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What is CI/CD?

Summary

CI/CD is an abbreviation for Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery, which describes two processes in modern software practice.

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Summary

CI/CD is an abbreviation for Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery, which describes two processes in modern software practice.

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD is an abbreviation for Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery, which describes two processes in modern software practice.

These two processes are closely associated with both DevOps and DevSecOps. Although they are separate practices, organizations which adopt one usually adopt the other as well.

What is Continuous Integration?

As tech organizations develop software, traditional practice has been to focus on large changes to the codebase. Developers check out code, and work on it for substantial lengths of time to add new features. Although they will save their work periodically in version control systems, their changes often will not be merged back into the central codebase until they are thought to be complete.

This practice means that development is a slow process. The codebase remains static for long periods of time, with periodic and extensive changes. Furthermore, it makes QA both slow and challenging, because QA must test large-scale revisions all at once. Then large numbers of bugs are typically found during this process, which will require further revisions.

Continuous integration (CI) is a different approach. Here, developers regularly merge their changes back into the central repository. Automated builds and test are run frequently against the codebase. This reveals bugs more quickly—ideally, right after they are introduced—because the revisions that produced them are much smaller, so it is usually easier to find the source of the problems. In turn, this means the bugs can be fixed right away, which minimizes the number of open issues in the codebase. It also makes it less likely that a significant amount of subsequent work will be built using the erroneous code as its foundation. 

Overall, adopting CI can increase software quality, while decreasing the time spent in the testing/debugging cycle.

What is Continuous Delivery?

Traditionally, software shops would accumulate a lot of changes and new features, and then issue them in large, infrequent updates.

Continuous delivery (CD) is a different approach. CD is an important part of DevOps practice; it means that organizations regularly build and release smaller updates, which pass through automated testing and then become the current production release. 

This has a number of important advantages. First, it means that as new features are completed, they can be shipped immediately. This keeps current customers happy, thus increasing retention rate. And it allows the sales team to offer better products to prospective customers more quickly, thus increasing sales.

Further, it increases the quality and attractiveness of the products being offered. The CI/CD process allows organizations to have a short develop/release cycle. Thus, as new features are completed, organizations can get immediate feedback from the market. Existing customers can react to the changes, requesting revisions or additional features according to their needs, and the sales team can see how the new features affect their conversions. Then the DevOps team can respond immediately, make the product better, and release a new version quickly.

This CI/CD cycle repeats again and again, rapidly improving the featureset and quality of the software, making it more attractive to existing customers and the market overall.

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