Continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) are two essential components of both Agile and DevOps toolchains that lead to successful software development. CI/CD helps ensure that code is always in a releasable state and that new features and bug fixes reach customers as quickly as possible.
What Is CI/CD and How Does It Work?
Continuous integration is the practice of merging all code changes into a shared mainline several times a day during the build or integration stage of development. As developers merge their code changes, they can run automated tests to detect and fix errors more quickly. This enables them to improve software quality and minimize the time it takes to verify and deliver updates. CI primarily prevents integration challenges that can occur when developers do not merge code changes for long periods.
Continuous delivery is an expansion of CI in which developers automatically deploy code changes into a testing or staging environment post-build. This process ensures development and operations teams have software artifacts that have passed through standardized, continuous testing and are ready for deployment after the build stage. With CD, teams can automatically test and deploy code changes quickly and always ensure a production-ready codebase.
What Are the Principles of CI/CD?
In every CI/CD campaign, there are four main principles:
1. Automate everything: The more you can automate, the less manual work is necessary and the faster your team can deliver new features and bug fixes.
2. Build-in quality: Developers should build quality into the software from the start, rather than as an afterthought. This means writing automated tests and performing code reviews as part of the development process.
3. Test early and often: By testing early and often, development and operations teams can source errors quickly and prevent them from integrating into the codebase.
4. Deploy frequently: The more regularly you deploy, the less risk there is with each deployment. This also enables customers to receive new features and bug fixes faster.
The Benefits of CI/CD
There are several benefits to using CI/CD in your software development projects, including:
- Faster delivery of new features and bug fixes
- Improved software quality
- Reduced risk
- Improved collaboration
Faster Delivery of New Features and Bug Fixes
By incorporating testing and deployment automation with CI/CD, you can deliver new code changes to customers faster. This means that they will get new features and bug fixes sooner, and you'll be able to respond to customer feedback more quickly. Overall, faster delivery times associated with CI/CD enable a shorter time to market, less development pressure, and satisfied customers—all of which enhance an organization’s unique value proposition (UVP) and competitive edge.
Improved Software Quality
By testing early and often with CI/CD, you can find errors quickly and prevent them from entering the codebase. This leads to fewer bugs in production and ensures software is performing and behaving correctly before getting into the customer’s hands.
Deploying code changes frequently reduces the risk of each deployment. This is because there is less code to deploy and test with each deployment. Additionally, if a problem occurs, it will be easier to identify and fix it quickly and efficiently.
When a developer alters a branch of code in isolation, there’s a high chance that their code changes will conflict with changes other developers are making simultaneously—which could result in a broken app. With CI/CD, however, developers can merge all code changes into one central mainline in real-time and validate them through automated testing. If there’s a conflict between updated and existing code, CI/CD makes it easier to source and mitigate that conflict before the software reaches the end-user.
How Does CI/CD Work?
There are four main steps in building a CI/CD pipeline:
1. Build: Store and package source code into an executable artifact.
2. Test: Insert artifact into an automated testing environment to validate code accuracy and behavior.
3. Deploy: Deploy artifact into a testing or staging environment (for development and operations teams) and a production environment (for end-users).
4. Monitor: Monitor application for errors and performance issues in deployment environments before an official release.
These four steps are typically repeated during code changes, ensuring that new code functions appropriately and successfully integrates into the codebase without breaking an app.
Why Do You Need a CI/CD Pipeline?
A CI/CD pipeline is essential for any software development or operations team that wants to automate the software delivery process. Using a CI/CD pipeline, developers can build software artifacts, run automated tests, and quickly source and mitigate errors within code. Additionally, developers can get bug-free code updates or new features into customers’ hands through continuous delivery pipeline management.
How Micro Focus ALM Octane Can Help with CI/CD
If you’re searching for a CI/CD tool that can streamline your CI/CD pipeline, Micro Focus ALM Octane can help. Micro Focus equipped ALM Octane with features that enable centralized and efficient software development planning, test management, release management, project traceability, and deep analytics. ALM Octane can help with your CI/CD pipeline in two primary ways:
1. It can help you automate the testing process by running tests automatically whenever code changes happen.
2. It provides a unified platform for managing your software development artifacts, including code changes, tests, and builds. This makes it easy to track everything happening in your project and quickly identify problems.
If you're looking for a CI/CD solution that can help improve the quality of your software and speed up the delivery of new features, Micro Focus ALM is an excellent option.
Ready to Automate CI/CD?
CI/CD is essential for any software development or operations team that wants to deliver new code changes quickly and efficiently. By automating the code merging, testing, and deployment process with tools like ALM Octane, you can easily source and mitigate source code errors, speed up the delivery of code changes or new features, and improve the overall quality of your software.
Discover how you can easily manage your CI/CD pipeline with ALM Octane today.