It’s not easy building a startup. In a budding company where time, money and resources are strictly limited, every decision, big or small, has its consequences. And choosing the right approach to software development is no exception. Continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD) and continuous deployment (CD) are the software engineering practices startups should consider. Especially when they find out that the continuous development methodology could reduce development costs by up to 40%. Let’s have a closer look at these concepts to find out how you can implement the ‘continuous’ practices for your startup.
Differences Between Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment
In the last 30 years, software development methodologies and practices have changed. Each new approach has become more lightweight, less rigid and more focused on business value rather than the development process itself.
In recent years, DevOps has become one of the most strongly trending practices in software development, preaching faster and more frequent releases. And it seems as if it’s here to stay: in its 2015 DevOps adoption study, Gartner points out that 29% of organizations are already using a DevOps approach to IT, and 31% more are planning to implement it in the next couple of years.
The comprehensive 2014 State of DevOps Report found that the adoption of DevOps practices allows code to be deployed 30 times more frequently with 50% fewer failures. It has also proved that high IT performance makes companies more agile and reliable and correlates with strong business performance.
DevOps offers shortened delivery cycles through automation, and that’s what continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD) and continuous deployment (CD) are here for. Let’s take a closer look at these approaches and their benefits.
Continuous integration (CI), probably the most popular of the DevOps approaches, is a software development method that requires developers to integrate software into the main code base regularly.
Remember the olden days when the code was written and integrated for testing once a month? After testing, developers had to fix the bugs, errors and ‘features’ in the month-old code, which could also influence the code written a week ago. Clearly, this approach leads to poor performance.
Here’s where CI steps in. It allows merging the code of multiple developers several times a week, every day or even after every change – the frequency depends only on your project’s particular needs. But the best part is that critical bugs can be found almost immediately after the code change has been committed. With continuous integration, pieces of software are verified by an automated build and automated tests that ensure accurate code execution.
Benefits of Continuous Integration
- Pinpoints the exact place an error has occurred, allowing for faster feedback on the fulfilment of the existing code.
- Merges the code as often and as simply as possible to reduce the time it takes to release it into production.
- Helps to save costs as any bugs discovered can be fixed right away.
- Code works properly and is ready to be deployed at any moment thanks to automated testing.
- Increased developer productivity, better collaboration and more transparent development teams.
When CI Won’t Work
In some cases during the very first stage of building a prototype or a proof of concept, using CI might not be the best idea. However, this is a small trade-off you make at the beginning to save more time with automation in the future.
Continuous delivery (CD) is an approach that allows building and testing software in shorter cycles so that it can be released anytime. This means that the code must always be in a deployable state. Whenever it is decided to push the code into production, a developer has to do this manually.
Benefits of Continuous Delivery
- Reduces the time for routine processes and allows developers to focus on the quality of code.
- Improved teamwork since all members can see changes as soon as they appear.
- Allows a business to stay competitive by releasing new features to end-users more often.
- The code is released to production manually only when all stakeholders are satisfied with the changes.
When CD Won’t Work
If you don’t need to publish your releases frequently or are willing to do it manually, CD won’t be your best fit. You can also skip this approach when you don’t have users demanding quick updates or a product owner who needs to check the results of your work regularly. And finally, using CD is pointless when there are no other team members, like testers, to check your work.
Continuous deployment (CD) is a process quite similar to continuous delivery, but the changes to the code are deployed to production automatically without any human interference. The goal is to minimise the delay in releasing new features and fixes. However, it requires that CI and CD are already among your regular practices. Automated testing with good coverage should ensure that you don’t fall into a ‘hotfix’ loop where you’re automatically deploying bugs alongside the fixes.
Benefits of continuous deployment:
- A focus on the project’s business needs since new features are available for immediate release, and every change goes directly into production.
- Instant feedback from all stakeholders (from investors to end-users).
- Cuts down manual tasks, speeding up developers’ efficiency.
- Less human interaction – fewer human errors.
When and How Should You Use CI/CD?
So, we’ve covered the differences between continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment. Now, let’s find out how and when you should implement these approaches.
The ‘how’ part is easy. Usually, companies use Amazon Web Services or open-source systems like Jenkins, GitLab, Buildbot, Drone, or Bamboo from Atlassian to handle CI/CD.
When should you use CI/CD, you ask? Always! Almost. You are well aware that the speed and productivity of developers are worth their weight in gold. Complicated processes and manual procedures result in more time to deliver your product. That’s why implementing CI/CD could be a great idea for your startup.
If your users demand quick and frequent updates, your developers do a lot of repetitive manual work or the development team has several members, CI/CD is usually very helpful. It’s also of tremendous help if you have a big project with many team members, and you need to monitor their activities or make the development process clearer for everyone. Increased productivity, easier deployment and faster time to market are just a few of the benefits CI/CD can bring to your startup.
Still in doubt as to whether the ‘continuous’ approaches suit your startup’s needs? Don’t hesitate. Our entire ElifTech team is very fond of CI/CD. We assure you: taking the time to set up continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment processes in your company will give you more reliable, productive and secure software development and IT operations. It will require changing the technical processes and operational culture in your company; but if you work with professionals like ElifTech, the CI/CD services will be integrated into your startup’s operations seamlessly. Contact us now!