Continuous integration

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD stands for "continuous integration, continuous delivery" or "continuous integration, continuous deployment." When used well, CI/CD makes it much easier for development teams to integrate new code into existing products without encountering inconsistencies or failures.

CI/CD relies on automated tools to manage app lifecycles. From the perspective of CI/CD, though, applications don't necessarily need to reach an end to their lifecycles. Theoretically, developers could keep following the loop of continuous integration and delivery forever. Typically, apps get shut down when a better product replaces them. Continuous improvement can, at the very least, prolong the app's viability by adding new features and functionality over time without disrupting current users.

The CI/CD method creates opportunities for ongoing product improvement. It comes with numerous benefits, but you could find it difficult to estimate how much time your team will spend on projects. When it takes longer than expected, you might need to buy additional CI/CD minutes, which adds to your project's cost.

Packagecloud helps solve that problem by giving you unlimited CI/CD minutes. Even our free plan comes with unlimited CI/CD minutes so you can work as much or little as needed.

Sign up for a Packagecloud account now to get started!

Stages of CI/CD

Although you can build unique stages in your CI/CD process, you will likely find that steps fall into specific categories within continuous integration, continuous delivery and continuous deployment.

The stages of CI/CD can move in a straight line or in a never-ending loop that looks very similar to those used in DevSecOps. The specifics don't matter a lot when learning the basics of CI/CD. Just know that you might want to alter the following steps slightly to match your team's workload and goals.

If you don't know the connections between CI/CD and DevSecOps, you can learn more about the topic by reading What Is DevSecOps? You'll also learn how using Packagecloud can improve DevSecOps.

Continuous Integration

Continuous integration usually has three distinct steps:

  1. Build
  2. Test
  3. Merge

Your developers will build a new or altered feature for the product. During testing, automated tools ensure the new code will integrate properly with the existing code. If integration problems emerge, it gets sent back to developers for retuning. Once the code passes the test, the new code packet gets merged with the product.

Popular continuous integration tools for automatically testing code include:

Continuous Delivery

Continuous development involves automatically releasing the update to the repository. Tools will double-check the updated code. If it passes, it gets delivered to the repository, where it waits for the next stage, deployment.

Continuous Deployment

Continuous deployment is the final stage of CI/CD. This takes place after your code has been built, tested, integrated, and added to your codebase. This stage needs excellent test automation to perform a final check before delivering updates to machines. As long as the update passes the automated test, all targeted machines receive the information and adapt to the new version of the product.

Let Packagecloud improve your CI/CD process with a cloud-based infrastructure that delivers packets seamlessly and securely. Our Free Plan gives you unlimited CI/CD minutes, so you never need to worry about running out of minutes. Sign up today to get started.

Common Benefits of CI/CD

CI/CD has some obvious benefits, such as automating updates and testing to save time and help ensure accuracy. Other benefits of CI/CD don't become evident until it has been in use for some time.

Shift Left

Since CI/CD builds and tests code before integrating it into the existing project, it can help you embrace a shift left philosophy. With a shift left approach, your team makes an effort to discover potential flaws as early as possible in the development process. Instead of building a prototype and releasing it to a limited number of testers to find bugs, testing happens in the initial stage. Because of this, the code packets that get deployed to your machines are practically guaranteed to work correctly.

Faster Time to Market

A streamlined CI/CD pipeline can address the ongoing needs of users while giving you a faster time to market. When you deploy your first version of the product, you understand that new needs will emerge. You can focus on creating and delivering a simple, useful product that meets most needs. As you get feedback, you can rely on your CI/CD pipelines to send regular updates. The updates can go out automatically on hourly, daily, or monthly schedules.

Packagecloud comes with a CI/CD pipeline orchestration tool. By choosing Packagecloud, you get a built-in orchestration feature that lets you create efficient, reliable pipelines.

Faster Bug Solutions

Despite automatic testing, some faults will undoubtedly slip through the filter. Since your CI/CD pipeline will test new code more than once, though, you significantly lower the likeliness that bugs will hurt product functionality. If a bug does reach user machines, you can quickly create and deploy a correction. The bug might only exist for minutes or hours before it's discovered and resolved. That level of rapid development rarely happens without the feedback loop created by CI/CD.

More Opportunities for Creativity

Updates do not need to feel permanent when you rely on a CI/CD process. The steps of CI speed up development, which means teams can dedicate more time to brainstorming and problem-solving. If they have a unique idea for a product, they can create it quickly and test it before committing too much energy to the concept.

The tighter feedback loops between developers and users also create more opportunities for creativity. Developers can feel freer to send out new features that might help users. If the change works, it can stay with the product as long as it remains useful. If users don't respond well to the change, developers can update or remove the feature within hours. The amount of inconvenience to the users is so low that developers can take more risks.

Improved Security

Any vulnerability in software creates an opportunity for hackers to infiltrate and add malicious code. It's bad enough when these vulnerabilities target consumers. The potential for destruction grows astronomically when software supply chain attacks target businesses. The malicious code will have the same permissions as the legitimate portions of the product. That could mean that malware reaches your machines and the machines of your partners, clients and customers.

CI/CD helps by giving you a rapid way to respond to software supply chain attacks. As soon as you detect a vulnerability or attack, you can build and deploy code that replaces the malicious code.

Packagecloud offers even more protection from software supply chain attacks by analyzing all your packages for potential threats. It also stores all your packages in one place, so you maintain more control over your products.

How Packagecloud Can Help

Packagecloud provides a cloud-based service that makes it easier than ever to distribute software packages throughout environments and machines. Users can store all work in the cloud regardless of the operating system or programming language they use. From the cloud, users can repeatedly distribute updated products to destination machines.

Packagecloud's ability to seamlessly distribute updated products makes it an essential tool for many developers who use CI/CD processes. Since it's a cloud-based solution, you don't need to own or manage any of the infrastructure. You also get reliable, secure connections that help ensure success.

Do you want to see how Packagecloud can improve the steps of your CI/CD pipeline? Get started with a Free Plan that gives you unlimited CI/CD minutes, 10GB transfer, and 2GB storage. If you ever need to store or transfer more data, you can upgrade to a plan that suits your unique needs.

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