Startups, young businesses and companies seeking fast growth often face serious IT project risks that may halt development or even force them to close down. We addressed that issue in another article (A fast-growing business is like walking off a cliff – how to avoid a painful landing?) and today we will discuss a few typical project issues that can be prevented by an effective CI/CD process.
Before you read on, perhaps you’d like to test the maturity of your CI/CD process right now? Take a short interactive quiz and diagnose the level of automation in your team!
Modern software development needs to be fast and deliver high quality products if a business is not to lose out in the technology race. Today, companies often choose to deliver their apps to users on a shortened timeline, and then go on to modify and develop them in a continuous manner. In order to do so, however, they first need to overcome a few hurdles that may put the brakes on software development and adversely affect their projects.
If you are facing the following problems in your developer team:
- The system works differently in different programming environments (and you keep hearing the words: “it seems to work fine for me!”);
- The time gap between changing the code and implementing the change in the environment seems to be endless;
- The app is unstable and you struggle to isolate the cause of the problem;
- You keep stumbling on errors and delays when implementing new functions;
- You need to perform manual testing;
- You have security problems with your solution;
- You notice that the quality of the code is low.
It might be high time to implement Continuous Development processes.
What is the CI/CD process and what are its benefits?
CI (Continuous Integration) and CD (Continuous Delivery) guidelines are part of the DevOps methodology, which includes a set of good practices for IT project work.
Continuous Development processes
- The objective of CI is to develop an automated app building and testing process.
- The team introduces and tests changes to the main code line as often as possible.
- The key aspect of CD resides in the automated delivery of any code changes to all the environments used in the project.
- The delivery to production may be automated or manual, depending on the risk level involved in any given project.
- The objective of CI/CD is to deliver high-quality code as fast as possible, which calls for a continuous testing process.
- Testing is automated as an integral part of the CI/CD pipeline.
In recent years, there has been a lot of excitement about the CI/CD pipeline, since its implementation allows you to automate some elements of a project. Businesses have spotted an excellent opportunity to deliver their software faster; and who wouldn’t want to save time? In this way, maintaining continuity and automation throughout the code development process has become a really attractive option.
After all, CI/CD processes have many advantages:
- They reduce the time gap between code writing and its delivery to production;
- They improve the delivery of functions for testing and integration;
- They help identify code issues and discrepancies faster so that you can fix the solution or phase it out;
- They enable automated testing, allowing your team to work on the app in a continuous mode and constantly improve its quality;
- They increase the productivity of developer teams, which no longer need to wait for the final testing phase.
Continuous Development processes allow you to enhance your apps in a continuous fashion and implement new ideas and functionalities at a faster rate. Companies that have a mature CI/CD pipeline and keep their digital products in a Continuous Product Design phase stand the greatest chance of maintaining their position as industry leaders.
Why don’t companies use the CI/CD process?
Considering the advantages of CD tools and related solutions, you would expect all businesses to introduce Continuous Delivery as a standard in their projects. In practice, however, not many businesses use the opportunity for continuous software integration, delivery and implementation.
What are the biggest obstacles to CD implementation in companies?
- Developer teams have low levels of DevOps experience;
- Teams are used to routine procedures and prefer manual tasks. They are worried that automation would make them “lose” work;
- There is a fear that errors may end up being introduced into project environments;
- Some believe that an easier and faster solution is to introduce bigger changes at less frequent intervals;
- The management/clients do not understand that even though it may initially involve higher costs and delay project start dates, the implementation of the CI/CD process will eventually pay dividends.
How to create solutions that grow along with the business?
You can easily do so if you understand the threats involved in an extensive IT project and nip them in the bud. Apps that are hard to develop, unstable, full of errors and, with time, begin to hinder your business often stem from a lack of software building experience and ineffective project patterns. In order to make sure we provide the client with really flexible and secure solutions, we have developed our own project framework, known as Software as a Journey, which builds on our many years of experience in running projects for large companies in the enterprise sector.
SaaJ guides us through each project, eliminates risks and ensures that even the most complex systems no longer pose a challenge. Importantly, it includes all the three processes of Continuous Development:
- Continuous Integration – a shared repository of code, to which small changes can be committed more often (every programmer does so at least once per day). The code is compiled and tested after each change (unit and integration testing);
- Continuous Delivery – in an automated process, we build packages containing the products of Continuous Integration, which are then ready to be deployed in any environment. We also run functional tests or, for instance, pre-generated acceptance tests;
- Continuous Deployment – we carry out an automated deployment in a target environment. The code stays intact but the configuration is changed.
Continuous Deployment can be understood as complementing Continuous Delivery, because they only differ at the last stage. Importantly, not all projects include automated deployment to production; some client procedures require a manual approach, so we always agree on a way to proceed beforehand.
Thanks to this approach:
- We can quickly introduce and phase out changes. There is rarely a need to phase them out at the production stage;
- Our teams continuously work on reducing the cycle, as well as identify and analyse associated risks;
- We can carry out an automated code analysis with tools such as SonarQube or Checmarx;
- New versions are frequent and automated;
- We have a configuration management policy.
Software as a Journey:
Want to be sure your cooperation with a software house will go fine? Check out the possibilities of our framework based on our project for Hyundai Glovis.
What are the risks of not implementing Continuous Development?
A mature CI/CD pipeline speeds up your work and enables efficient software development, ensuring app security, stability and high performance. Its tools also help standardise the code and ensure its good quality, which reduces your technical debt.
Going without the components of Continuous Development exposes your business to all the risks mentioned in the first section of this article and increases the likelihood of technical debt. Delays and problems are likely to become so serious that the business may soon begin to grow faster than its product. New clients will come, new needs and new errors will be discovered, but production will remain unable to handle the amount of required changes, thus putting the brakes on your business growth.
Want your software to be in step with your business growth?