DevOps teams rely on Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) tools to support the applications’ fast-paced development. There are many tools available and choosing the wrong one for a business can make your job much harder. Here are some factors for consideration to help you make the right choice.
Challenges in CI/CD Pipeline
Though most organizations successfully implement CI/CD, others struggle to get it right due to some operational or technical CI/CD challenges.
- Integration and maintenance costs — a large portion of the overall IT budget goes to engineers needed to support and integrate complex toolchain. For example, an organization with 1000 developers could need up to 40 DevOps engineers to maintain the CI/CD pipeline. These resources could go towards delivering business value instead.
- Mistaking continuous delivery for continuous deployment — many companies tend to mishandle the CI/CD pipeline due to confusion between continuous delivery and continuous deployment. Continuous delivery provides companies with control over functionality and product rollout of. On the other hand, continuous deployment is mostly the business decision to deploy the software into production after updates.
- Security threats — integrating security into the CI/CD pipeline often affects the pace of the DevOps process. Also, false positives may occur due to inadequate knowledge of language during integration.
Benefits of CI/CD
A CI/CD pipeline is the practical implementation of DevOps principles. DevOps improves collaboration and communication between stakeholders. As a result, software deployment’s quality and speed increase, and the time-to-market of new features decrease.
- Faster time-to-market — small code changes in the CI/CD pipeline enable you to release software builds faster. This capability improves flexibility and the ability to deliver new features.
- Faster development — deployments run in continuous cycles, allowing you to fix issues immediately. Consequently, you can release the product in a shorter time.
- Improved code quality — code is released in small batches. You can use unit tests to detect and fix the most serious bugs before deploying to software production.
- Test Reliability — CI/CD improves test reliability by introducing specific code changes in the system. Small and specific code changes enable you to conduct more accurate tests.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a CI/CD Tool
New CI/CD tools are being continuously developed. The number of options can make it challenging to pick the right tools for you. Narrow down your choices by considering the following:
- Check compatibility — consider the tool’s compatibility with your application language. For instance, if you use Ruby to develop your applications, you can use Cucumber for testing.
- Assess your application requirements — not every workflow should be automated. Examine the pipeline and identify which workflows require manual intervention and which require automation.
- Avoid too much automation — not every user story requires a unit test. It would be best if you run unit tests only at critical stages in the pipeline. Otherwise, you can delay the process instead of streamlining it. The best practice is to avoid using the tests to monitor applications.
- Hosting requirement — CI/CD tools can be self-hosted or cloud-hosted on the public or private cloud. Determine what type of hosting you need before choosing.
Things to Look For in a CI/CD Tool
Once you have your application development plan and testing strategy outlined, you know what you need to automate in the pipeline. Now it’s time to discover what to look for in a tool.
- Easy setup and configuration — the tools must be ready to run within minutes. This principle is true for any IT software that you introduce into your workflow.
- Scalability — enables you to scale your operations up or down, according to your workload.
- Integration with cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure — tools that integrate easily into the cloud, can speed up data transfer.
- Supports containerization — containerized pipelines enable you to transfer your pipeline workload into an existing Kubernetes cluster. Kubernetes can help you better utilize your cloud computing resources by running pipeline workloads next to applications. Kubernetes also enables you to scale out your pipelines.
- Compliance with regulations —check if your CI/CD tool meets your industry’s regulatory and security requirements.
- A strong support system — strong community support can help ensure that you do not invest in tooling that will soon be deprecated or abandoned. Tools with substantial support are also more likely to be maintained as integrations with other tools.
- Support pipeline as code to define processes in the pipeline — pipeline as code defines pipelines through a source code, like Git. Pipeline as code helps developers build applications more efficiently by creating automated processes.
Demand for CI/CD tools and solutions is growing. According to the latest CloudFoundry survey of 600 IT executives and professionals, 67% see CI/CD as the most critical initiative for the next two years. Make sure to apply the tips above to improve your DevOps pipelines.
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