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3 min read

How to optimise your CI/CD pipeline

How to optimise your CI/CD pipeline

When you're doing DevOps right, siloes melt away, and teams collaborate with ease, and, crucially, development and deployment speed up. This approach to building software means you can get features and upgrades out more quickly, increasing the value you offer to your customers. 

Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) is the technical implementation framework that DevOps relies on to run smoothly. Effective CI/CD pipelines don't just speed up your software development life cycle (SDLC); they help you avoid code integration problems, fix bugs quickly, and release securely and regularly thanks to automation. 

Wherever you're at in your DevOps journey, it's important not to get complacent. Even with rigorous checks in place, CI/CD is not foolproof. It requires a lot of attention and maintenance for you to reap the benefits. But by optimising CI/CD, you can free your people up to focus on higher-value, more innovative projects, in turn delivering even more value to your customers. 

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Eight things you can do right now to make the most of your CI/CD pipeline.

1. Take a look at what you track

Meaningful metrics will help you get a good idea of how your CI/CD pipeline is performing. Common metrics that make sense to watch include cycle time, mean time to recovery, and mean time between failures. Over time you can see how efficient your pipeline is, where blockers exist, and where testing could be working harder.

2. Keep communicating

One of the benefits of CI/CD is that it enables cross-functional coordination without needing to constantly discuss every minor code change or commit. But this only works when everyone knows what their responsibilities are. When it comes to regularly moving data from on-prem to the cloud and back, you need effective automation, yes, but also excellent communication between team members. Invest time and energy into building these relationships and ensuring everyone understands how they fit into the bigger picture.

3. Love to log

A good barometer of whether a pipeline works well is when something goes wrong. If code fails a test during delivery, then you need to be able to isolate and identify what's caused it to fail as quickly as possible. Logging is key here. While it can seem like a drain on resources, logging essential information is the most effective way to get things moving again quickly. 

4. Automation that makes sense

It's unlikely you're going to automate everything right off the bat. Accept that manual processes will still play a part and focus on automating things that will make the biggest difference. Tests that your team runs regularly or those that require expert knowledge are the best candidates here. By automating both, you'll save time and avoid bottlenecks caused by the availability of specialists. Once those automation is in the bag, you can move on to what's left, for example, less commonly run tests.

5. Start with security

Speed shouldn't come by sacrificing security. Stop vulnerabilities creeping in by establishing a DevSecOps culture, whereby security is everyone's responsibility and built into the pipeline from the start. And invest in automated security testing tools to flag issues earlier, reduce risk, and lighten the labour-intensive burden on your security staff.

6. Develop a testing mindset

Establish a micro-agility approach to testing, whereby developers are confidently and habitually testing their code many times each day, rather than relying on QA to take all the responsibility of ensuring it's ready for production. Finding bugs at the local testing stage helps avoid them in production and the cost and time involved in resolving them later.

7. Make sure you're mirroring production

Increase efficiency and effectiveness by developing and testing in environments that reflect production as closely as possible. These environments should also be repeatable and quick to set up so developers can instantly spin up a new environment to meet their needs. This encourages them to fail fast because they know it's easy to recreate the same environment again. This is more effective if both developers and operations use the same tools to help them with this process.

8. Find ways to reduce friction

Ideally, you want your pipeline to allow changes to be promoted to production in just one click. By using automation, containers, and cloud infrastructure, this seamless experience approach keeps things moving between development and operations – and elsewhere in the pipeline – balancing the need for security with the demand for agility.

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Go all in on optimisation

If your CI/CD pipelines are not playing ball, there's plenty you can do to step it up and start seeing the benefits. And there's no need to go it alone. We're here to help you optimise your pipeline and take your DevOps teams to the next level. Get in touch today to find out more.

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About the authors

Jobin Kuruvilla

Jobin Kuruvilla

Jobin Kuruvilla is a DevOps subject matter expert, and an experienced solutions expert and App developer. Jobin has several certifications under his belt, including Atlassian products, GitLab certified PSE, AWS, Kubernetes, Jenkins to name a few, and has spearheaded implementing Digital Transformation for teams and enterprises.