• 4 Compelling Business Benefits of CI/CD

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    Waterfall, Agile, and now DevOps – the most sought-after approach to building great mobile apps. The old methods of software development and delivery have now become passe.

    Gone are the days when companies deployed software in annual, quarterly, or even monthly releases. Moving over to DevOps practices, software is deployed weekly, daily, or even multiple times a day without disturbing the user journey.

    With DevOps, the software lifecycle has been shortened considerably by incorporating automation in the end-to-end process of the delivery pipeline. It is essential to note that collaboration and communication are key, as businesses will not be able to accelerate by depending on an out-of-date software deployment process.

    What Automation Is

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    When it comes to software development in recent years, several changes have taken place. Be it reviewing the code, testing it, ensuring confidentiality and security, and deployment, the automation process reduces the effort of development and deployment teams considerably.

    Automation is the need of the hour. Not only does it save time but also requires minimal human intervention, which, in effect, reduces the chances of system failure.

    How Automation Helps in Improving Code Quality

    Though the writing of code still requires human intervention, the building and deployment of applications can be automated. As building an app is a time-consuming process, using tools to expedite the process is the key.

    Automated pipelines reduce manual intervention and lead to eventual savings since resources are more expensive than tools. The upfront investment can cause concern in inexperienced leadership; however, well-designed automated pipelines enable organizations to innovate better and faster to meet their customers’ needs.

    DevOps Automation is broadly divided into – Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, (CI/CD) and Continuous Deployment.

    So, what are these Approaches and How Do they work?

    Let’s delve into them further.

    Continuous integration (CI) attempts to increase the quality of the code by testing, reviewing, and running test cases automatically. This is carried out at regular intervals each day, all with the purpose of detecting integration bugs. This facilitates a more collaborative approach when enhancing code quality and provides failure and success reports of the code in real time as well.

    Continuous Delivery (CD) aims at minimizing the visibly weak areas during the deployment or release processes. Here, the implementation entails automating the steps for software deployments so that a code can be released securely and at any time.

    Continuous Deployment involves automation at a high level, where a deployment or a build is automated when a code undergoes a major change.

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    A basic deployment pipeline

    The approaches above constitute what is known as a delivery pipeline. Every piece of software undergoes a complex process until its release: building the software, monitoring the progress through testing, and deployment. All this would not be possible without the collaboration between teams and other individuals. The deployment pipeline follows this process of continuous integration and software release as it moves from one version to the next in a progressive manner via tests and deployments.

    Business Benefits of CI/CD

    The CI/CD approach largely offers the following benefits to businesses:

    Faster Software Builds

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    As we know “time is money,” therefore, integrating CI and CD will result in faster builds and deliver quicker results. With deployments running in continuous cycles, this will enable you to track the project and provide feedback in real-time, as well as fix shortcomings with your team whenever necessary. With consistent reviews, the product will see more refinement, and be more in tandem with the end-users’ expectations.

    Thus, with this automated mechanism, your team will be able to receive quicker test results for their product build and see their product deployed faster and at any time.

    Time-to-Market

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    By deploying your app to the market in time, this would not only engage your customers better, but would also assure profits, support pricing, and advance market goals as well. Therefore, focusing on time-to-market would not only make you well equipped to adapt to the changes in the market but would scale up your mobile app too, which would positively affect your ROI!

    Adopting to time-to-market is more likely to bring success in software deployment ahead of market demands or users’ expectations. Therefore, time-to-market, as an indicator of profitability, may increase your ROI considerably.

    On the other hand, there is also another line of thought, running parallel to this, which is the view that reducing time-to-market also stands to gain significantly as it:

    Therefore, with reduced time-to-market, businesses can be confident that their software will release well before market changes or users’ ever-rising demands.

    Improvements to Code Quality

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    This will help build a high-quality app. CI allows developers to integrate their code into a common repository. With the help of this repository, developers can share their builds multiple times a day rather than working in isolation. In turn, this will help reduce integration costs, as developers can share their builds in a more frequent manner. For example, a developer may encounter conflicts between new and existing code while integrating. If these conflicts are addressed in real-time, then it will be easier to carry out the decided upon resolution.

    However, the catch is that such fixes rely heavily on manual processes ensuring that new code does not bring in new bugs or break the existing code. To minimize such friction, CI facilitates automated tests. Not only does this save on time but requires minimal human intervention, thus reducing the chances of system failure.

    Efficient Developers

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    By incorporating CI, your development team becomes more bankable and the cost of your software projects is minimized.

    CI aims at refining the integration process, thus breaking it down into simple, daily development tasks, to help minimize the build costs and detect defects early in the software lifecycle.

    Supporting this is the continuous delivery (CD) process, where the software delivery process is further automated to facilitate easy deployments into production at any time. Thus, an efficient continuous delivery process displays a codebase that can be deployed anytime. Hence, the software is released on schedule. Owing to this benefit, your teams would effectively be able to execute daily development tasks and release software builds at any time.

    Also, success in CI is also dependent on your teams’ responsiveness to change – readiness, frequent software builds and iterations, and fixing bugs in real time.

    In a nutshell, by adopting the CI/CD approach, your business stands to gain the following:

    • Detect issues in software builds faster and, therefore, facilitating quicker resolutions
    • End-user involvement and feedback during continuous development can lead to usability improvements
    • Deliver software on time with faster time to market
    • Showcase your capability in the market, as you adopt the best approaches (CI/CD) for producing quality mobile apps
    • Forgo the stale periods in the lives of products
    • Back-to-back releases using CD are easy and less time-consuming
    • Share visibility of the development process in real-time

    Getting Started

    CI/CD benefits the app development cycle considerably and there is no contesting it, with the myriad benefits we have discussed. Additionally, with digitization, there are cloud-based options such as Circle CI and Travis CI available, which facilitate building and releasing quality apps quicker.

    Conclusion

    CI/CD is integral in software building and deployment: smaller teams, constant changes, fast and real-time feedback, and app deployment. Not only do they provide clear benefits to businesses but also to stakeholders such as product owners, development teams, and end-users, just to name a few.

    Every new invention or implementation in the system has to go through much debate to see the pros and cons as well as find benefits. The same applies to CI (continuous integration) and CD (continuous delivery) of the software. While the technology stakeholder may find CI/CD processes as additional tasks, once the CI/CD process stabilizes in an organization, it can lead to big advantages, such as reducing costs and increasing ROI.

    In addition, with automation, businesses will be able to invest more time in building better mobile apps.

    Therefore, CI/CD methodology facilitates building and improving great apps with faster time to market. Also, having a good automation allows for a more streamlined app development cycle, thus enabling one to get through the feedback cycle quicker and build better, more consistent apps.

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    Rajnish Kumar Sharma

    About the Author

    Rajnish Kumar Sharma is a Project Lead with over 11 years of experience in Microsoft Technologies. holds a Masters of Computer Applications (CS) degree. He loves to explore new technologies and to handle technical challenges. He is a part of Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Delivery (CD) and security initiatives at Net Solutions. In his spare time, he loves watching movies, playing cricket and is enthusiastic about travelling.

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