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Developing high-quality and modern software products quickly and economically requires substantial expertise and know-how of the nitty-gritty of the CI/CD pipeline. Such knowledge not only helps in developing products that deliver value and meet customers’ demands; it also helps in clearing hurdles that may arise along the software development process. Therefore, understanding why CI/CD matters and how to do it right is critical to creating future-proof and scalable products.

The importance of the CI/CD pipeline

The success of cutting-edge software products doesn’t end with launching the first version in the market. Teams need to constantly work towards delivering updates and upgrades to keep up with evolving security, reliability, availability, and scalability needs.

The CI/CD pipeline acts as the perfect foundation for those looking to deliver a new product – or a new version of it. By using a DevOps or site reliability engineering approach, it sets the continuous monitoring and automation ball rolling, so the quality and delivery of software can be improved (and maintained).

For DevOps-driven organizations, the CI/CD pipeline plays a central role in continuously integrating code into a central repository and make sure it is ready to be checked into production. Since it enables continuous upgrades through faster response to evolving needs, the benefits CI/CD brings to the table are many:

  • Teams can quickly and easily make smaller code changes while restricting the volume and velocity of unintended consequences.
  • Because code is developed in small iterations, elapsed time to detect and correct issues is shorter, and fault isolation is simpler and quicker.
  • It allows teams to improve code quality by incorporating feedback not just from users but also from other team members, thus increasing transparency and accountability.
  • CI/CD also helps improve release rate because code is continuously being built and defects are continuously being fixed.
  • Since a lot of the integration and delivery tasks are automated, developers can focus on tasks that have high strategic value

Tips to get it right

In today’s highly volatile and uncertain business environment, embracing a CI/CD pipeline can open doors to several benefits across improved code quality, better fault detection, and faster time-to market. Here are some tips to do it right:

  • Be clear about the concept: Achieving success with CI/CD requires you to first have a clear and sound understanding of continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment. Thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the CI/CD process is what will set the stage for a robust and successful CI/CD pipeline.
  • Choose the right tools: The success of your CI/CD pipeline depends a lot on the tools you use; and given the variety of tools available in the market today, choosing the right ones can get difficult. To make the right selection, begin by first understanding your software development needs, evaluating your current CI/CD pipeline, assess the capabilities of different tools, and then choose those that best fit the needs of your business.
  • Focus on processes: Although embracing the right tools is a crucial aspect of CI/CD success, they are of no use if you do not have the right processes in place. Therefore, before you invest in modern tools, make sure you build and test the right processes that will help you in meeting your CI/CD goals and objectives.
  • Understand the significance of feedback: Your CI/CD pipeline should be like a well-oiled machine. Therefore, to ensure it works properly around the clock, you need to incorporate feedback as often and as quickly as possible. Since the core purpose of the CI/CD pipeline is to improve the quality and timeliness of code, make sure to continuously seek feedback and make changes to speed up delivery and improve the quality of your product.
  • Automate wherever possible: Given that the CI/CD pipeline comprises several distinct steps, embracing automation across as many tasks as possible will reduce the time spent performing repetitive tasks while establishing the fastest possible feedback loop and reducing the time taken to deliver value to customers.
  • Don’t be tempted by ad-hoc fixes: If your product needs a quick patch or update, don’t be tempted by ad-hoc fixes. Although such fixes might enable you to resolve the issue in the short term, skipping the CI/CD process will lead to far-reaching consequences. Instead of making fixes that are not merged with your codebase, make sure every change is applied inside of your pipeline to ensure uniform software quality and efficiency in the long run.
  • Don’t ignore security: Since the CI/CD pipeline enables easy access to your entire codebase and deployment processes, it is an easy target for attackers to inject malicious code, deploy malware, or steal proprietary code. To maintain security, embrace as many security tactics as possible: right from VPNs and access control systems, to encryption and authentication to ensure your code is protected 24×7.

Creating a robust CI/CD pipeline can save teams a lot of pain, time, and money. But given the various elements, getting it right is not a cakewalk. To make sure you get maximum returns from your CI/CD effort, embracing these tips can help in substantially reducing time spent on repetitive tasks, improving the feedback loop, and ensuring a higher quality product.

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