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Role of CI/CD in Agile & DevOps

With more businesses resorting to automation technologies, handling the huge repertoire of codes is becoming big. As both large and small companies are using agile software for technological advancements, CI/CD is taking the front seat.

CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery/Deployment, which are two of the important methods to come up with rapid changes in the software interfaces through agile. With the ongoing digital transformation, all the businesses are trying to amp up their game online by providing high-quality services. With too many competitors around, the need to constantly respond to users’ demands is also at its peak, failing which, it is hard to thrive in the market.

To overcome this problem and deliver quickly high-quality, easy-to-use application interfaces, continuous integration, and continuous delivery/deployment are being paired up with agile. With continuous integration, we now have quick remedies for bugs or interface changes. Continuous development/deployment allows timely delivery of high-quality application changes as per the needs and demands of the businesses.

Let’s take a simple example of a team using Google sheets instead of individually working on excel. With Google sheets every activity of an individual can be recorded, seen, and even edited by others.

On the other hand, if users use excel separately, then the entire process of sharing, editing, and delivering the required output as a team becomes a hectic process. In a similar context, one gets to know about CI/CD in detail, and it helps understand the role of CI/CD in agile project management and the connection of CI/CD in the product development process.

What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous Integration allows software developers to constantly integrate newer codes or re-code the existing ones after short time intervals. The repertoire of CI stores all the additions and changes in codes for future reference thus allowing developers to quickly make, remove or remake codes as and when required in the process of software development.

Within a team of developers, everyone is free to make important changes and make a refurbished build. Following this, a CI automated system immediately tests the build and eventually compiles it to store into the repertoire. As CI is a daily/hourly process, it enables the developers to speedily make newer changes and integrate them into the software.

What is Continuous Delivery/Deployment?

Right at the point where CI ends, the process of continuous delivery begins. The stack of new codes developed at the continuous integration stage and stored in the coding repertoire is now ready to be released for production. Any minor bug fixes or quality testing is done by the operations team before finally releasing it to the user. 

In the delivery stage, the APIs and software are tested manually and automatically. Thereafter, the DevOps team manually sends the build to the last stage which is called the Continuous Deployment stage. 

In the Continuous Deployment stage, the codes approved and pushed through by the DevOps team are re-checked and re-tested to ensure validity in a pre-production environment. Once these happen with full clarity, the codes get automatically released to the production stage for the end-users. Thus, CD, involving both Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment are in the final stages of checking and rechecking the codes manually and automatically before the product is out for final use.

CI/CD Pipeline

Now that we know CI/CD, let’s see how they enable the Agile DevOps team to deliver reliable software. When Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery/Deployment is occurring simultaneously in real-time, the chain of processes performed altogether is known as the CI/CD pipeline. With this, developers can build, enhance, and update newer features in software in very less time and at lower risks.

In the CI/CD pipeline model, the work of integration begins first. Here, the developers constantly build, enhance, or update the source codes according to the changes required in the software. Once CI is over, the new build moves on to the delivery stage in the pipeline.

Thereafter, the code gets both manually (continuous delivery) and automatically (continuous deployment) tested and checked for quality assurance. At the final stage of the pipeline, the semi-automated product is released for production.

Phases of CI/CD Pipeline

CI/CD pipeline is linked to CI/CD and the product development process starting from newer code integration to deploying the end product to the final user. The connection is as follows: 

    • Source Stage: When a developer tries to modify an existing code or give newer inputs to the software, the existing CI/CD pipeline gets triggered & starts accepting them to the code repository.
    • Build Stage: At this stage, the source code is unified/integrated with the newer codes to build workable software for the users. If the build experiences fail in the integration stage, it means there are configuration problems that need to be addressed.
  • Test Stage: The code build goes through a series of tests at every proceeding stage in the pipeline. The codes are tested, retested, and analyzed for quality several times through automated processes to be ready as the final output.
  • Deploy Stage: This is the last stage of the CI/CD pipeline where after the completion of tests and bug fixes (if any), the product is ready to be deployed into the server for end-users.

Benefits of CI/CD

With automation taking over the world of software development, CI/CD offer numerous benefits for developers. They are:

  • Time-saving: The connection of CI/CD to the product development platform has considerably reduced the amount of time required for deploying newer versions of software. Through automation in testing, the final deployment task has become so easy that it can be released minutes after the new codes are integrated.
  • Cost-effective: As the entire process of input and output via the CI/CD pipeline is short, the time and effort of several developers over days, months, and weeks have gone down thereby saving costs.
  • High-quality product: The final changes made in the software are bug-free with a top-notch user interface. Automated testing, integration, and deployment have improved the quality to a great extent.
  • Immediate feedback: Automation technologies give immediate feedback to the developer via email about the problem that has occurred at any stage of the pipeline. Also, there is no scope for proceeding to the next stage unless everything is perfectly fine in the present stage.
  • Early error detection & fixing: Automated testing has made error detection and fixing easy and hassle-free. Unlike traditional software, developers do not have to search for the source codes and then fix them. Everything is accessible for the developer’s team to make any changes.
  • Enhanced teamwork: As every developer in a team has access to the code repertoire, anyone can change code, fix errors, and respond to automated feedback.

Limitations of CI/CD

Connecting CI/CD to the product development platform is a hefty task. The major drawbacks of this model are:

  • Orthodoxy in behavioural change: Like most people, developers are wary of changes, especially in the codes they build.
  • Frequent checks: Hourly checks through coding and recoding isn’t a welcoming task.
  • Domino effect: As everything is linked with each other in the software, a minor imbalance in any code can disrupt the smooth functioning of the entire software.
  • Continuous supervision: Continuous modifications require continuous monitoring and feedback, and that becomes a problem.

Tools of CI/CD

To take advantage of the automated processes via CI/CD, the connection of CI/CD to the agile development model is made via several tools. Here is a list of some of the most-used CI/CD tools:

  • Jenkins: It is an open-source software enabling automated continuous integration. It is free to use and is written in Java. The deployment occurs faster right after an error-free build and test.
  • Bamboo: This software allows automated build, test, and deployment in the same place. The feature of pre-environment permission helps developers to foresee the end product.
  • CircleCi: It helps in minimizing the occurrence of bugs and assures greater quality. It automatically dismantles existing builds when any newer builds come as inputs.
  • GitLab: It helps in storing and accessing all the data in the CI/CD pipeline easily.

What is agile development? Connection of CI/CD to agile methodology

Agile development is a recent innovation in the field of software development, especially for customer-centric businesses. As hourly interactions occur in such online platforms, it is important to keep up with the growing customer demands in a competitive market. 

Creating and constantly modifying online software and platforms have become a burgeoning need with the fast-paced changes in digital transformation. Agile methods enable disciplined collaboration and the working of self-organized teams for iterative software development.

To bring in the element of automated continuation in changes, the role of CI/CD in agile development has gained importance. The role of CI/CD in agile project management has combined the processes of continuous integration and deployment with faster changes in the software. So is CI/CD part of agile? Yes, CI/CD enhances the output speed, owing to its automation in integration, testing, and deployment.

What is DevOps? Connection of CI/CD to the product development process

DevOps stands for software development and operations. The DevOps team collectively is responsible for the creation, maintenance, and final deployment operations of software. 

Now, what is CI/CD in DevOps? As more businesses are adopting agile development methodologies for delivering software, the DevOps team builds the connection of CI/CD to the product development platform. This connection of CI/CD to the agile development model brings down the time taken to produce newer and enhanced versions of software. 

Continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment act as important tools for DevOps to take forward the agile development methodologies. Hence, the role of CI/CD in agile development is an important step forward to enjoy the benefits of automation and collaborative working of the DevOps team.

To sum up, CI/CD stands for continuous integration and continuous development in software development. So what is continuous integration? It is the ongoing evolution of putting in newer codes to the existing source code for continuously revolutionizing the software interface.

On the other hand, continuous delivery/deployment is the testing and the final delivery of the developed/improvised software for public use. The role of CI/CD in agile development performed by the DevOps team develops a sense of team collaboration and ownership.

As the demand for DevOps professionals is rising exponentially, we can gauge the connection of CI/CD to the product development model. Learning agile methodologies along with CI/CD operations opens up huge scope for high-paying jobs.

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