The 3 Key Phases of CI/CD-Driven DevOps
As organizations increasingly turn to DevOps to meet the needs of their customers and users, it’s critical they establish best practices to ensure success. True continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) testing is critical to stay innovative, and our blog posts outlining the five best practices for IBM i and five steps to planning CI/CD for IBM i each provide a great guide to making that happen. But what do all of those best practices look like in action for DevOps teams?
It’s important to understand how these best practices come together to facilitate more seamless, continuous innovation from development to delivery. Here are the three key phases of successful CI/CD-driven cycles:
1. Develop: Set the tone and cadence for the development cycle
When kicking off any development cycle, everyone involved with the project must understand their roles and scope, along with what tools and technologies are being used and the associated processes and workflows. With that baseline understanding set, teams should establish standups, meetings or town halls on a regular – even as often as daily – cadence so there’s a standing time to share progress updates and discuss task allocation and resource management.
This stage is the time to minimize discrepancies and variables as development shifts between traditional and modern environments. To do so, align everyone on a set of control repositories. This is especially critical if your applications use traditional IBM i code—like RPG and COBOL—in addition to non-traditional code like Python.
When getting started, it’s recommended to break down development into two-week sprints that allow for flexible iteration based on all-important user feedback. However, don’t get stuck in that cycle as teams advance and adjust. Shifting to faster sprints when the time is right allows you to enable faster testing and experimentation.
2. Build: Leverage real-time user feedback loops, automated testing and agile development for CI/CD
With a solid foundation set in the first phase, it’s now time for project managers to strengthen lines of communication with all stakeholders to provide user feedback, scope requirements and kickstart development.
The DevOps platform being used plays a big role in this phase as it’s critical teams can use that platform to track code changes and access shared repositories. Platforms should also be capable of automated testing for detecting bugs or errors before code goes live.
Good data is key to getting the most out of testing. Without it, time spent testing is essentially wasted. During this phase, be sure to generate test data from live systems in real-time and ensure any sensitive data is anonymized appropriately.
3. Delivery and Deployment: Where the benefits of CI/CD truly shine
This final phase is usually the most time- and resource-intensive of the three stages. Given that, leveraging automation for continuous delivery and development—especially when multiple environments or production servers are involved—allows teams to focus on high-value tasks during such a busy time. Ensure automation is set up for rollbacks or backups in the event something goes haywire, ensuring teams have a stable system to return to when they jump back into work.
Additionally, leaders can speed up the delivery process by using a standard set of tools and processes that allow code to be committed to a repository with minimal integration and deviation.
The promise of CI/CD includes increased innovation, resilience and a competitive edge. To achieve true CI/CD, organizations need DevOps platforms that provide a standardized suite of productivity and collaboration tools, out-of-the-box automation workflows for testing and deployment, and the ability to integrate a large variety of third-party applications.