Software is a key competitive differentiator for companies across industries. The faster companies can get new enhancements and functionality to market, the wider their competitive edge. To achieve this lead, enterprise development teams need to optimize their workflow for efficiency, quality, and reliability.
As such, development teams adopt continuous integration (CI) to speed up and automate the software delivery lifecycle. CI, a DevOps process that is integral to continuous delivery (CD), has code committed into source control and builds automatically performed “continuously”. Continuously integrating code improves processes in a way that benefits both IT teams and their business counterparts.
Benefits of Continuous Integration for IT Teams
CI continuously processes, tests and uploads changes or additions made to a code base. The code is saved in a source control management system that is accessible to all developers for testing and reference. Any developer working on the application has access to the most current code. Continuous integration provides many benefits for IT teams, below are three of the most impactful for IT teams and their individual members.
1. Reduced Errors and Manual Tasks
CI requires teams to standardize processes and apply best practices so they can be easily repeated. Teams can then automate repeatable processes, reducing manual work and cutting down on the opportunity for human error. As teams focus less on manual tasks, they can devote more time to strategic initiatives and other high-value projects.
2. Identify and Resolve Integration Challenges Early
Continuous integration regularly tests code to identify and resolve problems early. Traditionally, developers waited for longer periods of time (usually weeks or months) to integrate code and test code, not discovering problems until then. With CI, developers build and test code regularly, integrating smaller chunks of code at a time. That makes it easier to identify issues quickly and pinpoint where the issue is. Developers can fix the problem immediately, instead of building code on top of an undetected issue.
Issue resolution and testing is further improved when teams implement the complete continuous delivery methodology because CD requires teams to establish consistency across environments. As a result, teams resolve the common problems that come up with disconnected test and production environments. Code functions the same way in each environment, so it’s less likely teams will encounter a new problem after code is released to production.
3. Shorter Delivery Cycles
CI is part of the larger continuous delivery process, which focuses on pushing smaller batches of code from development to production faster. During continuous integration, code is committed to the source control management system more frequently, making it possible for teams to build, test, deploy, and release code more quickly. The result is a shorter delivery cycle that helps IT teams complete a higher number of smaller projects in less time.
Benefits of Continuous Integrations for Businesses
Continuous integration doesn’t just impact the IT teams that use it daily. It also has a significant impact on IT’s business counterparts, including software end users such as marketing and sales departments, business analysts, and customers. For business users, CI improves access to the latest enhancement and technology that can drive businesses forward. Below are three key benefits of continuous integration for businesses:
1. Reliable, High-Performing Releases
The continuous updates and test automation in CI helps ensure reliable, high-quality releases that have fewer errors and bugs that could reduce their effectiveness. For end users, that translates to enhancements that they can put to use more quickly to drive business growth.
2. Reduced Costs from Fewer Outages
CI reduces manual tasks and errors, which also reduces the risk of outages or downtime after release. For end users, that provides a higher level of service and increases productivity, especially when CI is extended to CD, where deployments occur automatically across test environments and into production. More importantly, however, it can drastically reduce costs as businesses won’t have to spend time and resources resolving outages.
3. Software is Delivered to Market Faster
Faster build times, more reliable code and tests, and reduced outages all translate to faster delivery of new enhancements to market for companies and their users – often as part of a larger continuous delivery process. Companies can use their enhanced functionality to improve products and services for their customers and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Continuous Integration Enables Continuous Delivery
Continuous integration is just one element of continuous methodologies. Most companies see the best benefits by implementing continuous integration within the larger framework of continuous delivery, creating a full CI/CD pipeline that drives improved business and IT performance.
The most important aspect of CI and CD, however, is to ensure you measure benefits not just in terms of your IT team, but through the lens of your business as well. The more closely your IT team is aligned with your business, the better.