on top. Conversely, those which fail to at least attempt to streamline their various processes and systems are often consigned to the scrapheap. As a business owner or entrepreneur, it is important to keep up to date with the latest innovations in your field so you can generate more income and streamline the processes within your business. In other words, to become more profitable while doing less work! One way to achieve this with CI/CD pipelines.
CI/CD is a software development philosophy designed to increase automation and efficiency. CI stands for ‘Continuous Integration’ while CD stands for ‘Continuous Delivery’ and ‘Continuous Deployment’.
CI simply implies its literal meaning; continuous integration that ensures the preparation for a software release or particular update is easier. CD, on the other hand, relates to continuous delivery or continuous deployment and the automated delivery of executable software. However, there are more benefits to these practices than the few just mentioned. This post will explore the advantages of CI/CD.
CI is a software development practice where a team makes frequent, small changes to an application, as opposed to larger, less frequent releases. This is achieved by taking all the changes made by the team, automatically testing against an initial central, software build which looks for errors, and then merging and integrating the changes if none are found. In this regard, the code is ‘self-testing’.
This development practice reduces, or eliminates, the need for the conventional ‘release day’ and removes the pressure and stress that usually goes alongside it. Instead, development teams are able to create cohesive, better performing software quicker. It also makes for shorter learning cycles, so team members are able to develop their skills faster.
Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment
CD is an extension of CI, where the software is not only tested, merged, and integrated automatically, but is kept in a deployable state. This means that the software is not only frequently updated, but automatically rolled out to the client regularly as well. With CD, you get the advantage of being able to automate your release processes. This will make the delivery or deployment of your application to your customers much easier, with just the click of a button.
As a matter of fact, with CD you can deliver releases daily, weekly, biweekly, or even annually – whatever suits you and your clients best. But to be most effective, it’s best that the delivery occurs as soon as possible and in small batches or quantities. That way, you’ll get more frequent feedback from your customers and be able to make the most effective adjustments for subsequent releases.
In a sense, continuous deployment tends to be an upgrade of continuous delivery. The idea behind this is that with continuous deployments, your customers will have access to every change throughout the development process. With this methodology, a failed test of an update will stop an update from being rolled out to your clients. With continuous deployment, there’s no need for a release day, reducing the pressure on your release team – they can simply get on with developing software.
A major advantage of continuous deployment is that when properly automated, it’s great for obtaining reviews and feedback from customers about the quality of your software and what can be done to improve it. There’s less need to anticipate their future needs; they’ll tell you explicitly.
The Benefits of CI/CD Automation
The benefits of CI/CD cannot be overemphasized, as these measures create major business benefits, especially economically and financially. These benefits include:
Analysis and Reporting
CI/CD helps with continuous testing and inspection and this is extremely valuable to most businesses, particularly IT companies. It offers various insights on the project you’re working on and is very useful in comparing it with previous releases. As well as analyzing and gaining additional, useful information about the release. With CI, you can use a variety of metric indexes. This includes unit tests, complexity, dependency, length, code smell, and many others.
Since you can use CI/CD for analysis as well as inspection, you can use it to discover errors and problems that arise in a project. This way, you can effectively quarantine and cull problems, so as not to affect the business’ productivity. This means that the good CI automation measures can also serve as good security measures, notifying you of any errors. However, CI will not fix these errors, as they’re for the developers to fix.
Help in The Validation of your Assumptions
With CI/CD unit testing, you can effectively validate your assumptions about the effect of certain changes to the software build. The unit testing essentially replaces your assumptions with knowledge and certainty. With this, ideas and innovations that have a positive impact on productivity are duly rewarded.
Less Human Effort
Imagine if a developer has to manually search for errors or bugs within a project. This can take a long time and can be a waste of valuable man hours and the developer’s talent. Yet the problems still might not be rectified. Now, on the other hand, the latest CI/CD systems are incredibly effective at debugging and are very easy to set up. With CI/CD, companies can better meet proposed deadlines for a release due to time-saving, CI automation, and developers can do something more fulfilling for them and valuable to the business.
Greater Confidence Within The Business
With every successful application of CI/CD measures, developers grow in confidence which results in a huge, net positive impact for the business. There will be growing confidence to venture into many more projects, with less fear of failure. The experience garnered over time of working with CI/CD will create this surge of confidence within your business.
With CI/CD automation, developers’ spend their time more effectively and their value to the business increases.
Practices Involved in CI/CD
For the right utilization of CI/CD pipelines, there are some practices that should be carried out for maximum effectiveness. These include:
Single Source Repository
Virtually every software project requires a varying number of files aligned together in such a way to build a project. Keeping track of all of these can be complex, increasingly so when a lot of developers are involved!
This is why the use of tools, like those for source code management, is necessary. For an IT business, it is vital that you use a high-quality, source code management system for CI/CD. This will definitely help increase the contribution of each developer for whatever project they are working on.
Another complicated process in the practice of CI/CD is turning the source code into a system that runs as smoothly as possible. This involves a number of tasks like moving around various files and uploading schematics to the system’s database. You can achieve this by using automated builds from where the system can be launched and scripts can be deployed with a single command.
Using Self Testing Builds
Using an automated build that cannot effectively execute your business operations will only lead to more complications. This is why you have to ensure your chosen build fits the various programs needed for your CI/CD practices.
Making the Build Fast
Since CI/CD practices are most useful for quick business operations and rapid feedback, it is important that the build meet these demands. Also, it shouldn’t limit the speed of the whole process.
As an IT company, if you’re not utilizing CI/CD pipelines, I’d strongly advise looking into doing so promptly. They greatly help in ease of operationalization, making thing within your business more measurable. This highlights aspects that need improvement and help you direct your time and attention. More importantly, CI/CD makes your business more productive, which leads to it being more profitable.
What’s particularly thrilling is the fact that we’re only scratching the surface when it comes to CI/CD. There is plenty more to come in terms of upgrades, efficiency, innovation, and its ability to benefit a variety of businesses, especially those in the IT sector.
If you want to learn more about how CI/CD can benefit your business, get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.
Using GitLab? Find out how to use the powerful CI/CD features of the platform.