CI/CD: Benefits, Challenges, and Best Practices for Your Team
Automation has paved its way into almost all fields now. From car assembly to prediction systems to testing software, automation is omnipresent! Actually, we require it to be everywhere. We keep on developing new methods to replace manual processes with automation. Why is automation so important? To just casually put here, automation is an error-free and time-saving process and people love processes that do not create mistakes and save their time. With such a hectic atmosphere in DevOps, CI/CD comes to our rescue and divides the responsibility of integrating the newer versions and deploying them continuously and automatically.
CI/CD is abbreviated for continuous integration and continuous delivery or continuous deployment. Both of these methods are a portion of developing software through an Agile methodology which is one of the common SDLC methodologies in the industry. While working with agile, we are forced to push newer changes very regularly (week or fifteen days). With every code push, a chain of methods has to be triggered to verify the consistency and quality of our code. We call this process of continuous integration of the latest code into the older one as, well, continuous integration! the necessity for CI is straightforward. Manually testing your integrated code again and again after every fifteen days isn’t only time-consuming but repetitive also. Repetitive processes often end in tons of errors and hence should be avoided at the least costs. Luckily, our machine prefers repetitive tasks and where repetitive tasks are, automation exists de facto.
The next stage is continuous delivery / continuous deployment. Once we are through with integrating the new code, we’d like to check it for any errors. a hard and fast set of tests are an honest start to execute on the integrated code. If we get a green light from the testing phase, the machine can deploy the code or deliver the code to the end-users automatically. Else, revert back with the error messages to repair them as quickly as possible. an enormous advantage here is that the code doesn’t get accumulated for testing. As soon because the new code is integrated (which might be however small), the testing is performed thereon after integration. The errors are therefore easier to rectify and therefore the process becomes smooth. within the industry, you’d often ask these processes as build-test-deploy or CI/CD pipeline. But there’s more to CI/CD than simply “integrating” and “deploying”.
Benefits of CI/CD
Using the CI/CD methodology in our software development cycle provides us with the subsequent advantages:
- Time-Saver: CI/CD may be a huge time saver because the process is automated and may be performed at any time for as long as you would like. On the opposite hand, manual testing features a lot of your time constraints.
- Cost-Saver: CI/CD pipeline cuts down the manual efforts and may be implemented at any odd hours. Since automation often incurs a one-time cost, CI/CD saves tons of greenbacks within the end of the day.
- Improved code quality: CI/CD involves regular checks, even for little changes, the code is error-free at every stage. These regular checks contribute to the standard of the code and make it extremely good. This is often in contrast to manual testing where sometimes a smaller change can be skipped presuming the code would be error-free.
- Increased Efficiency: Without a CI/CD pipeline, the smaller errors that don’t have a big impact on the standard of code are often ignored until accumulated. When the time involves rectifying those errors, they often take tons of your time and reduce the productivity of various teams. With CI/CD pipeline, these errors are rectified as soon as they occur. This takes less time and QA and development teams can specialize in their respective responsibilities.
- Improved Management: CI/CD process returns a report in each phase of the build, test, and deploy section. These reports are common and may be viewed by every team for a far better understanding of errors and share their common views. This keeps the general process transparent and up-to-date within the SDLC
Challenges to implementing CI/CD pipelines
CI/CD pipelines don’t come as smooth as they’ll look. the subsequent challenges continue implementing the CI/CD pipeline:
- Large Project Dilemma: One CI/CD pipeline is usually not recommended for an outsized project, the projects that are developed on a worldwide level in big companies. the rationale being that because the project grows, every single module starts to become complex in nature. If CI/CD pipeline is run on every single change of each single module, it might take forever to seek out the source of error in such an outsized codebase.
- Security Issues: Security mishaps are sure to happen in CI/CD pipeline which is clear through the survey done through 451 research. The research survey shows that not only security issues are a drag but false positives hamper the method in CI/CD pipeline to an honest extent. This becomes a challenge in CI/CD as security is that the main concern for many clients and organizations also. Therefore, tests like static application security tests and software composition analysis tests are an honest thanks to starting.
- Resource Management: Resource management is usually not a problem while performing on a smaller project. But if the project starts to require shape, the pipeline becomes big. In certain cases, we may need to work with multiple pipelines. Such an outsized architecture consumes resources at no time rates and sometimes unnecessarily. For instance, if there are smaller changes to be considered, the entire pipeline is run again taking an additional amount of resources, especially during integration.
- Lack of Experience: CI/CD pipelines aren’t as hard to implement but as long as you’ve already experienced the extent of the project you’re handling. CI/CD pipelines have nested sections like build, test, and deploy. Then, within the test section, you would like to possess perfect test cases that don’t break the method. additionally thereto, the team members authorized with the pipeline should be trained to stay the pipeline optimized with time by making necessary modifications.
Best practices to building a good CI/CD pipeline
CI/CD pipelines contain various elements that ought to add sync to push the ultimate changes to the assembly. an honest pipeline gives equal importance to each of those elements and implements them in the most effective way possible. during this section, we’ll see what elements make a CI/CD pipeline and dig each of them to know their importance.
Commit – Version Control System
A versioning system may be centralized storage of codebase which takes care of storing every little change within the code and preventing the members from downloading the entire project again and again. For instance, Git may be a great
Git is liberal to use and brings tons of features like release versions, collaboration management, and far more. during a CI/CD pipeline, the primary stage starts with a commit. A commit is confirming your changes done to the code that you simply are ready and need these changes to be incorporated. to include these changes into the most repository on VCS, we make a push with our code. This “push” of code is that the trigger of the CI/CD pipeline. an honest pipeline starts with an honest VCS and usually all the favored VCS tools do the work. the sole thing to recollect is, use the tool that’s most familiar to the team members. A wrong command on a VCS can cause a touch of trouble otherwise.
Build The System – Continuous Integration
Once the code is committed and pushed, there’s an alert that a replacement change has arrived and has got to be integrated into all the modules and functionalities. this is often called continuous integration or generally mentioned because of the “build” phase of the pipeline. the continual integration brings up the pieces together and makes them ready for the subsequent phases. A CI/CD pipeline directly shifts from the commit phase to the build phase but an honest CI/CD pipeline performs a group of unit tests on these blocks and enhances the standard of the general system.
Unit tests play a crucial role before building the project again. Performing tests on smaller units can help us identify the errors quickly and target specific modules. within the absence of unit tests within the pipeline, tracing back the errors becomes extremely difficult. The build phase is additionally liable for uploading the artifacts that contain the server information to be utilized in the subsequent phase.
Test the System – Mimicking the Production Server
After passing the build phase, the artifacts are then read and therefore the integrated code is then pushed to the test server. This process that starts from the artifacts is often made easy with tools like Docker. Docker can assist you to manage different images and services on the platform your CI/CD pipeline is running. For instance, on AWS, ECS may be a great module that manages Docker and every one of the functionalities. this is often one of the foremost important phases within the pipeline because the system’s capabilities are checked after the mixing is completed.
A few sorts of tests are performed during this phase. Any method is ok and it completely depends upon the project you’re performing on. For instance, for a corporation performing on OBD devices, it’s extremely necessary to involve manual testing.
Deploying the Changes – Ready For The Customer
The last phase comes because of the “deploy” phase where we deploy the changes to the end-user on the assembly server. There are not any interventions needed during this phase. The deploy phase is merely achieved when the feedback loops are closed and there are not any more errors to be rectified. The deployed code is then made life to the users.
CI/CD pipeline may be a combination of various modules that employment together from committing to deploying the code. Since their inception into the industry, they need not only stuck within the process but companies have begun to shift their deploying methods to CI/CD due to its effectiveness. for somebody who has worked without a pipeline, the shift explores new opportunities and better software quality.
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