6 Top Benefits of Continuous Integration
Do you want to boost the quality of your software builds? If you do, you’ve just found a way to do that and more. Continuous Integration (CI) dramatically boosts software quality while trimming development time, costs, and effort. It’s why more and more developers are using CI to build software. A recent report by Digital Ocean, for instance, finds that 58% of the study’s respondents used CI while 46% who hadn’t used it planned on using a CI or continuous delivery (CD) process.
But you may be concerned that CI is too complicated and sophisticated to use. Continuous integration need not be complicated or sophisticated. It can, in fact, be relatively simple. A script that launches a testing tool, a second script that builds the software after testing, and an email alerting your team to the success or failure of the two previous steps is all it takes. Sounds good, right?
In reality, though, CI pipelines are generally more involved than that. So how complicated and sophisticated can a CI pipeline get? It depends on several factors, including your build’s needs, your tech stack, and your daily workflow. These factors vary with every situation. So, if you’re an in-house developer looking to boost software quality and cut development time and costs, continuous integration in the public cloud may be just what the doctor ordered.
Below we look at the advantages of using the Cloud, what continuous integration is, and six key benefits CI provides. We hope the information helps you make an informed decision about using CI.
Continuous Integration and the Cloud
The Cloud is here to stay. No doubt about it. That’s because it offers advantages that work for developers. For example, the Cloud architecture frees you and your team from dealing with additional servers and data centers, as well as the labor involved in maintaining and updating this equipment. Eliminating these constraints provides you time to innovate instead of fixing bugs and servers.
More important, the Cloud provides a computer infrastructure that scales dynamically up or down. That gives you the flexibility to meet the changing needs-and budgets-of your company continuously, saving time and money. Put another way, the Cloud is “hosting generalized and made elastic,” enabling you to use continuous integration. With companies demanding more from less these days, this advantage is crucial.
What is Continuous Integration?
Continuous integration is a proven development practice. It lets developers pump code into a shared repository one or more times a day, with an automated testing effort verifying each integration. (Testing isn’t strictly a part of continuous integration, but it’s often implied.) CI enables you to detect errors easily and pinpoint them quickly. That means you can improve the project daily.
CI provides a solid foundation for two other development practices: continuous delivery (CD) and continuous deployment. With CD, developers automatically prepare code changes for production. When married to CI, the combination lets you develop and deploy software rapidly, reliably, and repeatedly without help from anyone. That’s a boon for many companies. Mozilla, for example, often uses CD for its software builds.
Continuous deployment, on the other hand, is a development practice where every code change that passes automatic testing is automatically released to the production environment. This effort results in production deployment daily and makes changes visible to users. Continuous deployment does everything that CD does, but it does it automatically-also a boon for companies. Amazon, for example, deploys code to production every 11.7 seconds.
Key Benefits of Continuous Integration
Combining continuous integration, deployment, and delivery pays off. But implementing this strategy can be challenging. To successfully implement a CI/CD pipeline, for instance, you need the right tool sets to configure the Cloud infrastructure and have the ability to spin up temporary development environments to test and verify code changes.
But having challenges like these doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider continuous integration for your next software build. Continuous integration offers the following six benefits that can help you boost software quality:
Lower costs - Some consider this CI’s top benefit. You save costs especially when it comes to creating new builds or builds based on an open-source tool like Jenkins-a self-contained Java-based, out-of-the-box solution. Using CI in the Cloud means you won’t have to invest in extra hardware or staffing to build the initial software.
Minimal configuration - You can’t eliminate configuration with CI’s help, but you can reduce it a lot. Often, you can cut configuration needs to those required just for that CI pipeline. Plus, you have a range of default settings available to you to suit the type of software you’re developing. You just need to choose the settings that work for you and then make supplementary changes.
Dynamic scalability - The Cloud’s elasticity lets you scale up or down as needed. That means development teams building new software can kick things off with just the features and computing power they need. This approach minimizes costs and stops you from over-investing in hardware. As your user base expands, you can scale up dynamically to the meet the need for more resources.
Flexibility - CI works with projects regardless of almost any technology mix. It even works with a host of infrastructures ready to go, including a range of database, queuing, cache, and search servers. In cases where you have multiple versions of these servers available simultaneously, you can test your application in a wide variety of combinations and permutations.
Reduces risk - There’s always a risk when you test and deploy code. CI reduces risk level by allowing you to detect bugs and code defects sooner, making it easier and cheaper to fix. It also accelerates feedback and smooths out communication. If you’re tied into a continuous delivery workflow, you’ll find it easier and faster to share code regularly, increasing speed and efficiency within your company.
Faster iterations - CI shrinks the gap between software you’re working on and its production. Every change you make is quickly tested-even minor ones-with the whole team knowing about it when developing new features. With CI, you can build features quickly, test and deploy them faster, and speed up generating valuable feedback from users.
This list of benefits isn’t exhaustive. But they help boost software quality. Keep in mind also that CI offers business benefits that managers appreciate. For example, companies get valuable feedback faster, gain quicker user insights, and generate more data that can help you determine if your software is heading in the right direction.
Continuous Integration: The Bottom Line
Using continuous integration in the public Cloud can help boost software quality. But you may be new to CI and leery of using it. Hopefully, the information above can help you make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s worth using this proven development practice. if you’re looking to take your software builds to the next level, CI might be just what you need make this leap.
Simply put, CI is a powerful tool that not only boosts software quality but also saves development time, costs, and effort. When combined with continuous development and continuous deployment, continuous integration can be a game-changer for you, your team, and your company. So, give this approach serious consideration when launching your next software build. It offers benefits that are hard to ignore.