Ins and Outs of CI/CD Pipelines

In his book, “The Burnout Society”, Byung-Chul Han explores the modern era, driven predominantly by the virtues of speed, efficiency and multitasking. Although some may oppose these values, the undeniable fact is that the world is swiftly evolving.

Thriving in competitive markets is a daunting task for companies aiming to grow and develop. Striking a balance between efficiency and quality is crucial because hurrying through tasks can diminish the standard, whereas prioritising quality alone can impede progress and compel to fall behind competitors.

DevOps is an approach that strives to harmonize the integration and deployment phases of software development by introducing automation to minimise the time investment required by developers to conclude these tasks.

Forrester Research Inc. states that properly executed CI/CD pipelines boost developer productivity, allowing them to focus on innovating new features instead of fixing issues. Additionally, about 38% of businesses that deploy DevOps have witnessed more than 10% yearly growth in their ventures.

Nevertheless, what about the 62% who do not fall into the growth category? It is plausible that some businesses may take longer to witness significant growth, while others may battle against numerous hindrances when establishing a pipeline. Without adequate preparation, any implementation is bound to falter, and CI/CD pipelines are no exception.

Having a secure deployment and integration plan like CI/CD pipeline is highly encouraged for projects. Failing to implement this strategy makes it improbable for projects to keep pace with the competitive business environment and achieve their intended objectives of progress, durability and development.

When queried, “What constitutes a CI/CD pipeline?” the general response is “a technique to automate

A Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) typically progresses as follows:

  1. Planning
  2. Implementation
  3. Testing
  4. Documentation
  5. Guidelines for Utilisation and Maintenance

For over 60 years, the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) has been the gold standard for software development. It was first introduced in the 1960s with the goal of creating sturdy and scalable corporate systems, and the original protocols for each stage have persevered till today.

Today’s technology undoubtedly surpasses the methods of six decades ago in processing power and data transfer. At that time, integration was time-intensive, deployment had to be carried out in person and testing was a time-consuming process because of manual error examination. Such procedures are now outdated.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and enhanced network connections have made it possible to automate the once arduous chore of consolidating the team’s effort and releasing it straight to the customer, resulting in superior quality and speed. Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline essentially follows the same principle.

In case we describe integration as the process of bringing together the output of various developers, then continuous integration would be the employment of a technique that allows for regular submission of code to a central repository.

CD has two potential meanings: Continuous Deployment and Continuous Delivery. In Continuous Deployment, new product versions are tested and released to users swiftly. In case of Continuous Delivery, the product is handed over to the customer without requiring any manual interventions.

What is the purpose of implementing a CI/CD pipeline?

Automation is often linked with speed, as machines have the capability to complete tasks faster than human beings. The most remarkable advantage of a well-devised pipeline is the ability to swiftly execute and allocate tasks.

It is advisable that the developers send their updates to a central Git repository every day. By dividing the project into smaller and more manageable sections, potential issues can be spotted and resolved before they transform into major problems.

Picture having an AI that can automatically identify issues within code, instead of having a project manager manually scrutinising each line of code.

Through the establishment of a pipeline, we have been able to devote an increased amount of time to development. This has also curtailed the resources and time required for investigating and correcting errors, leading to more monetary resources available for research and development.

With regards to deployment and delivery, the pipeline is automated and there is no requirement of manual uploading of the project to production. Unit tests are executed to ascertain faultless deployment to the end-user.

Difficulties of Implementing a CI/CD Pipeline

The adoption of a DevOps mindset is becoming more and more prevalent among organizations, and a CI/CD pipeline can contribute positively to this. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that there can be certain drawbacks associated with this approach.

To construct a wholly automated CI/CD pipeline, particular skills are necessary. It is suggested that a DevOps engineer is hired for this, although it is feasible for a software developer to acquire the relevant skills.

Finding an experienced DevOps professional can be a challenge, as they typically demand high salaries. DevOps positions are among the most coveted and well-paying careers in the IT industry. Additionally, other developers may need training to work with the specific aspects of your pipeline.

The second challenge arises when one considers the cost of procuring and learning new technologies. Investing resources, such as time and money, is imperative in implementing CI/CD pipelines.

It is commonly accepted that setting up CI/CD pipelines can be intricate, which may necessitate the services of external professionals. Nonetheless, if the team is operating under tight time constraints, it may be preferable to avoid them completely.

It is crucial to ascertain that all current systems are compatible with a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) approach since older systems may not be supported. It is therefore vital to carry out a thorough diagnosis to detect any defective hardware or obsolete software that requires upgrading before implementing an automated process.

Quality and consistency are crucial for the success of DevOps. Even the most exceptional pipeline would not be very useful if the team is unable to achieve their integration objectives or deal with issues identified in unit testing.

Do you need to establish a CI/CD pipeline?

At the start of this conversation, I emphasised that despite the challenges, it is undoubtedly worth investing the requisite effort and resources to develop a methodical pipeline. Once all the team members are familiar with the system, the potential rewards can be extraordinary.

It is imperative to take the necessary time to consider whether to implement an automated pipeline. Large projects with ample resources can gain tremendous benefits from automation, whereas smaller teams or less complex projects may not need a complete pipeline to achieve the same advantages.

It is advisable to engage consultants to evaluate the pros and cons of implementing continuous integration and delivery in your operations before moving forward. Prudent deliberation should be exercised while making this decision to ensure that it is tailored to your organization’s requirements.

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