CI/CD – Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery Explained

What is Continuous Integration(CI) 

Continuous Integration (CI) is a process where multiple developers are working on the same program; it is created and tested regularly to avoid integration problems. It is a process in which each team member can integrate their work at least once a day.

In other words, Continuous Integration(CI) is the process of merging the content of the developers and the functioning code into a central repository. Here, a developer and everyone on the team integrates, which leads to several integrations per day and is an essential part of a team’s daily development process.

A reliable, continuous integration process is a prerequisite for the implementation of a constant supply. In practice, continuous integration relies on a robust validation suite and automated systems to perform tests to eliminate friction in the integration process. So basically, it is a team process.

A successful, continuous integration system consists of several automated processes that test, release, and integrate new coding changes.

What is Continuous Delivery(CD)

If you want to speed up your software development life cycle and deliver a more consistent product, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are ideal for your business.

Continuous Delivery is a software developing technology that enables the code to be ready for deployment every time. It is the ability to deploy changes to software frequently, and it is necessary to practice continuous deployments.

Continuous delivery is an augmentation of continuous integration that ensures that new changes can be passed on to customers quickly and sustainably. It is an important aspect that enables users to automate the end-to-end pipeline with CI/CD. 

When developers use continuous delivery, they intend to keep the main codebase in place and push it into production when developers execute new changes.

What is Continuous Deployment(CD)

In the CI/CD pipeline, the term “CD” can be ambiguous because  the terms “continuous delivery” and “continuous deployment” are often confused as they share the acronym “CD.”

Continuous Deployment means that every change a developer makes goes through a pipeline and, if it passes all the tests, is automatically incorporated into the production. Continued use can be described as part of the coding workflow, while the actual code release is done via endpoints. 

If developers successfully implement continuous deployment, this means that we will also achieve continuous delivery. Continuous deployment brings code successfully accepted in the CI/CD cycle seamlessly into the production environment and is automatically introduced into production with a code commit build. 

Continuous delivery is a way to automate the software delivery process to enable easy and secure delivery in production. Continuous deployment expands continuous delivery by providing software builds as soon as they pass a test. It lights up a permanent green light by inserting a pause button into delivering software to users.

What is CI/CD Pipeline?

CI/CD

A CI/CD pipeline builds your code and installs a new version of the software when an update executes. The pipeline runs tests in CI, generates the code, and securely implements new versions of the application on CD. A CI/ CD pipeline creates code in a DevOps environment, using Jenkins and other CI and CD tools.

The CI/CD pipeline provides a workflow that allows developers to integrate and share code more frequently with the developing team to avoid potential conflicts with future builds. Most pipelines will trigger new codes when ready, but the trigger can also happen by automatically scheduling workflows of other pipelines connected to it. 

For CI/CD pipelines, the time it takes to commit is limited to how often a developer can use a new code per day. There are no strict and fast rules that determine what you should use your pipeline for, what tools it should use, and the most common components of the pipeline, whether creating a web application, mobile app, mobile app, or database.

CI/CD pipeline is a common practice in modern software development. With the development of cloud-native architectures, the setting of operating principles, and the development of operating systems, the need for continuous integration and delivery is increasing.

Ensuring CI/CD’s success is every developer’s dream because it takes a well-oiled pipeline before a developer can start with security at every stage. It ensures that a team develops more reliable and secure applications without losing efficiency. Organizations that understand the importance of CI and CD set the pace for innovation for everyone else. 

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Why is CI/CD Important?

More manageable and accessible code changes 

CI/CD allows coders to manage huge chunks of code at a time and makes it easier to integrate small pieces of code at one time. With continuous testing, developers can test small pieces of codes as soon as they are integrated into the code repository. This advantage allows a development team to identify the problem right away and in a more efficient manner.

Fault diagnosis

The term ” Fault diagnosis ” refers to the method of detecting and isolating error or the scope of a problem. Properly designed CI/CD pipelines help developers make sure that the fault diagnosis is faster and easier to carry out. CI/CD can prevent sudden breakdowns and other critical issues.

More test reliability

As the fault and failure of code can be detected and fixed faster, CI/CD pipeline leads to a faster release rate. CI/CD continuously merges and deploys code after thoroughly testing it, keeping it ready to release state. However, frequent releases are only possible if deployed in the continually moving system.

Lesser backlog

Introducing the CI/CD pipeline in your system helps a developer reduce the number of defects into their backlog. Lesser backlog allows developers to focus on important issues, rather than small flaws before they are released.

Customer satisfaction

CI/CD does not just benefit a developer, but also for clients. A good software or a service keeps on updating itself according to its users. CI/CD helps a product to stand up to date with the latest technology. CI/CD makes it easier to introduce new changes and modifications to the system, helping with its usability and, thus, the customer.

Cost reduction

CI/CD automation reduces the number of errors, thus the cost. Without CI/CD, fixing errors can take multiple repetitive steps; using CI/CD frees up the developer’s time as there are not many defects to fix.

Pros and Cons of CI/CD

Even the best DevOps processes have their pros and cons; Ci/CD pipelines does too. Let us look at some of the pros and cons of the CI/CD pipeline.

Pros:

  • CI/CD speeds up testing and enables analyses.
  • CI/CD enables faster and more efficient fault diagnosis.
  • With CI/CD, when a fault in the system is isolated, repetitive changes can be avoided. 
  •  Changes in codes are smaller.
  • CI/CD increases code coverage.
  • CI/CD can automate the development process, making the life-cycle more efficient.
  • CI/CD automation paces the development process.
  • With CI/CD, developers now can never ship broken code.
  • As mentioned earlier, the CI/CD significantly reduces the backlog.
  • The CI/CD pipeline allows developers to take over the code stored in your repository and deliver it continuously to production.
  • CI/CD creates the opportunity to launch your product ahead of the competition and publish new features and bug fixes to satisfy your current customers.
  • Lots of open-source tools available.

Cons:

  • When the code base is ready in a CI/CD pipeline, it must be immediately put to production once the testing is successful. This immediacy can lead to cause panic in businesses.
  • As CI/CD is a coordinated effort between team members, they have to be in sync with releases. A lot of attention and detailing is required, which can be too much for rookies.
  • Even a bit of miscommunication may lead to a logical fallacy.
  • A CI/CD automation requires a steep learning curve and hence the training cost.
  • Traditional legacy systems rarely support CI/CD.
  • A high level of discipline and dedication is required.

The Relationship between CI/CD and DevOps

DevOps

DevOps is a set of practices that operates on agile principles combining software development and IT operations.  CI/CD is an essential subset of the DevOps ecosystem, using the right automated testing tools to implement agile development.

CI/CD focuses on software-defined life cycles highlighting tools that emphasize automation. DevOps focuses on culture, highlighting roles that emphasize responsiveness.

A CI/CD implementation, or Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment, is the backbone’s modern DevOps environment. It connects the gap between development and operations teams by automating the building, testing, delivering, and deploying applications.

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What are the Best DevOps CI/CD tools?

1. Zuul

ZUUL

If you want to integrate CI/CD into your development workflow and want a tool that can handle a large number of projects, you should look into Zuul.

Initially developed by the open stack foundation, the Zuul project specializes in project grating. Zuul is fully integrated with Github enterprise and Gerrit and is known for its support of all required servers such as Apache, Apache Mesos, and Apache 2.0. Zuul has several test configurations like 

  • Cross-project testing.
  • Project dependency. 
  • Parallel testing.

Key features of Zuul :

  • Zuul offers multiple test configurations.
  • It supports multiple development platforms, Github, GitHub Enterprise, and Gerrit. Bitbucket’s integration.
  • Frequently updated software, so lookout for new updates.
  • Zuul supports a multi-cloud environment in affiliation with Nordpool.
  • The project focuses on project gating.
  • Free to use.

Companies like BMW, GoDaddy, and Netflix are some of the well-known users of this tool.

2. Jenkins

Jenkins

Jenkins is an open-source tool for designing the CI/CD pipeline with over 1400 plugins.  Written in Java, these third party modules handle everything from code management to platform management and so much more. In recent years, Jenkins has evolved into an adaptable software automation server while being convenient, elastic, and extensible.

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Jenkins automates the CI pipeline saving the developer’s tons of time and money throughout the project lifetime.  Jenkins enhances total productivity through test summaries, which can provide the parameters such as the number of tests, time taken to execute these tests, etc.

The master-slave architecture of Jenkins provides delivery and builds pipelines. This architecture further enables the tool to be available for different operating systems and clouds to build cloud-native applications.

Key features of Jenkins :

  • Jenkins has simple installation and upgrades to all the mainstream operating systems.
  • Easy and flexible interface.
  • Extensible with a community-driven plugin resource.
  • Easy configuration of the environment in the UI/UX.
  • Supports grouped master-slave architecture builds.
  • The tool supports the execution of Windows shells and commands in pre-build steps.
  • Free to use.

Organizations like Netflix,eBay, and Jenkins use Jenkins.

3. CircleCI

CircleCI

CircleCI is a CI/CD or rather a continuous integration tool that supports the software’s rapid development and release. CircleCI enables automation across the user’s pipeline, from code building, testing to deployment. The tool is simple to start and runs on lightweight YAML configurations. In terms of integration, CircleCI connects users with GitHub, Bitbucket, Fastlane, Azure, AWS, Heroku, Docker, and Slack.

As a part of the CI process, CircleCI allows developers to test each commit and run builds on a virtual machine. With CircleCI, developers have the option of hosting on the cloud or an on-premise server.

Circle CI’s multiple configurations give developers the freedom to harmonize their job execution should from testing the deployment. Developers can also speed up builds with expandable caching options.

Key features of CircleCI

  • CircleCI fits into Bitbucket, GitHub, and Cloud Enterprise.
  • The tool provides several services, including a container and a VM, to build user code.
  • Straightforward and easy debugging.
  • CircleCI supports automated parallelizing users can run parallel pipelines at the same time.
  • Smooth and fast testing.
  • CicleCI supports custom text and IM updates
  • Deployment is continuous and branch-specific
  • CircleCI is entirely customizable.
  • Automated fusion and custom packet upload commands
  • Rapid setup and unlimited construction

Organizations like Udemy, Nextdoor, Gopro, etc. use CIrcleCI.

5. Bamboo

Bamboo

Bamboo is a CI server that automates software application releases, thus creating a CD pipeline. Developed by Atlassian in the year 2007, Bamboo allows the developers to systematically build itself, integrate tests the source code, and prepare an app for deployment.

Bamboo covers structure and functional testing, assigning model versions, tagging releases, deploying and activating new product versions, and integrating with other(mainly) Atlassian products such as JIRA, Bitbucket, and Stash, Hipchat, and Confluence.

Bamboo is one of the most expensive CI/CD software, but it is worth every penny. It is one of the few tools that helps solo developers to automate their tests. Developers can even deploy their server to services like google play and Apple app store.

Key features of Bamboo :

  • Bamboo can provide support for up to 100 remote agents.
  • Users can test batches in parallel and get quick feedback.
  • Bamboo enables users to create images and push them to a record.
  • The Bamboo pre-environment support allows developers and testers to deploy on-demand in their environments while the output remains locked.
  • The tool can detect new branches in Git, Mercurial, SVN Repos, and automatically apply the mainline CI scheme.
  • Triggers build based on modifications found in the repository. 
  • Bamboo pushes Bitbucket notifications, a set schedule, etc.

Companies like Trinet, OBB, and source one use Bamboo.

6. Gitlab

GitLab

GitLab is a set of tools designed to manage different phases of the software development lifecycle. The core product of Gitlab is a web-based Git repository manager with traits such as issue tracking, analytics, and a Wiki. 

GitLab allows programmers to trigger builds, run tests, and deploy code with each push. Developers can also build jobs in a virtual machine, Docker container, or on some other server.

GitLab also supports parallel builds and split builds over multiple machines for faster execution. GitLab is also scalable as the users can add as many devices as they want. Talking about scalability, users can also scale up and down virtual machines and ensure the processing of builds and cut down costs. 

Key features of GitLab:

  • The whole package includes various tools, including branching tools to view, create, and manage codes and project data.
  • Plan, build, and collect codes and project data from a single distributed version control framework so that business values can be quickly iterated and delivered.
  • GitLab provides precise scalability for a project and code collaborations.
  • The platform helps delivery teams fully embrace CI by automating source code development, integration, and verification.
  • It provides container scanning, static application security testing (SAST), dynamic application security testing (DAST), and dependency scanning to deliver safe applications and compliance with licenses.
  • GitLab helps the automation and shortening of releases and application delivery.

Organizations like Trivago, Alibaba, and Gojek use Gitlab’s services.

What is CI/CD in Azure?

Microsoft Azure

One of the main targets of programming in the DevOps environment is to provide faster and reliable releases. In this regard, the terms of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment have become very popular. The Azure project helps with it a lot as it makes it much faster, better, and efficient.

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Azure Web apps services are a fast and efficient mode to create a web application using ASP.NET, Java, Node. Js or PHP. With Azure, developers can deliver a program’s value faster to their customers with a  (CI/CD) pipeline, automatically pushing every change to their  Apps.

The Azure DevOps simplifies the setup of a complete CI/CD pipeline to Azure DevOps. Developers can start with their existing code or use one of the provided applications. Then they can quickly deploy that application to various Azure services such as VMs, App Service,  Kubernetes Services (AKS), Azure SQL Database, etc.

Take advantage of the CI/CD pipeline in Azure DevOps to build, test, and deploy continuously to deliver excellence to your customer’s choices with ease.

    Prerequisites for an Azure CI/CD project

        Configure CI/CD in Azure DevOps:

  • Create an Azure DevOps Project 
  • Edit a build pipeline(will be created automatically)
  • Edit a release pipeline. (will be created automatically)
  • Clone the Code Repository.
  • Explore the CI/CD pipelines.
  • Trigger the CI/CD process.

Best Azure Services/Tools for CI/CD 

What is CI/CD Kubernetes?

Kubernetes

Kubernetes has all the advantages of a CI/CD pipeline that can save a developer time and money. With features like automating the deployment, scaling, and management of container applications, it is an intelligent solution that will help programmers achieve their CD goals. 

Also, Kubernetes with Jenkins helps break down the barriers between the development and production environments and integrate CI/CD pipelines.

More and more organizations recognize that Kubernetes containers offer more flexibility than the traditional tools they use. Kubernetes is an ideal platform for integrating CI/CD automation into their infrastructure. With one command, programmers can create a Kubernetes cluster, install all the tools they need to manage their applications, build and deploy pipelines, and deploy them in different environments. 

Prerequisites for an Kubernetes CI/CD 

Configure CI/CD in Kubernetes( with Jenkins)

  • Create a Kubernetes cluster.
  • Configure Jenkins to Kubernetes.
  • Create the Jenkins pipeline.
  • Configure Jenkins Credentials For GitHub and Docker Hub.
  • Create the required files.
  • Test the CI/CD pipeline.

Note: This method is certainly not the only way to create a CI/CD pipeline for Kubernetes, but it is convenient and flexible. This approach allows users to skip the CI portion altogether and focus on the pipeline’s CD portion with Kubernetes.

CI/CD Tools best working with Kubernetes

  • Draft
  • Helm
  • Skaffold
  • CircleCI
  • Jenkins(Cloudbees)
  • Gitlab
  • Travis
  • Spinnaker

What is CI/CD in AWS?

AWS

AWS has made CI/CD more comfortable than ever. It provides a set of developer tools that developers can use to achieve DevOps CI/CD in a fully-secured, scalable, and manageable system. AWS renders a comfortable integration environment with existing CI/CD tools like Ansible, Chef, puppet, Terraform, etc.

AWS provides CI/CD for Virtual Machine or container-based services and options to manage (create, update and delete) all other services like databases, storage, computer, machine learning, etc.

Developers can use Amazon CodePipeline to build a pipeline and stop pipeline execution at any time, as an action can be approved or rejected by someone with the appropriate permissions. AWS CodeBuild and CodeDeploy can further automate the pipeline and enable the entire CI/CD workflow to be kept server-free. The AWS team will guide a rookie developer through the process of implementing CD and automated delivery for their program. 

Prerequisites for an AWS CI/CD

 Configure CI/CD in AWS

  •  Create the repository.                           
  •  Clone a copy of the source code. 
  •  Create an S3 bucket.
  • Create a pipeline role(source stage).
  • Build the pipeline(build stage).
  • Update the build pipelines (deploy stage).
  • Run and test the pipeline.

What are CI/CD tools in AWS

Training Materials 

There is a lot of training material available on the internet for CI/CD, as it is now in the mainstream DevOps environment. We have listed below some of the courses which would help you to kickstart your journey with CI/CD. 

Udemy DevOps Courses :

EDX Courses :

Skillshare Courses :

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