Expert opinion

CI/CD: How to Minimize Risks and Accelerate Development

3 minutes

Sergey Zinkevich

CI/CD has been trending over the recent years, though many remain skeptical about this practice. To gain greater insight into CI/CD, we will describe this practice and its use cases.

Gadget influence
CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery.

The CI/CD provides a unified automated software pipeline from development to deployment thus alleviating pains that developers of any profile or industry may suffer. We use this methodology in our development projects to improve testing cost efficiency and quickly spot functionality errors. Though there are those – Gartner, for example – who see nothing but hype in this practice, but we, doers, believe that CI/CD is an actionable approach of the future.

Active employment of the methodology was triggered by wide adoption of gadgets that ramped up the number of all kinds of their software. A new client application is created every day, if not every hour. The numbers tell the story of app stores' recent years well: in 2018, the number of apps in Google Play increased by a third, amounting to 3.6 million. This inevitably changed the software development speed criteria globally. Needless to say that coding a smartphone app is absolutely different from developing a system of operational banking day for a very specific credit organization. Previously, a programmer team spent months, if not years to develop, deploy, and debug such a system. Today, a customer wants its business to make a quantum leap just like apps on its personal gadget are updated. Without CI/CD any acceleration would result in such a "raw" banking day system that it could jeopardize banking operations – the core business.

Obviously, the gap between expectations and reality could not last forever, because sooner or later, this situation would reach a breaking point. Therefore, the market kicked up IT industry to invent CI/CD, a practice allowing to eliminate numerous errors during software development through complete automation: product teams write code independently from one another and send the code to a version control system, and then the code is automatically assembled, installed on a test bench, and tested. After that, a tester gets super usable results. A similar automated work algorithm is used when a system is deployed in the production environment, which brings us to Continuous Integration (CI).

Automated deployment
Continuous Delivery (CD) helps find bugs and automate deployment to deliver new releases automatically, without manual installation. This approach dramatically accelerates time to market, therefore, those providing services to thousands or even millions of users truly appreciate it. In other words, developers are offered a tool kit to roll out updates using special processes rather than manually. Moreover, they can quickly roll everything back if something goes wrong. DevOps engineers play a special role here, as they are responsible for organizing and streamlining the delivery processes of new releases – a delicate line between operation and development – and usually have experience in both.

CI/CD have already influenced the change of both software architecture and approach to IT development organization itself. Vendors work faster and better. Months' work is now done within days, without sacrificing product quality. Therefore, CI/CD is not about hype. It's about breaking through to a new reality.

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