Continuous integration (CI) is the practice of automating code changes for software, so they can be fully tested and implemented in the right way at the right time as part of an ongoing process. In the modern world of big data and digital transformations, your enterprise has to rely on more software than ever. You need advanced data processing and analytics solutions to store all your data in one place, ensure its integrity, and use it to gain valuable insights into your business processes. You rely on software solutions like customer relationship management (CRM) systems to provide better customer experiences. Virtually every aspect of your business relies on software in some form, and your development team needs a way to get new solutions ready for launch and fix bugs as quickly as possible for you to stay competitive.
This is where continuous integration comes in. Think of CI like a construction crew raising a new office building. There are multiple team members going off the blueprint to work on multiple parts of the project at once. It’s important to sequence the steps properly. Naturally, it wouldn’t make sense to start putting up the frame of the building before finishing the foundation. Once different builders finish their respective parts of the building, they have to ensure that these parts fit together and support the overall project correctly. CI brings automation into the software development process to ensure new code is introduced at the correct pace and that all the new code works together without any problems. This is extremely important for a modern production environment in which different developers may be in different time zones and have difficultly communicating directly. Here are just some of the most important benefits of continuous integration.
Delivery is the next step in the development pipeline once all new code for a project has been introduced. One of the best benefits of CI is that it enables a more efficient CD pipeline. With continuous delivery, you’ll know that the code base for your final software project versions is always being packaged correctly to be delivered to end users. Once the delivery process is complete, the project should be immediately ready for deployment.
This is the final phase of the development pipeline. The deployment stage automatically launches a new software product and distributes it to the end users. With continuous deployment, you can rest easy knowing that any necessary software updates will reach your end users as soon as possible. Updates may be required to introduce new features, fix discovered bugs, or even counteract new viruses. In a world of digital transformations and constant connectivity, you need to update your software quickly and consistently.
Think about every time you get an OS update on your smartphone or the times when your PC has to restart and update. These instances show the CD pipeline in action.
Another great benefit of CI is that it cuts down on chaos throughout the entire development process and prevents any last-minute errors from ruining a software launch. It ensures that no two developers are ever working on the same piece of code at the same time, which not only reduces mistakes, but also saves costs on redundancies. With test automation, the entire team can be confident that every part of the code works before launching a product.
Eliminating Integration Conflicts
Any software developer knows that even smaller code changes to one part of a system can have drastic effects on seemingly unrelated parts. With CI, it’s easy to identify how one code change will alter the system, and if a developer creates an integration conflict by mistake, they can easily begin to fix it while the code is still fresh.