Today to stand apart from your competition, a key differentiator will be the high quality of your product. Maintaining quality experience is as important as speed of development. Many modern tools and methodologies such as Agile development, MVP, CI/CD (Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery), automation testing can help accelerate the speed as well elevate the final product quality.

CI/CD (Continuous Integration & Continuous Delivery) is most suitable for product development offering flexibility in product maintenance and scaling up.

Benefits of a CI/CD pipeline:

Agile model and CI/CD can help create products and implement new features better and faster. In a CI/CD pipeline, multiple job activities happen simultaneously: some product iterations are being developed, other iterations are being tested and others are heading for deployment.

Few benefits of a CI/CD pipeline include:

  • Efficient product development: Smaller iterations allow for easier and more efficient roll-out and testing. By limiting the scope of each sprint / iteration, as well as the scope to test it, makes it easier to find and fix bugs. Features are more readily evaluated for usefulness and user acceptance, and less useful features are easily adjusted before further development.
  • Build competitive products: Traditional product development approaches can take months, and the specifications and requirements may fail to meet ever-changing user needs and expectations. CI/CD development can readily adapt to new and changing requirements. It enables developers to implement changes in subsequent iterations. Product features developed using CI/CD can reach market faster and with more customer success.
  • Fail faster and improve:. CI/CD’s rapid cyclicality enables developers to experiment with innovative coding styles and algorithms with far less risk. If an experimental approach doesn’t work out, it won’t make it to production and can be undone in the next rapid iteration. The potential for improving products by infusing new technologies for competitive innovation is a powerful driver for organizations to use CI/CD.
  • Better maintenance: Bugs can take weeks or months to fix in traditional software development, but the constant flow of a CI/CD pipeline makes it easier to address and fix bugs faster and with better confidence. The product is more stable and reliable over time.
  • Better operations support. Regular software releases keep operations staff in tune with the software’s requirements and monitoring needs. Administrators are better able to deploy software updates and handle rollbacks with fewer deployment errors and needless troubleshooting. Similarly, IT automation technologies can help speed deployments while reducing setup or configuration errors.

Attributes of a good CD/CD pipeline:

Here are few common characteristics of a good CI/CD process:

  • Speed: Typically a CI/CD pipeline will have multiple steps – integration, testing, delivery and even deployment. But a milestone or build should be able to move through the pipeline in a reasonable time. It may take just few minutes to complete an integration, and a couple of hours for testing cycles to finish. If it takes days to push a build, then the process needs to be reworked.
  • Consistency: The processes and components used in one place or cycle are exactly the same in all places and cycles. For example, if a build results in a Docker container, that container is the object that’s tested and moved through the pipeline to delivery or deployment. Developers can write scripts and create automation processes to deliver the desired results every time. Processes that introduce variations or manual steps slow the pipeline and invite errors and inefficiency.
  • Tight version control: Well-documented repositories allow rapid restoration of previous builds when builds or deployments go awry. Good version control facilitates fast, accurate and confident rollbacks — perhaps to the previous working version — whenever the need arises.
  • Automation: Extensive automation moves new code through integration, testing and delivery or deployment with little, if any, manual interaction. Ideally, a human does little more than develop and commit code, then wait for an approved pull request and approval before a deployment, if needed. A pipeline that depends on manual steps and processes is slow and prone to errors.
  • Integrated feedback loops: CI/CD pipeline is a loop that yields countless iterative steps to a completed project — and each phase also offers a loop back to the beginning. A problem with the source code won’t generate a build. A problem with the build won’t move into testing. And a problem in testing or after deployment will demand source fixes. The sooner a problem is identified, the faster, easier and cheaper it is to fix, keeping the overall pipeline in motion.
  • Security throughout: Oversights and mistakes in programming and testing can create vulnerabilities. It may expose software to malicious activity. Thus, it is critical to infuse security best practices throughout the CI/CD pipeline. Tools such as vulnerability checkers can help spot potential security flaws in the code flowing through the pipeline, while additional security evaluations should take place during the testing phase.

Source: This article first appeared on TechTarget

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