What is CI/CD?

CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. Today, it also stands for Continuous Deployment. It is a set of practices that allow you to continuously test, build, and deploy your code. Software developers live and breathe version control systems like Git. They use them to track changes to their code and to collaborate with their team members. This led to the first practice of CI/CD: Continuous Integration.

Continuous Integration is the practice of integrating code changes into a shared repository as often as possible. This allows developers to catch bugs early, and to collaborate more efficiently. The second practice of CI/CD is Continuous Delivery.

As mentioned before, it also means Continuous Deployment. Continuous Deployment is the practice of automatically deploying your code to production. This allows you to deploy your code as soon as it is ready, and to deliver value to your users as soon as possible. Nosana is a distributed CI/CD environment, and we leave the deployment keys safely in the hands of the ones responsible for the software. This discussion will therefore focus on the CI/C-Delivery mostly.

Continuous Delivery is the practice of building and deploying your code to production. This allows us to test our code in a production-like environment, and to catch bugs before they reach our users. Usually deploying to production is a manual process, but with Continuous Deployment, we can automate this process. This allows us to deploy our code as soon as it is ready, and to deliver value to our users as soon as possible.

Let’s imagine that you are developing a new payments rail for your fintech startup. You have a team of five developers, and you are using Git to track changes to your code. You have the main branch and the develop branch. The main branch is used to deploy your code to production, and the develop branch is used to deploy your code to staging. You have a CI/CD pipeline that runs on every commit to the develop branch. This pipeline runs your unit tests, builds your code, and deploys it to your staging environment. You have a second CI/CD pipeline that runs on every commit to the main branch. This pipeline runs your unit tests, builds your code, and deploys it to your production environment. This way, we always know what the current state is of our code, and we can have confidence in deploying every time.

Here at Nosana, we are taking the concept of CI/CD to its next logical step: A distributed network of CI/CD environment. You use a distributed version control system, so why not use a distributed CI/CD environment? But before we get to the next logical step, we need to focus on the basics of CI/C-Delivery. Let’s jump in.

What is Continuous Integration?

To encourage development teams to make frequent, small changes to code and to verify those changes in a central repository, the concept and set of procedures known as “continuous integration” emerged. It was first introduced by software engineer Grady Booch in 1991, who suggested that developers should integrate their code changes daily to reduce the risk of integration problems. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that CI began to gain widespread adoption, thanks in part to the popularity of agile software development methodologies.

To keep up with the demands of modern applications, development teams need a consistent approach to integrating and testing changes, as most apps nowadays require code to be developed on a number of platforms and are using a range of tools. Continuous Integration is a software development methodology that uses automation to streamline the application lifecycle by taking care of tasks like compilation, packaging, and testing. Having a standardized integration procedure generally encourages developers to share their work and improves the overall quality of the code.

The benefits of CI

Numerous benefits of using Continuous Integration can be identified. These benefits are usually quick to emerge, as CI usually comes first in any software automation pipeline. Right at the moment when somebody adds a change to the code!

Identify and fix errors fast
The first key advantage of continuous integration is that it helps teams identify and fix errors quickly. For example, if a developer makes a change to a codebase and submits it for review, the CI system will automatically build and test the code to ensure that it is free of errors. If the build or tests fail, the developer will receive immediate feedback and can fix the error before it affects the rest of the codebase.

Collaboration and coordination
Another benefit of continuous integration is that it promotes collaboration and coordination among team members. Since CI automatically integrates and tests code changes, developers can work on different parts of the codebase simultaneously without worrying about conflicts or compatibility issues. This can help teams to deliver software faster and more efficiently.

Improved Quality
Furthermore, continuous integration can boost the overall quality of a codebase. By frequently building and testing code changes, teams can detect errors early in the development process, before they become more difficult and costly to fix. This can save businesses time and money while also resulting in higher-quality software.

What is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous delivery is a software development practice in which code changes are automatically built, tested, and deployed to production. The goal of continuous delivery is to reduce the time it takes for code changes to be put into production, and to make it easier for developers to get their code into production.

The origins of continuous delivery can be traced back to the early days of agile software development, when developers began to adopt agile methodologies that emphasized rapid iteration and the frequent delivery of small, incremental changes to the software. Continuous delivery builds on this idea by automating many of the steps involved in releasing software, such as building, testing, and deploying code.

Over time, the practice of continuous delivery has evolved to include a variety of tools and techniques that help developers automate the software delivery process. These tools include continuous integration servers, which automate the process of building and testing code changes, and deployment automation tools, which help automate the process of deploying code to production environments.

Today, continuous delivery is an essential part of many modern software development practices and is used by organizations of all sizes to improve the speed, reliability, and agility of their software delivery processes.

The benefits of CD

Here are some key benefits of using continuous delivery in software development:

Faster time to market
A team that uses continuous delivery can release a new feature or update to their software within hours or even minutes of a code change being made. This allows them to respond to customer feedback or market trends quickly and effectively.

Improved reliability
A team that uses continuous delivery can automatically run a suite of tests on their codebase every time a change is made. This can help them to identify and fix errors early in the development process, reducing the risk of failures and outages in their software.

Enhanced collaboration
A team that uses continuous delivery can automatically integrate and deploy code changes from multiple developers, ensuring that the codebase remains stable and consistent. This can help team members to work together more effectively, reducing the risk of conflicts and delays.

Greater agility
An organization that uses continuous delivery can quickly and easily deploy new features and updates to its software, allowing them to respond to changes in the market or customer needs more rapidly. This can help them to stay competitive and maintain a competitive advantage.

Improved readability
Most engineers spend most of their time reading code instead of writing it. By using CI, you can enforce a style guide to ensure that the codebase has the same feeling from top to bottom.

The CI/CD Pipeline

The CI/CD pipeline is a set of automated processes that allow developers to build, test, and deploy their software quickly and reliably. It helps to ensure that the software is always in a deployable state, and it can be an essential tool for any organization that values rapid and frequent software releases. There are typically several stages in a CI/CD pipeline, each with its own specific purpose and function. Let’s take a look at some of the most common stages:

Commit
This is the first stage of the pipeline, and it’s where new code changes are committed to the version control system (e.g., Git). When a developer pushes a commit to the repository, it triggers the CI/CD pipeline to begin.

Build
In the build stage, the pipeline compiles the code and performs any other necessary tasks to prepare it for testing. This could include running linters to check for code style issues or generating build artifacts like executables or libraries.

Test
The test stage is where the pipeline runs automated tests to ensure that the code is functioning as expected. This could include unit tests, integration tests, or other types of tests depending on the specific needs of the project.

Staging
The staging stage is the second stage in the pipeline. It is the second stage because it is the second stage that we can automate. The staging environment is a copy of the production environment. It is a copy of the production environment because we want to make sure that the application works in the same environment as the production environment.

Deployment
If the code passes all the tests in the previous stage has had time to mature and is approved by the necessary stakeholders, it’s ready to be deployed to production. The deployment stage handles the process of releasing the code to users, whether that’s through a rolling deployment to a set of servers, to the app store, or through a more traditional release process.

Monitor
Once the code is deployed, it’s important to monitor its performance and stability. The monitoring stage of the pipeline helps to ensure that the software is functioning as expected and that any issues are quickly detected and addressed.

These are just a few of the stages that might be included in a CI/CD pipeline, and the specific tasks and processes will vary depending on the needs of the project. By automating these stages, organizations can release software faster and with more confidence, knowing that the code has been thoroughly tested and is ready for production. Successful builds are released into the production environment, enabling continuous deployment by a DevOps team. When using continuous deployment, some teams update their live servers every day, while others choose to do it every hour. Not all business applications benefit from continuous deployment, though.

Conclusion

Improving your CI performance with metrics requires knowledge of your CI process, development team, and developer tools and runtimes. Modern performance and quality indicators are sometimes complex and challenging to track, analyze, and derive insights from. However, modern continuous integration and continuous delivery methods and platforms eliminate this problem. Nosana can help your CI/CD process run smoothly and provide you with constant insights. Try us today by clicking here!

You can learn more about our CI tools at https://nosana.io

Thanks for reading!

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