Software development companies continue to become more and more agile. They continue to adapt to new technologies and practices to remain top in their fields of operations. In software development, three strategies; continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment are strategies that have been created to develop, deploy, test and integrate new software quickly and consistently. This article discusses each of the three strategies, their benefits, and how incorporating them can transform your software development lifecycle by reducing costs and simplifying the software development life cycle.
Continuous integration is a software development practice that automates the integration of new codes or blocks of codes from multiple developers into a single software development project. This practice helps developers to integrate code in a shared repository multiple times in a day, instead of writing the code in isolation and then integrating it with the code from other developers at the end of a software development process. The main idea behind continuous integration is to cut the cost of integration. This is made possible by catching bugs that come from integration early enough in a development cycle. It also accelerates the collaborative development of software. Developers can work on the small bugs that arise from integrating code early enough while they are still easy to work on. Once the bugs have been resolved, developers continue to work on the rest of the project comfortably knowing that what has already been done is working seamlessly.
Benefits of continuous integration
- Software developers can release a new product quickly as all bugs arising from integrating code were resolved early during development and integration.
- Fewer bugs get to the production stage since most of them were captured early at every step of development and integration
- Developers can merge code and changes to the code multiple times during the development period.
- The deployment of a continuous integration server monitors the central repository, which automatically runs tests for every new code added and any changes made.
- Less time is used for debugging as the automated continuous integration server can run tests and pick bugs early enough in the development cycle.
- The cost involved in testing reduces significantly since the continuous integration server automatically runs multiple tests all through the development period.
Continuous integration can, however, be costly in some instances. This happens when the level of automation in the continuous integration server fails to match the quality assurance measures that have been put in place. When this happens, manual processes are deployed to ensure that the code will meet the set standards and that it will not break the existing functionality of a system.
Continuous delivery is the extension of the continuous integration process. Continuous delivery, however, mainly focuses on the automation of the software delivery process. This helps the software development team to quickly and seamlessly deliver code and any changes to the code to production at any time. Continuous delivery makes easy the release of software in a manner that is unremarkable. It does not have to be an elaborate process. Continuous delivery requires both technical as well as organizational improvements for it to be effective. Software development teams can release any time without having to conduct elaborate rituals of late testing and deployment. A software development team or company can release as per their schedule and business requirements. Continuous delivery automates the processes involved when loading code into the repository to deciding to release the tested and functional builds to production. This makes continuous delivery attractive to software development companies.
Benefits of continuous delivery
- Release is done more often, thereby improving the feedback loops with customers and acting on this feedback promptly.
- The complexity and cost of deploying software are significantly reduced. This is because the development team doesn’t need to spend a long time preparing a release.
- The pressure to make decisions is made easy due to the small scope of changes made.
Continuous deployment is the extension of the continuous delivery process. It involves automatically deploying every build that has been integrated and tested in the development cycle. A continuous deployment system automatically deploys everything that has been tested successfully rather than having a human being deciding what and when to deploy. Automating the deployment process helps to add new features and fixes quickly, providing for shorty feedback loops with customers. Since many of these fixes are ordinarily limited in scope, customers can better understand the deployment process. Continuous deployment helps you release and deploy new code every time you push it into the master code. Since the continuous deployment is a highly automated process, it will be important that you keep your documentation of the product in sync with every newly deployed code. This will help your customers understand and interact with the new features easily. It will help them provide feedback on the new features, thereby helping you improve on the quality of the product.
Benefits of continuous deployment
- Faster development of software since development is not halted for releases.
- With continuous deployment, small fixes are deployed, making releases easy and less risky.
- Your customers will be able to see continuous improvements and changes as opposed to significant changes at once.
Continuous processes make use of some concepts such as; small, iterative changes, fast and continuous testing, consistency and decoupling deployment from release. These concepts are used in each of these three strategies making development successful at each of them. Continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment are strategies that will help you develop your product faster. Your customers will get and use new features of a product as soon as they are deployed.
These techniques, sometimes present a challenge to some development teams, but the benefits of a properly executed system are enormous. This article acts as a guide to help you understand each of these processes, their benefits and help you make a better decision in your next software development project.