In many cases, success in the business world relies on software, be it a compelling mobile app, desktop application suite, interactive website or even an embedded system for the IoT. Because of this need, companies with mature software development processes enjoy a significant competitive advantage over those without. Part of fostering this maturity involves crafting quality software with high velocity but low costs.
Modern software development methodologies, like Agile and its variants, play a key role in crafting applications in an effective fashion. As more companies adopted an Agile approach, the movement also fostered DevOps, a management structure combining software engineering and network administration teams while leveraging automation to build apps more quickly. In many cases, the ultimate goal for these adopters involved achieving the programming Holy Grail of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
So, let’s take a closer look at continuous integration and delivery and how it helps companies successfully balance quality, speed, and cost in their software development projects. In a competitive global economy, adopting this approach remains a crucial differentiator, whether or not a business also fully adopts DevOps. In either case, understanding the benefits of CI/CD helps your software company achieve its business dreams.
A Closer Look at DevOps
As noted earlier, DevOps somewhat grew out of the Agile movement, but it isn’t a software development methodology in and of itself. Instead, it involves a company merging its software development team and its network administration staff largely responsible for helping the process of building applications. It increasingly leverages modern technologies like containers and virtualization for development, QA and production servers and automation for builds and testing processes.
This organizational structure and mixture of tools combine to help companies build high-quality software with high velocity and at a lower cost. A mature community grew around DevOps, including tools, best practices, process experts and more. While DevOps originally served as the sole domain of large enterprises, now businesses of all sizes involved in software development benefit from adopting this approach.
Defining Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
Continuous integration effectively automates the critical software development processes of builds and testing. It especially makes sense for shops using multiple programmers, as it works with the team’s source code version control system to ensure all programming changes are merged and remain in sync whenever a developer checks in their code.
Any check-in typically kicks off a process where unit tests and a build are automatically run to ensure those changes don’t “break the build.” In pre-DevOps days, this tended to be a highly manual effort, leading to inefficiencies in any software development project. In short, the team only discovered any integration issues after a manual test. Automation now plays a crucial role in making this aspect of application building significantly more efficient. CI remains a critical best practice in any DevOps shop.
Continuous delivery shares many similarities with continuous integration, especially its use of automation and the latest software development tools. However, instead of performing builds for internal developers and the QA team, CD focuses more on delivering a software product for release to a user community, customer or the public at large. Again, this is another part of the software development process that led to inefficiencies in the days before DevOps and automation.
In terms of software development for mobile apps, CD ends up being the last part of the development process before the app gets delivered to the App Store or Google Play. It also comes into play with any fixes or feature improvements after the app is on the market. A key aspect of engendering goodwill among your customers directly relates to the speed of app improvements. Adopting a CI/CD approach plays an important role in making app changes with high velocity.
CI/CD is the Heart of Successful Modern Software Development
Simply stated, if your company wants to be a successful software developer, adopting both continuous integration and continuous delivery remains crucial. Following an older, manual approach causes too many bottlenecks and inefficiencies to thrive in a highly competitive industry. No matter how great your startup’s idea or app design is, failure to deliver it with high velocity ultimately results in failure. Once again, this same concept applies to fixes and feature enhancements after the app’s launch.
At the same time, you don’t need to fully embrace the DevOps organizational structure by creating a separate team made up of software engineers and network administrators. At many startups with a small headcount, your developers might handle many of those network tasks, including managing virtual servers and containers. Hiring a network admin or two might be an unneeded luxury.
In the end, if you want to build your startup’s app in the most efficient manner, adopting the CI/CD approach makes perfect sense. It provides speed that allows your team to effectively balance quality, speed and cost, resulting in a great app without overspending. It’s the right approach for any successful software project.