In any DevOps culture, teamwork is essential: Everyone shares ownership of the outcomes and the responsibility for success.
Teams often need to be cross-disciplinary and thrive on continuous improvement. While knowledge is widely distributed, continuous education and living documentation are essential. Agility is key. Together, these attributes lay the foundation for the ultimate goal: delivering value to the customer more rapidly and efficiently.
CI/CD takes that teamwork to another level.
CI/CD, short for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery/Deployment, entails integrating and deploying code through continuous automation. A DevOps approach can use CI/CD systems to connect legacy apps through the cloud and integrated systems, among other things.
We at Terazo like to think of CI and CD as two halves of a whole because it’s hard to do CD without CI. And you need both to deliver value to your customers quickly through the CI/CD pipeline.
CI (Continuous Integration) focuses on planning, testing, and building. It helps ensure that value exists, confirming that the new feature or addition works or that a tweak fixes an issue. The CI process enables multiple developers to merge code through a future branch, allowing updates to be made or new code to be added simultaneously that doesn’t impact or disrupt each other.
Something else that isn’t discussed as much in the CI process but deserves attention is what we call Continuous Improvement. As developers, we’re constantly automating and making things work smoothly throughout our CI process, but where’s the improvement? We focus not only on integration but also on measuring success and developing a process to improve what we’re doing.
CD (Continuous Delivery/Deployment) then focuses on deploying features and fixes as quickly as possible. In the ideal CI/CD pipeline, a change is committed to and then tested, built, and deployed in a single automated process. After the validation and integration testing, the code is automatically stored and can be organized and available for deployment.
Another way of putting it: CI is where you get your built artifacts; these then are picked up by your CD and sent to your hosted site or where it needs to execute. During deployment, developers can easily access and efficiently release code for apps, thanks to continuous automation.
Why is CI/CD important?
CI/CD adds value in many ways, but one of the most important things is that it reduces human error. Because the CI/CD process involves ongoing automation, it decreases human touch points and reduces errors.
In addition, multiple developers can work in the same environment seamlessly, and the CI/CD environment reduces disruptions from various changes to code. Ongoing testing ensures that all changes to the code are being validated.
While there are upfront costs, the CI/CD tools typically are worth the investment because they allow businesses to reduce their human resource and footprint to accomplish goals. As mentioned, consistency, repeatability, and automation reduce human error. If you consider observability, adding a CI/CD pipeline can provide the opportunity to insert KPI, data points, and other metrics to effectively measure and inform larger business decisions.
The Terazo process
Implementing a CI/CD process is a great start.
Imagine having an app that you’ve built and running it through your CI/CD pipeline. For fledgling DevOps teams, delivery times used to be measured in hours and sometimes days. These days, sometimes we can have answers in 10 to 15 minutes. Maybe your team wants to do it faster. Maybe there is certain testing that doesn’t need to be done. Maybe there are other tools your team can use.
Better monitoring and observability are crucial to determine how your CI/CD process relates to your business as a whole. How does it impact your revenue, business, and people? How do you measure success? How do you improve?
Continuing to ask if the process can be improved is essential. Just because you’ve implemented CI/CD tools that work doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.
There’s a mantra: Fail fast and fail often. If you fail fast, you can recover from it sooner rather than later. In a CI/CD environment, the faster you can build, the faster you can deliver, and the faster you can respond to other issues or move on to other work can directly affect the bottom line.
The goal of your CI/CD process should be simple: Ensure that it is not only delivered but also of quality. High quality.