CI/CD is a tremendously valuable methodology for software development teams that want to move quickly and efficiently. Below, we’ll cover the basics of CI/CD and why tech teams use CI/CD to streamline their development process.
What is CI/CD
CI/CD stands for “continuous integration/continuous delivery.” This term refers to the simultaneous use of two software development practices:
Continuous integration (CI) is the practice of committing developers’ changes to a software code base regularly—as often as several times per day.
Continuous delivery (CD) is the practice of preparing new software changes to be released into production.
What does this mean for tech teams that use CI/CD? Firstly, developers are responsible for frequently saving their work in a centralized repository accessible to everyone in the team (this is the “continuous integration” part). This ensures that team members are constantly collaborating and building off each other's efforts rather than going off on their own—which could result in bugs or duplicated work.
Secondly, once this code has been committed to the repository, it must be quickly ready to be deployed into production using an automated pipeline. This is the “continuous delivery” part. I
n some cases, the “CD” in CI/CD stands for “continuous deployment,” not “continuous delivery.” Continuous deployment extends the notion of continuous delivery: not only must code be ready for deployment at a moment’s notice, but it actually is deployed at regular intervals, sometimes multiple times a day.
Why should I care
CI/CD combines the processes of continuous integration and continuous deployment, ensuring that changes to the code base will be rapidly and safely delivered to end users. CI/CD pipelines may include automation software such as Jenkins, an open-source tool that automatically tests new changes and deploys them only if the software remains error-free.
In particular, CI/CD is a fundamental practice in DevOps, a software methodology that seeks to bring the development and operations teams closer together. According to a survey by GitLab, 84% of developers using CI/CD and DevOps said they're “releasing code faster than ever before.”
The specific advantages of adopting CI/CD for software development teams include:
Automation: CI/CD automates much of the repetitive work of the software development process, letting developers focus on what really matters: writing clean, efficient code.
Reliability: CI/CD makes the development process more predictable and reliable by defining a pipeline for taking code from the build stage through testing and production.
Accountability: CI/CD makes developers’ work more accountable, transparent, and comprehensible by breaking down large projects into bite-sized chunks that other team members can understand.