CI/CD Pipeline — A Quick Overview

A quick introduction and overview of the CI/CD pipeline, which is a series of steps that must be performed in order to allow development teams to release consistent software updates when required and helps reduce the cost, risks and time consumed by release cycles, along with benefits and recommended best practices.

What is a CI/CD Pipeline?

Continuous Integration automates code builds and tests which are triggered by any changes or addition to the application with nearly instant feedback to the developer teams.

Continuous Delivery automates setting up IT infrastructure and application deployment, which may have to be manually triggered in several stages , and are provided with system logs and full visibility to development teams.

Release Stages :

  1. Source Stage : Change in code in software repository, scheduled or user-initiated workflows trigger a pipeline run.
  2. Build stage : source code and dependencies are combined to attain a runnable software instance, CI/CD pipeline builds Docker containers for cloud-native softwares.
  3. Test stage : automated tests are run to validate code and software behaviour, exposes bugs that may be overlooked in the previous stages.
  4. Deployment stage : code is deployed, usually in multiple deployment environments such as beta/staging (product team) and production environment (end users).
CI/CD software release pipeline

There may be an additional validation and compliance stage which determines if needs and requirements expected of the software are met or not.

Benefits of a CI/CD Pipeline :

  • Speed
  • Reliability
  • Accuracy
  • Developers can give more attention to code and system behaviour during production
  • Visibility allows stakeholders and QA to access latest version of software
  • Automatically generated logs for code changes, tests and deployment
  • Nearly instant feedback is available

Best Practices To Be Followed :

  • Security scans and unit tests must be done before API and UI tests
  • Each workflow must begin from the same isolated pipeline environment
  • Use branching and analyse pull requests for bugs before merging into the main branch
  • Each pull request requires peer code review for efficient problem-solving unless change is small enough to be overlooked.
  • Use open source tools to analyse code quality within the pipeline to reduce time consumption

A few external tools that are recommended for CI/CD pipeline include :

Jenkins — automation server for central build and continuous integration.

CircleCI — automates code building, testing and deployment, Linux plans start with the option to run one job without parallelism for free and open-source projects get three additional free containers.

TeamCity — Build management and continuous integration server, provides free license for open-source projects.

GitLab — software development lifecycle management tool, provides free packages as well.

Buddy — free commercial tool that allows building, testing and deployment of websites and applications with code from BitBucket, GitHub and GitLab.

TravisCI — hosted service to build and test projects, provides free license for open-source projects.

Codeship — hosted platform that supports early and automatic software releases multiple times, it is free for up to 100 builds per month.

GoCD — open source tool to build and release software that supports modern infrastructure.

Spinnaker — open source multi cloud continuous delivery platform that supports software release and deployment across various cloud providers.

Buildbot — open source CI framework based on python that automates compile and test cycles for code change validation. It automatically rebuilds test tree after every change.

These are just a few tools available for the CI/CD processes which include free licenses and packages (under specific conditions). There are many more, including those with paid packages and licenses that perhaps provide better service for projects.

Note :

This article is not sponsored and is purely based on the author’s opinions and personal experience on the journey of learning. None of the links provided here are affiliate links and are provided only for the purpose of learning.

The author is a student completing an Engineering Degree in Computer Science with Specialization in Cloud Technology and Mobile Applications.

Check out this article on my Personal Blog : CI/CD Pipeline-A Quick Overview

All images and diagrams excluding the thumbnail have been created by the author using Adobe XD

References :

[i]. CI/CD Pipeline: A Gentle Introduction — Semaphore

[ii]. What is a CI/CD pipeline? — RedHat

[iii]. Best 14 CI/CD Tools You Must Know — Katalon

A student completing an Engineering Degree in Computer Science with Specialization in Cloud Technology and Mobile Applications.