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How Continuous Integration Improves Software Development Process

The rise of the Continuous Integration (CI) Process and its Value for Business

To scale competencies in the digital transformation era, businesses are turning to agile development strategies. Software development practices are evolving quickly and on a larger scale than ever before. This intense evolution is what necessitated the rise of the Continuous Integration (CI) process and businesses have been quick to adapt their development processes. 

The Value of Continuous Integration 

The concept of Continuous Integration is hardly new; it's been around in different forms and with different names for any sizable project. With businesses actively looking to alter digital strategies and, in this process, foster the overall software development process, businesses started to adopt an agile development model to improve standards, shorten timelines, and lower cost.  Coupled with the rise of automat in every part of the development process thereby increasing Time-To-Market(TTM) and Time-To-Deployment (TTD). The mission to bring agility to the software development process has made it easy for continuous integration to evolve.

With micro-service architectures and cloud deployments going full scale, many developers are contributing codes to independent parts of a product. It is important to understand that without an automated system, one person alone can’t coordinate integration builds. This is where CI has been excelling, because CI isn’t just for mature or large businesses, any startup or even a two developer-team can benefit from using CI.

The CI process emerged as a strategic contributor to delivering business value. CI addresses the major code Integration challenges, where the code developed by individual programmers is tested thoroughly and brought under one roof that is free from errors. This ability had a huge impact on the development life cycle and evolved as an effective software practice that enables faster and bug-free delivery.

Defining Continuous Integration

AWS defines Continuous Integration as "A DevOps software development practice where developers regularly merge their code changes into a central repository, after which automated builds and tests are run."

Continuous Integration Process

Figure: Continuous Integration working process

How Continuous Integration Improves Project Management Process and TTM

The simple reason for large scale adoption of continuous integration in the project development process is, previously, one could imagine a group of developers working on a tightly integrated project in a single repository, and, one or two leads working to make sure nothing breaks anywhere, but this is hardly the case nowadays.  

Nowadays, multiple people contribute code. It becomes important to make sure the software continues to build completely, even if different developers might have done their own unit tests. Developers might use different environments for running their code; it's important to try the build in a neutral and standard environment - which is what continuous integration (CI) does.

Here, developers' time is saved, as they don't have to run builds, make release notes, or run profiling exclusively. Moreover, the developer doesn't have to do any additional examinations to detect the piece of code that broke. QA time is saved by not having to request and wait for builds.

As the managers have better visibility into the build status and with automated reports they can get a clear understanding of the overall stability and quality of the software deliverables.  Similarly, stakeholders have a scope to check in CI dashboards to understand the project status. This way Continuous Integration improves the overall software development process. 

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Topics: Software Development, Continious Integration, Agile Methodology

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