What is CI/CD? A Complete Guide to CI/CD

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LinkedIn
  • Share on Instagram

Software development cycles have changed immensely in the last ten years. New practices and design philosophies are being tried every day. One of these practices is CI/CD pipelines, utilizing aspects of agile software development paired with automation and robust testing.

In this post, we’ll be covering all aspects of CI/CD, as well as some popular CICD tools your organization can use to implement a CI/CD pipeline.

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD is a relatively new practice that combines two approaches to software engineering: Continuous Integration (CI), and either Continuous Integration or Continuous Delivery (CD). It’s done by enforcing automation when building, testing, and deploying applications.

This approach to DevOps CI CD brings constant updates and testing to a product or software, with steps along the way to ensure that development runs smoothly. With these practices in motion, a team can:

  • Increase productivity by having frequent code base commits, automated building, and more.
  • Increase their chances to find bugs early in development by integrating automated testing, as well as testing during development.
  • Send out faster releases thanks to the frequent testing and automated deployment system.

Continuous Integration

The first half of CI/CD is always known as Continuous Integration. It's a set of best practices and procedures that help developers work on smaller changes, as well as utilizing version control to make sure everyone is on the same build.

Developers will build, run, and test code on their own before committing to a central repository. Once those changes have been committed, the new version is built and tested automatically, before delivering a report of details to follow up with. If anything fails, it goes back to the team to be fixed.

A team practising CI successfully are typically all pushing new code to a master branch daily, with each commit triggering tests to be run. If the tests fail, the team can work on a solution quickly and commit again.

CI requires a consistent way to build, package, and test an application through automation. Using this can lead to more collaboration and better quality code, as teams are more likely to commit changes earlier and more often.

Continuous Delivery

One of the two latter halves of the practice, Continuous Delivery stacks on top of CI’s constant commits that newly tested code from CI. It automates the delivery of valid code to a repository, which can then be used to be pushed to production or to users for additional testing. However, this does not send these updates to a final production build, though it is treated as if it was a release candidate.

This is sometimes seen as a “middle step” between Continuous Integration vs Continuous Deployment, the other representation of CD. Not all workflows use all three, and some opt to use one over the other.

Continuous Deployment

Directly opposite of Continuous Delivery, this step is where features that have been thoroughly tested through CI are deployed to a final product via an automated service. This contrasts to Continuous Delivery as it immediately deploys the code as a release candidate.

When in practice, this means that changes in an application can go live within minutes, making it much easier to receive customer feedback. However, it strongly relies on proper and accurate testing during the other steps of the development cycle, meaning it can be costly to set up.

The top CI/CD Tools

As the practice of CI/CD becomes more and more widespread, there’s been a number of solutions to hit the market and aid teams. Naturally, there are a wide number of options with their own pros and cons to each of them. This list will include some of the most popular ones out there, and why they’re excellent.

Jenkins

By far the most popular tool out there, Jenkins has been around for a while. It’s an open-source solution for CI/CD that works on almost all OS, and over 1500 plugins available to work with other tools. It supports many popular testing frameworks, can run testing scripts automatically, and much more. However, the design is fairly developer-centric and can lead to a steep learning curve.

CircleCI

Another heavy hitter, CircleCI offers a lot of the same options as other CI tools, but it’s a little easier to manage. It’s entirely cloud-based, so there’s no need to spend a long time getting it set up. However, some users have reported issues with response time and uptime. This is mainly due to its AWS infrastructure so it’s not entirely their fault.

TravisCI

While not as popular as its friend Jenkins, TravisCI has been a mainstay in the open-source community, mainly because it provides free services for open-source software. It supports a wide variety of languages and is easy to set up and deploy. However, it seems to have fallen out of favour in recent years and is not as popular or robust as other tools.

GitLab

Not just a code repository host, GitLab offers a full suite of DevOps solutions including a CI/CD pipeline for any business. It also features integration with other tools such as Jenkins, so you aren’t fully reliant on one solution at all times.

Bridging the Gap

Not all organizations can utilize a CI/CD pipeline in their workflow, but the impact it has made is significant. It’s become a crucial part of today’s DevOps and continues to shape the industry. If your organization needs to deploy software quickly and efficiently, then CI/CD is an easy solution that will make great improvements to your team.

overcome the challenge of devsecops

Subscribe to the Uleska blog

You may unsubscribe at any time using the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.

Popular Articles
Visit the Blog
Tools

Open Source Security Testing Tools

Security tools are an essential part of software development today, especially with the ever-increasing number of attacks we see every year....

Security

Security Orchestration Automation and Response (SOAR)

Security teams frequently struggle with the volume of alerts and issues they are tasked with daily. On average, most enterprises receive between...

Security

Secure Software Development Life Cycle

Software development has evolved into an incredibly complex machine, with several moving parts to keep track of. Teams get more extensive, and...

Security

Application Security Orchestration & Correlation

Application Security is a constantly evolving industry, with new threats and methods to combat them appearing regularly. One of the more recent...

Collaboration

Top 5 AppSec Productivity Hacks 2022

The application security (AppSec) industry moves fast. Development, security and operations (DevSecOps) practitioners are having to find creative...

Tools

How to improve security tool selection and customisation with Uleska Toolkits

We know starting your application security (AppSec) journey can be a little overwhelming. After all, choosing your tools from scratch and setting...

Application Security

What is Application Security? A Beginner’s Guide

What is Application Security? Application Security is defined by developing, adding, and testing security features in an application or website....

Security

Vulnerability Assessments in Application Security

Did you know that over 79% of developers surveyed in 2020 stated their applications had 20 or more vulnerabilities on average? As the digital world...

Security

Defining and breaking down Vulnerability Management

No system is perfectly secure, as proven by software analysis firm CAST, which reviewed 278 million lines of code and discovered more than 1.3...

Company News, Featured

Toolkits: Taking the guesswork out of security tool selection and customisation

There are thousands of amazing AppSec tools out there, but this can be both a blessing and a curse. While the headway and innovation we are seeing...

DevSecOps

How to eliminate risk when scaling application security

Building robust application security is a lot like building a house—you want it done thoroughly, without any missing parts. However, there is a...

Security

What is the OWASP Top 10 and how to use it?

Cybersecurity has been a rising concern in the last decade. In 2021, researchers have seen 50% more attacks per week on corporate networks compared...

Security

What is Shift Left? Ultimate Guide to Shift Left Security

With today’s fast development speeds, it’s hard to keep up with security practices for some organisations. This is especially true in the last few...

Security

What is Software Composition Analysis?

Open-source software has become a vital part of development in the last decade. However, utilising these components often comes with several caveats,...

DevSecOps

DevSecOps tool examples that will alleviate your workload

The saying goes: “Many hands make light work.” Nowhere is this more apparent than in DevSecOps where developers and releases outnumber security...