Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) management pipelines are a necessity in large companies, however, small teams can also take advantage of the many benefits they provide. Developers are able to focus on security, code quality, and business needs because the deployment process is entirely automated. These benefits keep a company more agile and focused when responding to new challenges.
Continuous integration (CI) is the process of merging developer’s work into the source code multiple times a day. When talking about it in a pipeline context, it is a set of tools and tests that check to ensure the proposed changes don’t break any of the existing code. Continuous deployment (CD) is the automation required to push out a valid update to users. Married together, these two concepts create the CI/CD management pipeline, an automated process that merges, tests, and deploys code in a predictable, efficient manner.
CI/CD management pipelines are now the norm for good reason. Beyond making developers happier, deployments have become more reliable with fewer errors which results in better allocation of technical resources. Any high powered development team needs... you guessed it, high powered programmers. In order to attract talent and retain it, developers want environments that enable them to create and build rather than fight through the minutiae of errors and broken deployment. Pipelines reduce the hands-on time, and open doors to solve issues quickly. When pipelines are built properly, they increase deployment reliability and reduce errors that make it to production environments. The effort up front to integrate proper unit tests, integration tests, and descriptive feedback returns on the investment many times over. When these pieces come together, developers get to spend more time enhancing features and building value instead of trying to tame a wild codebase. The combination of happy, engaged developers and increasing value of a companies’ product makes it a win-win situation for all parties.
As CI/CD management technologies, both commercial and open source, become more widely available, it has never been easier to build and deploy a basic pipeline for your development team. What was once only necessary for the big players can be leveraged by small teams without the need for heavy investment on the front end to get started. Git services such as GitLab provide powerful pipeline and CI/CD management tools to let developers focus on the pipeline stages themselves instead of the complexities of infrastructure to execute them. In modern or hosted CI environments, all of the development effort goes toward improvements of the pipeline stages and robust testing, reducing the overhead of deployments and increasing quality. In small teams, the collaboration and peer review is streamlined into a central workspace that acts as a single source of truth.
With the velocity of business in the modern world, every advantage to pursue revenue and create value is necessary. Pipelines enable developers and companies to build quality software at unprecedented speed. Keeping engineering teams engaged and customers happy is critical to success and pipelines take the first step in opening the doors for long term achievement. For more information on the specifics of pipelines that are used today, check out the introductory resources from GitLab and GitHub.
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