Ensuring that code releases happen smoothly is a challenge for any organisation.
Using the Continuous Integration and Delivery approach allows new features to be taken into production quickly and without incident.
With AWS you can introduce a Continuous Integration and Delivery cycle and take a truly DevOps approach to code release.
What is Continuous Integration?
Continuous Integration is a software development practice which requires developers to regularly merge their code changes into a shared repository, after which automated builds and tests are run.
The key objective of the continuous integration process is to prevent any integration issues and this process refers to the build and unit testing phases of the software release pipeline.
What is Continuous Delivery?
Continuous Delivery is a logical step forward from Continuous Integration. It is a software development practice in which Continuous Integration, automated testing, and automated deployment capabilities allow software to be built, tested and prepared for a release to Production.
This does not mean that we would always be delivering to customers as they might not require a constant update. Instead, it represents a commitment to ensure that the code is always in a release-ready state. The code changes will be pushed through the release pipeline. The term pipeline generally describes the various stages involved in getting the software from source control to the production environment. As part of this release pipeline, the code changes get deployed to various different test environments to facilitate the full testing cycle. The final deployment to a production environment is usually done using manual approach.
Continuous Delivery is often confused and used interchangeably with the term Continuous Deployment
What is Continuous Deployment?
Continuous Deployment refers to the software development practice where code changes go through the release pipeline and automatically get deployed into Production without any manual intervention. This is slightly different to the continuous delivery process which involves human intervention in the final deployment to production.
Continuous deployment is often adopted by consumer oriented companies who perform many deployments per day to get the changes to the customer quickly.
Why should you adopt Continuous Integration and Delivery in your organisation?
Let’s look at some of the benefits:
- Low risk releases – The continuous integration process helps identify and fix bugs earlier in the development cycle
- Hardens release process – Setting up an automated, repeatable process to release changes to Production helps achieve consistency and reduces deployment risk
- Short release cycles – Reducing the time it takes to validate and release new software updates makes it quicker to release updates to improve frontline services
- Improves process and productivity – The automated testing process means you can concentrate on improving the software. It breaks the silos by nurturing collaboration and communication between internal teams
There are organisational and technical issues to be aware of when adopting Continuous Integration and Delivery. Here are some of the key challenges:
Adopting the CI/CD process model requires a shift in the mindset of the teams within the organisation. The leadership team needs to address this by breaking down the barriers among teams and promoting a collaborative culture.
The process of developing a new customized CI/CD solution on-premise can incur significant time and cost. The process of choosing the right tools for this task requires a reasonable amount of time to be spent on market research.
As part of setting up the CI/CD process in AWS, we can leverage the services within AWS that have been built for this purpose. Here’s how to move towards a DevOps culture by automating release pipelines and deployments.
Continuous Integration/Delivery capabilities in AWS
AWS CodeCommit is a secure, highly scalable and fully managed source control service that hosts private GIT repositories and works with GIT-based tools. There is no need to manage your own source control system or worry about scaling its infrastructure.
Fully integrated with AWS CodePipeline and AWS CodeDeploy to streamline the development and release process. This also has built in encryption support and is fully integrated with AWS Identity and Access Management.
AWS Code Pipeline is a continuous delivery and release automation service that aids smooth deployments. Design the development workflow for checking in code, building the code, deploying the application onto staging, testing it and releasing it into Production. It can be used as a stand-alone or an end-to-end solution or it can be integrated with existing source control systems such as GIT, test framework or build tools.
AWS Code Deploy efficiently delivers your released code to a “fleet” of EC2 instances allowing for centralised deployment control and monitoring. It can accommodate fleets that range in size from one instance all the way up to tens of thousands of instances.
How Secure is my CI/CD solution in AWS?
Security is an area that requires constant vigilance and benefits from the repeated and frequent delivery. Bringing everything into code and storing it in a repository such as AWS CodeCommit means that any change can be traced back right to the original concept and security is built in from the outset.
Using these services correctly can vastly increase the productivity of development teams. Once set up, there is no need to repeat the tasks. Additionally, AWS tools such as CloudFormation and OpsWorks can be used to control the creation of some of these features. This further reduces the amount of work required to set up a fully automated Continuous Integration and Delivery system.
By AbdulKhader AbdulHanif, Cloud Solutions Consultant, SystemsUp