How can we automate CI CDs

Software infrastructure

When it comes to software development, the key to accelerating all processes involved lies in Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD). It is a collection of principles and methods that enables development teams to make changes to program code faster, more often and with greater stability. As a result, this leads to a significantly faster response to business requirements and customer needs.

Continuous Integration & Delivery - Definition

The term Continuous integration represents a coding philosophy as well as a method set that was created to support software developers with the regular integration of minor changes to the program code. In addition, code parts can flow into repositories for version control on a regular basis. Since the majority of today's software applications require different platforms and tools for development, developers need a reliable way to integrate the individual parts with one another and to be able to validate changes.

The goal of CI is to program, bundle and test software consistently and automatically. The consistency in the integration process enables a higher frequency of changes to the code, which in turn leads to more collaboration and, in the end, to a higher quality of the application.

Continuous delivery seamlessly connects to continuous integration and describes the automated delivery of applications within defined IT infrastructures. Most software developers nowadays work with various development landscapes - continuous delivery ensures that code changes are automatically rolled out across this heterogeneous infrastructure landscape.

Continuous integration and delivery also require continuous testing; after all, the goal is to create high-quality and consistently secure applications for end users. In combination, CI and CD ensure that the software development process is significantly accelerated. Continuous integration and continuous delivery are implemented as a pipeline. CI / CD is generally considered to be the best practice for DevOps teams.

  1. CI / CD
    Continuous integration or continuous delivery is often seen as an essential part of a successful DevOps strategy. Usually the combination of both methods is meant in order to be able to deliver stable code more quickly.
  2. Continuous Integration (CI)
    This term describes a method for continuously integrating changes in the code into the main branch, which are then automatically tested. This means that developers receive feedback within a few minutes as to whether the build meets the quality requirements. In addition, you avoid the high effort that arises when all code adjustments have to be integrated into the release branch at once on the day of publication.
  3. Continuous Delivery (CD)
    This describes the automated delivery of application code to various infrastructure environments such as development, test, integration and production environments.
  4. Integrated Developer Environments (IDE)
    Integrated development environments are applications that help build applications. This usually includes a code editor, compiler, debugger, and build automation tools to remove time-consuming, manual tasks from development.
  5. Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)
    There are different process models for software development that define different phases of the software life cycle. The repeatable models used for DevOps mostly use a circular scheme, in which the stages analysis (“What should the app do?”), Design / development, implementation, test and maintenance / evaluation are included.
  6. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
    SAST is a method of testing application security during development. The source code is analyzed "from the inside out" for weaknesses and bugs. Since the code does not have to be compiled for the analysis, SAST can be used very early in the development cycle in order to eliminate errors as they arise.
  7. Regression test
    In a regression test, test cases are repeated to ensure that modifications in parts of the software that have already been tested do not cause new errors (“regressions”).

The trend towards the CI / CD pipeline

According to industry experts, more and more companies are relying on continuous integration and continuous delivery to make the design, development and delivery of software products faster and more efficient. This is particularly the case in companies that rely on agile software development, as a look at the Gartner survey "Agile in the Enterprise" shows.

According to this, agile development teams have a significantly higher adoption rate of CI / CD: "In my opinion, continuous integration is the natural starting point for the creation of automated pipelines," says Sean Kenefick, analyst at Gartner. "The more difficult aspects of continuous delivery are needed for automated testing and the re-architecture of software."

Serverless computing, increasing security requirements and the agile trend have meanwhile made CI / CD a mainstream strategy for all companies that have anything to do with software development: "Features such as continuous integration, automated testing and continuous delivery were previously only available from hip startups are offered. In the meantime, traditional (large) companies are also successfully using these methods, "says Hasan Yasar, Director at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

In the following, we will give you some tips on how to implement a sustainable CI / CD strategy in your company.

CI / CD needs stakeholders

The earliest possible involvement of all stakeholders involved in a development project is essential for the success of a CI / CD strategy, as Yasar knows: "The decisive benefit arises from the participation of all stakeholders in every phase of a development project when decisions are made should be included, for example, when it comes to the architecture, so that the developers work on a platform that meets all IT requirements from the outset. "

This pattern should be repeated for all major project decisions with all relevant stakeholders. This ensures that every major decision is made with the participation of experts and that the technical debts that usually arise during the project life cycle are reduced to a minimum.

The right CI / CD system

The systems for continuous integration and continuous delivery available on the market can provide companies with very concrete advantages. DevOps engineer Josh Komoroske from the security provider StackRox is convinced that the use of such systems is also a signal of how healthy a development department is: "When it becomes child's play to integrate, test and roll out new features, a person's ability to react increases Organization reacts drastically to changes. If, on the other hand, it takes weeks or months to deliver something to your customers, another company comes along that can do it faster and better. "

When it comes to selecting the appropriate software, however, companies should above all research conscientiously, continues the expert. The in-depth analysis of the existing ecosystem and the solutions available for this is just as essential as the involvement of the software developer. After all, it is they who should use the CI / CD system in day-to-day business. Once the decision in favor of the CI / CD system has been made, companies should do everything in their power to clearly highlight its advantages: "Set up the system and demonstrate how it works using specific examples," advises Komoroske. "When people see that it adds value to their workflows, it'll be a sure-fire success."

Continuous integration & delivery tools

According to Gartner, continuous delivery tools essentially cover four areas:

  • Rebuilding for isolation purposes;

  • Automated testing;

  • Creation of an automated process pipeline;

  • Automated provisioning and configuration of environments;

These components are kept general and can result in many individual processes in order to be able to be used. In order to implement automated testing, for example, separate sets for performance and security testing must be created. In addition, automated tests are required that check the IT environments and orchestration platforms for their correct configuration. "There is no one aspect that is more important than the other - they are all equally important," says Gartner analyst Kenefick.

Companies should ensure that manual approval processes are used at critical points in the deployment process. These prevent untested or unapproved program code from entering production or test environments. In addition, this approach allows greater control over when the code is released to key environments.

  1. Product & project manager
    In general, developers don't particularly appreciate it when someone tries to explain to them how to do their job. Because product and project managers often lead development teams, that's exactly what happens. That can lead to discrepancies.

    David Fox from devRant also has an opinion on this: "Ultimately, in most cases, product and project managers are in some way the 'owners' of projects and processes without being involved to know the daily challenges and problems faced by software developers. "
  2. Bosses
    Just like product and project managers, development or engineering managers are responsible for leading teams of developers and ensuring that projects are completed on time and under budget.

    "In some companies, situations can arise where the boss is also a member of the development team. Especially if the boss was a developer himself and becomes boss after a promotion, there is potential for conflict," notes Fox .
  3. Recruiters
    Software developers don't have to actively look for a job themselves in order to be harassed by recruiters and headhunters - thanks to the shortage of skilled workers. It will be very difficult to find a developer who has not yet fallen into the clutches of recruiters.

    David Fox particularly sees the persistence of the recruiters as a problem: "They call, email and they just won't leave you alone - even if you're not looking for a job. And even if If you are looking for a job, many recruiters tend to make irrelevant job offers or recommend positions whose profile does not fit at all - for example a job on the other side of the country, even though you are not ready to move. "
  4. documentation
    If there is no documentation, the software developers complain. If it's too much, they complain, and if they have to do the documentation themselves, too. Even the developers are complaining about the way other people handle the documentation task.

    At this point, all developers finally agree, as Fox emphasizes: "Software developers want detailed, well-written and accurate documentation - but they don't want to do it themselves."
  5. Meetings
    Meetings are a problem not only for everyone else, but also for software developers. Especially when it comes to completely unnecessary, time-consuming and utterly boring get-togethers. As Fox explains, devotional objects with the inscription 'I survived another meeting that should have been an email' are now also available.
  6. Coworking spaces
    With the rise of agility, flat hierarchies, collaboration and teamwork have become part of everyday life in companies - especially for software development teams. But it is precisely these people who usually find it difficult or impossible to cope with their work in an open-plan office - at least that's what devRant figures say.

    David Fox explains: "There are just too many distractions: colleagues are chatting, meetings are missed, phone calls are missed. There are also a number of complaints about coffee in the office and other amenities - or that Opposite of that. "
  7. colleagues
    Self-explanatory: everyone has a colleague whom they particularly value. Not.

    In the case of software developers, the aversion to colleagues is usually based either on the poor quality of their work or an ego that is completely out of sync, reveals David Fox.
  8. Job interviews
    If a software developer is looking for a job and is invited to an interview, there is usually something to complain about afterwards:

    "The developers get just as angry as one with stupid questions or the solution of completely unpractical tasks in the job interview Interlocutor who doesn't even know what a developer is actually doing, "says Fox.
  9. Errors & bugs
    Software developers deal with errors and bugs day in and day out. That is why devRant founder Fox believes that developers think differently on this matter:

    "Most other problems are not resolved positively, but bugs and errors can be fixed and that feels good."
  10. Quality assurance