Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) is a set of practices that allow development teams to deliver high-quality code quickly and efficiently. These practices are essential for businesses, as they can streamline their software development processes, speed up the time-to-market for their products, and maintain a competitive edge.
CI/CD has been the industry standard for more than 8 years, however, development teams in Start-ups can sometimes overlook the important aspects of this process due to a lack of resources. Due to this they may waste time and effort on manual work like testing and versioning.
What Is CI And CD?
Continuous integration is a DevOps technique for developing software in which developers merge their code revisions into a common repository on a frequent basis, following which automated builds and tests are done. Continuous integration has two aspects, automation (e.g., a CI or build service) and cultural change (eg. learning to integrate frequently). Integrating the “build’ and “test” phases of development lead to faster build times and detection of bugs early.
CD can stand for Continuous Delivery as well as Continuous Deployment, while both are similar, there is a key difference. Delivery refers to ensuring that the code is ready to be deployed to a staging environment, a production environment, or both. According to experts’ deployment is a business and not a technical decision, the point of CD is to ensure that every code version is ready to be deployed, this decision to deploy is then applied using automated tooling. It is necessary that not all changes in the code are committed to production after testing.
Using version control tools like Git and Jenkins it is possible to manage code immediately and ensure smooth deployment. Continuous deployment involves creating a deployment pipeline with automated steps for building, testing and deployment into staging and production environment. The goal for CD is to reduce the risks of human error and improve collaboration between Development and Operations.
CI/CD is an integral part of the modern development and operations process. By having DevOps teams, Start-ups can be sure that their product gets faster time to market and is secure and well-managed.
Best CI/CD Practices
Here are the 10 CI/CD best practices that startups should follow to achieve success in their software development endeavors.
1. Maintain a single repository
Continuous Integration (CI) requires key practices for effectiveness, including maintaining a single source repository for files, using a good source code management system such as Subversion, and putting everything required for a build in the repository. It is also recommended to keep IDE configurations in the repository for sharing purposes. However, it is important to keep the use of branches to a minimum and store in source control only what is needed to build anything.
2. Start small and iterate
Startups should begin by implementing a basic CI/CD pipeline, taking small steps involves deconstructing the steps and adding complexity as the DevOps process is better understood.
The highest priority is usually given to automating the most important tasks, such as building and testing code. As the team becomes more comfortable with the process, they can gradually add more tasks, such as deployment and monitoring and advanced testing techniques. By starting with the CI pipeline, startups can avoid overwhelming their team members and ensure that their code is functioning optimally at each stage of development.
3. Use version control
Version control is a crucial tool for managing the software development process. It enables teams to track changes to the codebase, collaborate more effectively, and roll back changes if necessary. Developers should use a version control system such as Git, Subversion and Mercurial which allows them to easily create branches, merge code changes, and manage multiple versions of the codebase simultaneously. Devs should first update their working copy on their local machine, resolve conflicts and test the build, after the testing they must commit to the main branch. By doing this, developers commit every few hours, a conflict may be discovered within a few hours of its occurrence;
4. Automate testing
Automating testing is critical to reducing manual work, it enables teams to detect bugs and other issues early in the development cycle, which can save time and resources in the long run. Startups should automate as many tests as possible, including unit tests, integration tests, and end-to-end tests. This helps avoid human errors and inconsistent testing, once a build is tested and ready to deliver, it must be pushed to production through automation.
5. Build in security from the start
Security should be a top priority for startups from the very beginning of the software development process. By building security measures into the code from the start, teams can avoid costly security breaches down the line. Startups should use secure coding practices, such as input validation and data sanitization, and implement security testing as part of their CI/CD pipeline.
Set up role-based security controls (that is, who can do what and when). It’s also best practice to give everyone on the team access and to include metrics and monitor them throughout the product’s life cycle.
6. Use containers for deployment
Microservices-based architecture has always gone hand in hand with CI/CD. Containers, such as Docker, provide a lightweight and portable way to package software and its dependencies. Startups should use containers for deployment, as they make it easy to move code between development, testing, and production environments. Containers also help to ensure consistency across different environments, which can reduce the risk of deployment errors. EKS and ECS are two container orchestration services from AWS that are used by a vast majority of DevOps engineers.
7. Have two environments
One best practice in CI/CD is to have two environments, a staging environment and a production environment. This approach is also known as a “two-tier” deployment process. The staging environment is a pre-production environment where code changes are tested before being deployed to the production environment. The staging environment allows teams to test code changes in a controlled environment, where any issues or bugs can be identified and addressed before the code is deployed to production. The production environment is the environment where the live application runs and is accessed by end-users.
8. Implement code reviews
Code reviews are done while building a new feature, testing automation and implementing bug fixes. They enable team members to identify and correct issues before the code is deployed. Code review can be streamlined using testing tools like GitHub, Bitbucket and GitLab. Automating the code review process is also possible by using reporting and troubleshooting tools like SonalQube, ESlint, FindBugs etc for static code analysis and there are more options in automated code analysis.
9. Maintain documentation
Documentation is often overlooked in the software development process, but it is essential for ensuring that code can be understood and maintained over time. Startups should maintain documentation for all code changes, including code comments, user manuals, and technical specifications. This can help to ensure that team members can easily understand the code and make changes as needed.
10. Monitor your pipeline
Measure the metrics that matter, number of builds, deployments and average time for changes to reach production, time taken to complete a pipeline, average build time, and number of revisions to production. This will help compare and analyze the performance of infrastructure over time in relation to the CI/CD process.
Collaboration Is key
Team collaboration is a critical component of successful Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) practices for startups. CI/CD is a software development approach that emphasizes the integration of code changes into a shared codebase, followed by continuous testing and deployment of those changes to production.
In a startup environment, where speed and agility are crucial, effective team collaboration is essential for delivering high-quality software products quickly and efficiently. This is because startup teams typically work in small, cross-functional groups, with each member contributing unique skills and expertise to the project.
To implement successful CI/CD practices, startups must prioritize team collaboration at all stages of the development process. This includes encouraging open communication and collaboration between team members, using collaborative tools and platforms for managing code changes and tracking progress, and fostering a culture of shared ownership and responsibility for the project’s success.
Effective team collaboration also requires clear and transparent communication channels, regular meetings and check-ins, and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement. By working collaboratively, startup teams can identify and resolve issues quickly, share knowledge and expertise, and achieve faster and more reliable delivery of high-quality software products.
IAMOPS is an IT services company that provides customized DevOps and QA solutions for startups. IAMOPS provides customized DevOps and 24/7 Monitoring solutions for start-ups and high-growth companies in Israel and the United States. They work with tech startups across various industries, including finance, telecom, entertainment, health, technology, education, defense, and security.
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