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CI/CD: Definition, Working Mechanism, Tools, and Benefits

Last updated: Oct 17, 2023

CI/CD: Definition, Working Mechanism, Tools, and Benefits
Cover Image: Illustration of CI/CD in Software Development

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD is one of the key concepts in software development, which stands for Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD).

These twin powerhouses are the dynamic duo of modern software development, orchestrating a symphony of automation, testing, and deployment that transforms the once burdensome process into a streamlined one. But what is CI/CD exactly and how does it work its magic? 

CI is the practice of integrating code that has been developed into a repository. To ensure a smooth integration process, the system automatically runs a series of tests whenever there are code changes.

On the other hand, CD is the subsequent action after the code has gone through the integration and testing process in CI. 

The code is then deployed to the production environment, allowing for continuous software updates.

Through this concept, code changes made by the DevOps engineers can be integrated, tested, and deployed automatically or repeatedly.

 

How CI/CD Works

CI/CD is a process that combines two main concepts, CI and CD, to ensure software quality and code delivery work effectively. As to achieve these goals, the stages include:

1. Source

In this stage, developers make code changes within a shared repository. They then upload these changes to version control systems.

Whenever there are uploaded code changes, the system takes further actions, such as automatic integration.

2. Build

After the code changes are uploaded, the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment system initiates the build phase. The build phase is the process of combining code and its dependencies to create a runnable product. 

This stage requires programming languages like Javascript, C/C++, or Go for code compilation.

3. Test

The testing phase in Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment involves automated testing actions. 

These tests are designed to rigorously evaluate various aspects of the software's performance and functionality, ensuring its reliability and robustness, as well as detecting potential bugs or other issues resulting from code changes.

4. Deploy

If the testing process is successful, the software is then ready for the deployment phase. During this phase, the software is placed into the designated system, whether it be a testing or production system.

Within the practice, the deployment process begins with the uploading of software to servers, and the integration with the available infrastructure is performed automatically by the CI/CD system.

  • Monitoring and Rollback: After deployment, CD continuously monitors the application's performance in the production environment. If issues or failures arise, the CD can automatically roll back to a previous version to address the problem.
  • Reporting and Monitoring: CD also reports deployment results to both the development and operations teams. This includes reporting on deployment status and testing results.

 

Benefits of CI/CD

As mentioned earlier, this concept plays a significant role in software development. Therefore, this concept brings many benefits to the software development process, such as:

1. Faster Feedback

In traditional software development models, testing often occurs after the development phase is completed. 

However, with Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, the testing stage is automatically executed whenever there are code changes. Consequently, developers may receive immediate feedback every time they make changes.

The availability of faster feedback allows software teams to promptly address issues and ensure software quality improves continuously. 

2. Early Bug Detection

You can also help identify bugs and issues more quickly as this concept leverages automated testing that runs regularly to test software in various scenarios and conditions.

Hence, if any bugs or issues arise, the development team will become aware of them promptly and can swiftly pinpoint the source of the problem. 

3. Accelerated Release Process

CI/CD is a concept that combines and deploys code directly into the product, ensuring that the software is always in a release-ready state, thereby increasing efficiency.

Furthermore, developers do not need to wait for the end of the development cycle to perform releases, enabling software to be delivered to users rapidly.

 

7 Types of CI/CD Tools

Currently, there are various tools, software, or platforms that can be used to automate and streamline processes, such as:

1. Jenkins

Compared to other tools, Jenkins is the most widely used open-source tool. This tool can automate various stages in the software development lifecycle, from building and testing to deployment.

Additionally, Jenkins offers a wide range of plugins that integrate with various tools and operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

2. AWS Codebuild

As one of the world's largest cloud computing service platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) also provides CI/CD tools management called AWS CodeBuild. 

AWS Codebuild can be used to automate the software development process within the AWS cloud environment.

CodeBuild seamlessly integrates with other AWS services and offers flexibility in configuring systems to match project requirements.

3. Azure DevOps

Microsoft has introduced a tool called Azure DevOps, which enables the automation of the entire software development process, from start to finish.

Azure DevOps offers a variety of features, including code management, automated builds, automated testing, as well as software deployment and delivery. Moreover, it is known for its friendly user interface (UI) and supports team collaboration.

4. GitLab CI/CD

GitLab CI/CD is part of the GitLab platform and supports the automation of the software development process. 

It operates using three methods: continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment.

These methods support the automation of software build, testing, and deployment based on code changes uploaded to the GitLab repository.

5. Travis CI

This is a CI service that allows for automated testing and deployment to various platforms, including GitHub and GitLab.

With Travis CI, developers can automate the steps of software testing whenever changes occur in the source code of their projects in their repositories. This overall process helps ensure that the software continues to function correctly and aligns with the project's objectives. 

6. CircleCI

CircleCI is a platform that provides powerful automation and integration with various code repositories, such as GitHub and Bitbucket.

This platform allows developers to efficiently automate their software testing and deployment processes whenever changes are made to the source code of their projects.

7. GitLab CI/CD

GitLab includes integrated tools directly within the GitLab repository. This simplifies the configuration and usage of CI/CD within your projects.

With this direct integration, web developers can quickly create and manage Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment pipelines, automate testing, and efficiently manage software deployments.

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