With Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery/Deployment (CI/CD), developers integrate their code changes into a shared repository multiple times daily or whenever changes are made. The integrated code is then automatically built, and automated tests are executed. By detecting issues early in the process, developers receive prompt feedback about the quality and correctness of the source code. This constancy is both a strength and a weakness of the DevOps philosophy. The open-hearth furnace cannot be stopped because the inner lining will crumble. CI/CD cannot be stopped because continuity is the very essence of the process.
What is Traditional Software Development and Why is It Opposed to CI/CD
CI/CD is a software development approach that aims to streamline the process of building, testing, and deploying applications. Traditional software development methodologies, such as the Waterfall model or the V-Model, typically involve a sequential process with distinct phases: requirements gathering, system design, development, testing, and deployment. CI/CD represents a shift towards more agile, automated, and collaborative practices, enabling faster software delivery while reducing risks and increasing efficiency.
Automation means everything
First, consider the CI/CD process by breaking it into its components. Continuous integration involves developers frequently integrating their code changes into a repository. The integrated code is then automatically built, and various automated tests are executed to identify integration CI/CD issues and bugs early in the development process. After successful integration and testing, the software is automatically prepared for release and available for testing or deployment to end users.
In sum, the two components act according to the following principles:
• CI/CD relies heavily on tools and practices to automate the software building
• Developers frequently integrate their code changes, ensuring early detection of issues
• A suite of automated tests is executed to validate the functionality of the software
• The software is automatically deployed to a staging or production environment
• Version control systems, such as Git, are used to manage code changes
• CI/CD promotes encouraging collaboration between development and operations teams
CI/CD allows for more frequent releases, faster feedback loops, and the ability to respond rapidly to changing users’ needs.
The conventional approaches
These traditional approaches for building software applications follow a sequential and linear process, often called the "Waterfall" model, where each development phase is completed before moving on to the next. Here are the key characteristics:
• Traditional methodologies emphasize extensive planning and documentation at the beginning of the project
• Testing is typically performed after the development phase is completed
• Traditional development relies heavily on manual processes for tasks such as code integration, testing, and deployment
• Due to the sequential nature, release cycles tend to be longer
• Customer involvement and feedback are limited to the initial requirement-gathering phase and final user acceptance testing
While traditional software development approaches still have their place in specific contexts, they have limitations regarding flexibility to changing requirements.
The main differences between CI/CD and traditional software development
CI/CD Is the Result of the Industry Development
Advancements in automation tools, cloud computing, containerization, version control systems, agile development, and knowledge sharing have made CI/CD possible. These factors have contributed to the software development lifecycle's scalability, reliability, and efficiency, enabling companies to implement CI/CD methodologies successfully.
The path to the app market is short
The ability to deliver software applications to market more quickly and efficiently is a key benefit of implementing CI/CD practices. Let’s see how CI/CD enables faster time-to-market:
1. Developers integrate changes whenever they are made. This feature enables early detection and resolution of issues and ensures the codebase remains functional.
2. By automating testing, CI/CD reduces the time and effort required for manual testing and empowers quicker identification and resolution of bugs.
3. Once code changes pass automated tests and meet the defined criteria, they are automatically prepared for release and made available for deployment to end users.
4. Instead of waiting for monolithic releases, CI/CD permits value delivery to customers in smaller increments. This method reduces the time required to deliver new functionality.
5. CI/CD promotes a continuous feedback loop involving customers and stakeholders throughout development.
Reducing cycle times and streamlining the software delivery process allows developers to bring new features, updates, and bug fixes to market more quickly, gaining a competitive advantage and accelerating time-to-market.
Learn more about each other
CI/CD promotes cross-functional collaboration between teams involved in the software development lifecycle, such as developers, testers, operations, and business stakeholders. It bridges the gap between development and operations, enabling better understanding and collaboration between traditionally separate teams. A shared repository allows developers to collaborate on code changes and track modifications.
If conflicts or issues arise, developers can quickly communicate and collaborate to resolve them, ensuring that the codebase remains stable and functional. Building and deploying DevOps pipelines provide visibility into the progress and status of software changes. These feedback mechanisms enable teams to stay informed. Frequent releases and continuous delivery allow quick feedback on new features and updates.
Breaking down silos CI/CD enhances the overall efficiency.
Whenever code changes are committed to the repository, CI/CD automated build process is triggered and compiles the code generating executable artifacts. Unit, integration, and acceptance tests are executed automatically in the CI/CD pipeline. Automation reduces the time required for code integration, facilitating developers to collaborate more efficiently. CI/CD often incorporates Infrastructure as Code practices, where an algorithm defines and provides infrastructure resources. Increased automation in CI/CD lead to decreased manual work, fewer errors, faster feedback loops, and accelerated delivery.
Three features of quality
There are three main features of improved software quality and reliability in CI/CD:
2. Continuous integration
3. Consistent and reproducible environments
Automated testing ensures thorough validation of code changes, continuous integration promotes early issue detection and resolution, and consistent environments eliminate variations and provide reliability.
CI/CD Can Be Tricky
Adopting CI/CD requires significant cultural and process changes within a company. It involves breaking down silos, fostering collaboration, and promoting a culture of shared responsibility. Resistance to change, lack of buy-in from stakeholders, or difficulty aligning teams can make the transition to CI/CD challenging.
Complexity in understanding and implementing
CI/CD involves working with a range of tools and technologies. These may include version control systems (Git), build CI servers (Jenkins, Travis CI), testing frameworks, deployment tools, and infrastructure management platforms. Each tool has its features, configurations, and integration requirements. Teams must become proficient in working with these tools and understand how they fit together in the CI/CD pipeline.
Configuring and orchestrating CI/CD pipelines can be complex too. Teams need to define each stage's steps, dependencies, and triggers: code compilation, automated software testing, artifact generation, and deployment. It requires knowledge of pipeline configuration files (YAML), scripting languages (Bash), and workflow management tools.
Overcoming the steep learning curve requires investing time and money in experimentation and hands-on experience. Companies may provide training programs, workshops, and mentoring to help teams understand CI/CD concepts, tools, and practices.
There are places to invest
In addition to finding and paying for a smart DevOps engineer, CI/CD requires investment in infrastructure and tools:
• Scalable build and test environments
• Automation tools and platforms
• Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools
• Cloud and containerization technologies
• Monitoring and analytics tools
Implementing CI/CD requires training and support for the developers. Investing in training programs, workshops, and resources to educate team members about CI/CD concepts, best practices, and tooling is essential.
No docking with legacy systems
Legacy systems often need more automation infrastructure and tooling for CI/CD. They may have manual or semi-automated build, test, and deployment processes, making integrating with CI/CD practices seamlessly difficult.
• Legacy systems are built on monolithic architectures that tightly couple different components and lack modularity.
• Integrating CI/CD practices into such systems may require upgrading or migrating to newer technology stacks.
• Testing might have been manual, leading to limited test coverage and increased risk of introducing regressions.
• Adopting version control systems and fostering collaborative development practices are crucial for implementing CI/CD.
• Updating or managing dependencies can be challenging due to compatibility issues, lack of documentation, or vendor support.
Applying CI/CD entails significant cultural and mindset shifts within a company. Legacy systems may have established processes, roles, and resistance to change, making adopting CI/CD practices harder. Overcoming resistance, fostering a culture of collaboration, and educating stakeholders on the benefits of CI/CD requires dedicated efforts.
There Is Something Good About Traditional Software Development
Although CI/CD is considered a more modern and advanced method of developing and implementing software, the traditional method also has several positive features. The process is monotonous, but different models are used: Waterfall, Agile, or hybrid.
The main advantages of the traditional method relate to its long-standing use:
• Well-defined requirements
• Predictable timelines and budgets
• Documentation and traceability
• Established best practices
• Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
The pros of traditional software development should be considered in the context of specific projects and their demands.
Prerequisites for the traditional implementation
The traditional method suits projects with stable requirements, including regulations and documentation. Traditional software development may be easier to implement for small-scale projects with limited complexity and straightforward objectives. If there is no urgent need for continuous integration and deployment of software changes, traditional software development will also be easier to implement.
Suitable for specific characteristics
Here are project types where traditional software development is considered more suitable:
• Large-scale enterprise projects
• Infrastructure and system upgrades
• Mission-critical systems
• Projects with fixed scope and budget
• Contractual or outsourced projects
In some cases, a hybrid approach that combines traditional and agile transformation may be more suitable for balancing flexibility and predictability.
Weaknesses of Traditional Software Development: No Surprises
Traditional software development methodologies, such as the Waterfall model, follow a sequential and phased approach, where each phase depends on the completion of the previous one. This lack of flexibility can make accommodating changing requirements or adapting to evolving market conditions challenging. As a result, traditional approaches may need help keeping up with modern software development's fast-paced and dynamic nature.
Long way to market
Traditional software development approaches often have slower time-to-market compared to modern methodologies like Agile and CI/CD. And that's why:
1. The sequential approach leads to longer development cycles, as each phase must be fully completed and signed off before proceeding to the next one. The lack of parallelism and iteration causes delays in delivering the final product to the market.
2. With early and frequent customer feedback, there is a higher risk of developing a product that fully meets customer expectations, requiring additional rework and iterations.
3. While documentation is vital for understanding and maintaining the software, the time and effort required to create and review extensive docs slow development, additionally, managing scope changes within the traditional approach can be complex and time-consuming.
Managing scope changes and addressing change requests within traditional approaches are time-consuming, impacting project timelines and delivering software schedules.
Limited collaboration and communication are common challenges in traditional software development methodologies. The main reason is the lack of frequent, structured communication channels throughout development. The traditional approach follows a sequential method, where different teams or individuals work in isolation during specific phases, such as requirements gathering, design, development, testing, and deployment. This isolation hinders effective collaboration and communication among team members and stakeholders.
Manual processes in traditional software development heavily rely on human actions, interpretations, and interventions. However, humans make mistakes due to various factors, such as oversight, miscommunication, fatigue, or lack of knowledge. Manual processes involve entering data, performing calculations, documenting requirements, or executing test cases. Each of these steps introduces the potential for errors, impacting the software development process's quality, reliability, and efficiency.
Consequences of errors and inconsistencies in manual processes:
• Inaccurate data
• Lack of standardization
Modern software development methodologies promote automation, tooling, and process improvements to mitigate inconsistencies during manual processes.
The exact set of what you need
Traditional software development presumes fixed resource allocation, where teams are assigned specific roles and responsibilities based on the defined project scope. These resources are typically allocated at the beginning of the project and may not be easily adjusted as the project evolves. This allocation limits the scalability of the development, as it becomes challenging to quickly scale up the team or reallocate resources to meet the needs of larger or more complex projects.
How to choose between CI/CD and tradition?
To determine which approach is needed in a particular case, evaluate your tolerance for risk and the impact of potential errors or delays. CI/CD practices emphasize frequent testing, automated builds, and continuous monitoring, which reduce the risk of failures but require robust testing and monitoring. With its sequential nature, traditional software development allows for thorough testing at each phase, potentially reducing the risk of critical errors.
Understand the essence of the project
Consider factors such as project size, complexity, timeline, and the need for frequent updates or rapid iterations. If the project requires fast delivery, regular updates, and a high level of automation, CI/CD is more suitable. On the other hand, if the project has fixed requirements, a longer timeline, and a more sequential development process, traditional software development may be a better fit.
Count what you have
CI/CD practices require a strong understanding of automation, continuous integration, and deployment techniques. If your team has the necessary knowledge and experience with CI/CD tools and practices, it may be feasible to adopt this approach. Traditional development may be appropriate if your team is more familiar and comfortable with sequential methodologies.
Assess the level of team collaboration
If your project requires high collaboration, real-time feedback, and continuous communication, CI/CD is more suitable. However, traditional software development approaches may still be viable options if the project has lower collaboration requirements or relies on phased communication through documentation.
How long before entering the market?
CI/CD is known for accelerating the software development lifecycle, enabling faster deployment and iteration cycles. If your project requires quick time-to-market, frequent updates, and the ability to respond rapidly to customer feedback, CI/CD is the choice. Traditional software development takes longer due to its sequential nature and limited early feedback and iteration opportunities.
CI/CD Is Between Change and Stability
CI/CD is one of the DevOps practices; it aims to combat the tension between developers who want to make frequent changes and operations that require stability. With automation, developers make changes frequently, and operations teams gain stability because the configuration of environments is standardized and continuous testing is carried out during delivery. Compared to traditional software development, this is a more innovative method dictated by the development of the IT industry as such. But it is more expensive and complex and does not always meet the project requirements.
You may not have the opportunity and time to understand the intricacies and differences between the old and new processes. Then it makes sense to turn to qualified specialists from DATAFOREST. In our practice, there are successful cases of implementing CI/CD, which gave positive results. If you want to consult about implementing CI/CD or traditional software development, fill out the form, and let's collaborate.
What is CI/CD, and how is it different from traditional software development?
CI/CD is an approach to software development that emphasizes frequent integration, automated testing, and continuous deployment of software updates. In contrast, traditional software development follows a sequential and often more rigid approach.
What are the advantages of using CI/CD over traditional software development?
Using CI/CD over traditional software development offers several advantages: faster time-to-market, improved collaboration and communication, increased automation, enhanced quality, and continuous improvement.
What are the disadvantages of using CI/CD over traditional software development?
Here are a few considerations of CI/CD disadvantages: steep learning curve, significant investment in infrastructure and development tools (with checkbox labels), difficulty implementing legacy systems, complexity with large or distributed teams, and dependency on automated CI/CD testing.
How does CI/CD help in faster and more frequent releases?
CI/CD enables companies to deliver software updates more frequently. Automation, continuous integration, automated testing, and continuous deployment — all work together to reduce manual effort, speed up validation processes, and ensure high code quality.
How does traditional software development ensure better quality and reliability?
Traditional software development emphasizes the execution of testing at different stages of development. It includes unit, integration, system, and user acceptance testing. By conducting comprehensive testing, traditional development practices aim to resolve software defects, bugs, and inconsistencies before it is deployed to end-users.
How can CI/CD help in reducing development costs?
CI/CD helps to reduce development costs by minimizing rework, optimizing resource utilization, improving efficiency, and accelerating time-to-market. Implementing CI/CD itself may require an initial investment in infrastructure, DevOps Tools, and training.
Can CI/CD be implemented in all types of software development projects?
While CI/CD is implemented in various software development projects, assessing the project's specific characteristics, constraints, and organizational context is essential. Some projects require adaptations to fit the CI/CD practices effectively. The CI/CD implementation level can vary, ranging from basic CI/CD for smaller projects to more advanced CI/CD pipelines for complex, enterprise-level applications.
How does CI/CD impact team collaboration and communication?
Here's how CI/CD practices can improve collaboration and communication within development teams: shared code repository, early detection of integration issues, continuous feedback loop, collaboration in issue resolution, and transparent process.
What are the CI/CD best practices for implementation?
Automation is at the core of CI/CD. Embrace automation to streamline your development processes — automate code compilation, testing, and deployment tasks. Practice continuous integration by merging better code changes frequently and integrating them into a shared code repository. Embrace continuous deployment to enable rapid and automated software formations.
How can organizations transition from traditional software development to CI/CD?
Organizations must assess current practices, create a CI/CD roadmap, build the necessary infrastructure, and run continuous integration and deployment. In addition, you can establish monitoring and feedback loops, provide training, and continuously iterate.