Continuous integration (CI) is a software development practice used by DevOps teams to regularly or continuously update code into a central repository. Read on to learn more about how continuous integration works in combination with continuous delivery and deployment (CD) and the benefits these practices can offer to DevOps teams.
In this definition...
What Is Continuous Integration (CI)?
Continuous integration is a software development methodology that focuses on creating iterative changes and improvements for new technologies. In fact, “continuous integration” is sometimes replaced with the term “continuous improvement.”
After a DevOps team merges new code in the central repository, automated builds and testing are performed on the updated code to check for issues. The objective of using continuous integration is to fix bugs or validate and release software updates in less time and minimize errors. It is part of the build and testing phase of a software release.
Without using continuous integration, DevOps teams must complete all updating work before merging changes into the central repository. Waiting for all changes to be ready is time-consuming and can cause a larger number of bugs to accumulate in the software, making it more challenging to identify, isolate, and resolve problems.
Software developers apply continuous integration to their work by working on a shared repository with a version control system. This allows developers to run any unit test on updated code before integration. After continuous integration is performed, continuous delivery can be used to deploy changes to the product or testing environment.
Why Is Continuous Integration Important for DevOps Teams?
Continuous integration is important for DevOps teams as it reduces risk, increases transparency, and offers a more future-looking approach to software development. Risk is reduced by the high frequency of testing and deployment in the continuous integration process. Any issues or bugs in the system can be detected and fixed early with this approach. CI also offers increased transparency because it enables better communication among DevOps team members, easier workflows, and a more collaborative approach to software releases.
What Is CI/CD?
CI/CD is short for “Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery.” In this mode of development, developers are able to integrate new code into a shared repository by using CI and automate the delivery of updated code to the product stage by using CD. With the CI/CD model, software developers can maximize the speed of deployment, complete testing faster, work with a smaller backlog, automate deployment to the production phase, and increase speed and quality for fault isolation.
Top CI/CD Tools
CircleCI is one of the world’s largest CI/CD platforms, with over 1 million builds done on the platform every day. It offers an easy user interface; customizable CI/CD workflows; and several features for managing, approving, and debugging software. The quick and seamless integration with GitHub is a plus. It also offers integrations with Jira and Slack.
Bamboo, a product of Atlassian, offers an excellent CI/CD platform for software release management, including features for building, testing, and implementation. It offers integration with Bitbucket and Jira and plenty of collaboration tools for easy communication among developers, system administrators, build engineers, testers, and managers.
GitLab is newer to the CI/CD world but has quickly become one of the best platforms available. This feature-packed platform offers code reviews, activity feeds, repository management, and other useful CI/CD tools. GitLab is often preferred for open source projects, as it offers excellent issue tracking and issue shuffling features. A major advantage of using GitLab is the active community support available to users.
Learn about other helpful CI/CD solutions in this Top Continuous Delivery Tools guide.