One way to build applications and consistently deliver high-quality software updates and changes to your users is to implement a CI/CD pipeline. CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. Continuous Integration (CI) implements small changes and frequently checks in code version control repositories by pushing development teams through a coding philosophy and set of practices.
Picking up where CI ends, continuous delivery automates the delivery of applications to select environments in the infrastructure. For example, dev teams often work with multiple environments in addition to production, including development or testing environments. CD allows for an automated way to push code changes to these environments.
Once you implement and optimize your CI/CD pipeline, you and your team will discover many benefits.
The productivity of your dev team is sure to improve. Surveys have shown an increase in time and resources being put towards code and team improvement. There is also a greater opportunity and capability for feedback and collaboration, which results in improved quality by contributors.
Applications built in a CI/CD pipeline have fewer software defects and bugs, according to testers. Continuous testing and automated integration tests lead to drastic improvements to testing, which means more bugs are caught before an application is launched.
A CD pipeline is automated and able to adapt to multiple cloud environments. It is also fast and easy to implement a CI/CD pipeline with serverless architectures and Kubernetes.
A CI/CD pipeline allows for more frequent code deployments with less risk. Fewer resources are also required. In fact, new applications and code can be onboarded in less than a day.
There are several stages of a CI/CD pipeline. There is building the code, infrastructure, testing, release strategies, and validation. When building an application, testing is a must-have. For organizations and development teams using CI/CD pipelines, testing happens continuously to ensure that quality applications and code are being delivered to users. A development team will typically have more than one development and testing environment to test and review changes to the application.
This tests the application’s source code by scanning the code for patterns that could impact the code’s quality, reliability, and security. It reports practices that could open a security hole in your application.
It’s a great first step to execute because it applies the ‘fail fast’ pattern. The test runs quickly and can detect errors which could generate issues later on in the pipeline. Waiting to find these issues in the pipeline could take minutes or even hours in some cases. It’s much better to do a static code analysis first.
Once your code is completed, you can run unit tests. These tests execute different functions of your application individually to detect specific mistakes. Expecting some outputs to be validated, unit tests call functions with certain inputs.
This is the test you will run when your application is up and running in a test environment. Automated tests are executed to perform automated actions just like a real user and to detect functional errors. Smoke tests are used to validate a subset of the application as a whole, to detect specific errors such as connection to databases, cache services, etc.
Current software development relies on tens or even hundreds of third-party dependencies from libraries to modules and more. These modules are usually developed by different authors. The security community will disclose vulnerabilities around these modules at an almost constant rate. Tracking them manually is nearly impossible. However, there is tooling that will scan your code, dependencies, and check with external sources for any disclosed security issues. These tools will notify you to upgrade or mitigate the impact of vulnerabilities in other ways.
Containers are the de facto industry standard. They are the packaging method and the usual way to run applications in the cloud. You run the risk of having flaws in containers due to base images, third-party software, or other bad practices that can affect the reliability and security of your applications.
Using a CI/CD pipeline means you can thoroughly test your application or code. You’ll rest assured knowing that by the time you launch, users are getting the most resilient, robust, and secure product on the market.
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