The best way to leverage Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery processes is to improve software quality and accelerate time-to-market while reducing manual processes and the amount of infrastructure involved.
- Continuous integration is building and updating an application's source code frequently, using a set of defined practices and tools, and running the build and release of each version on a regular schedule.
- Continuous delivery is similar but is used to deploy software as new features are added to the system and respond to customer feedback.
Regardless of how you choose to implement CI and CD in your company, we agree that both practices are essential and should be at the core of your IT strategy. The trouble comes when you have the wrong tools to deliver your software continuously.
Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery play a critical role in organizations of all sizes. They enable organizations to deliver software quickly, cost-efficient, and reliable manner.
An overwhelming majority of cloud-based services and web-based applications are built using a combination of both CI and CD processes.
In the context of Continuous Integration, the objective is to enable developers to build software in a way that helps to accelerate time-to-market. With each commit, developers can update and test their code to create a more polished version of the application.
CI is an ongoing process, and the team reviews each commit. When the new version is ready, the developers can then push this version to the Continuous Integration server, which will run the automated tests, providing the team with feedback on the software's performance. If there is a problem with the software, the team will automatically know about it and can fix it.
In Continuous Delivery, the objective is to deliver software to the customers in a reliable and repeatable way. With each commit pushed to the Continuous Integration server, the server runs the automated tests and delivers the code, as an improved version, to the customers.
This process is, however, done manually by the team. The developers do the Continuous Integration process. When a new version is ready to be pushed, the team will perform the manual steps outlined above for Continuous Delivery. A new version of the software is made to the Continuous Integration server, which begins delivering software to the customers.
To reap the benefits of CD, the team must first become adept at monitoring the Continuous Integration server used for constant and Continuous Delivery. Here are some key points you need to know.
Monitoring the Continuous Integration server
One of the first steps you should take before using continuous delivery is to monitor the Continuous Integration server. A couple of options are available to you, including AWS Jenkins and AWS Cloudwatch.
To use Jenkins, you will need to have a Jenkins instance on-premises, which you can connect to via an API, but Jenkins is also available as a cloud service in the form of a Jenkins broker, which you can use for testing demand. You can use Jenkins to create a building job that executes the testing steps outlined above for continuous delivery. Each job runs on a specific schedule.
While setting up a building job using Jenkins might seem daunting, you can create a simple build job in less than 10 minutes. Once you are done creating the build job, the Jenkins server automatically logs in, starts executing the build, and shows you the progress. You can monitor the Jenkins server easily by using the graphical user interface.
Jenkins supports Git for continuous local integration and builds packages in an executable version to package them as an extension for the automation.
Cloudwatch is an open-source service for monitoring EC2 cloud services. Cloudwatch can be deployed on Amazon EC2 (Public Cloud), Amazon RDS (Robotic Process Automation), and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS).
With Cloudwatch, you can set up triggers that trigger any change to your cloud service. It also allows creating alerts, emails, and API endpoints to receive alerts and interact with the Cloudwatch API.
For instance, if there is a higher-than-usual demand for an AWS Service, Cloudwatch sends an email to your registered email address. You can then choose whether you want to acknowledge the email or not.
As a developer, you already have a tool like Visual Studio for working with Git, but Git is not enough to build and deploy applications to the cloud. It would help if you had a version control tool to manage the repository and source code.
You can, therefore, use GitHub to host the repository and source code. GitHub lets you manage the repository and source code through GitHub pages. It also has a Git extension that can easily track changes to your source code and quickly maintain an up-to-date repository.
With GitHub, you can build, test and deploy your application to Amazon EC2 and AWS Cloudwatch.
Setting up the Continuous Integration Process
It is essential to know what goes into a successful continuous integration build. There are several steps to make sure that your development and build process works seamlessly, including:
Working With Developers
With each developer, you need to keep them updated about the requirements for your project. You can use both email and written communications, depending on the specific needs of your developers.
You can make the communication more formal by using a document management system, which will help you track and manage every conversation related to the software you are developing.
Setting up Automated Builds
As explained above, you will need to automate the build process for each change to the source code. For instance, if you want to deploy a new feature to a particular set of users on an Amazon Web Services environment, you can set up an automated build process to test the application.
Several software solutions are available to automate the build process, including Gradle, Maven, Jenkins, and TeamCity.
Continuous integration helps build, test, and deploy the software frequently to all environments, such as the development and production environments.
It is essential to have a pipeline, a collection of steps that must be carried out to build the application and integrate the software with the infrastructure.
Developing and Deploying Applications
Now that you have set up a pipeline to test the build process, the next step is to develop the application deployed to the different environments.
You can either develop the application in an agile way, which allows you to make changes to the source code during a sprint, or create the application using a waterfall method, which involves coming up with detailed design documents and a detailed project schedule.
Another method is setting up an on-demand environment, a repository you can use to run your applications on different settings, such as Amazon Web Services.
A typical process is setting up a testing environment on the cloud and then developing the application using an on-demand environment to test the application in an entirely different environment from the production environment.
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Following the steps outlined above, you can make your cloud-first software development business model a reality. Even if you are new to the cloud industry and thinking of starting your first cloud-first business, it would be in your best interest to learn the process of developing cloud applications and how to build a scalable, transparent, and repeatable business model.
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