top-level illustration of devops processes

A Beginner’s Guide To CI/CD Pipelines

Among the many sought-after skills for software developers and IT staff today is having a solid grasp of CI (continuous integration) and CD (continuous delivery) pipelines and processes. CI/CD practices are essential for rapid, efficient modern software development – but for many businesses new to DevOps approaches, it can seem complex and confusing to get started with.

This introductory guide to CI/CD pipelines covers the key concepts needed for organisations to adopt CI/CD foundations and maximise contractor productivity. With specialist assistance from knowledgeable DevOps engineers, developers, and QA contractors hired through recruitment agencies like ClearHub, setting up impactful pipelines is achievable and can quickly add value.

Understanding The Fundamentals of CI/CD

CI/CD pipelines refer to a series of steps that must be performed in any software development lifecycle (SDLC). Such a pipeline is geared towards improving software delivery via automation.

More specifically, CI/CD merges:

  • Continuous Integration (CI): developers commit code changes frequently to share a central repository, with automated building and testing against each change to catch errors early. This enables the rapid identification and fixing of bugs.

  • Continuous Deployment/Delivery (CD): new features and updates are automatically and regularly built, tested, and deployed to staging/production environments for end users. Automating deployments minimises risk and quickens delivery.

CI/CD systems thus form the backbone of modern software development and DevOps methodologies, bringing IT and software operations closer together in collaboration.

Most traditional CI/CD systems are designed for pipelines using virtual machines, but cloud-native application software development can also make a reliable environment for a CI/CD pipeline deployment.

Key benefits organisations gain from CI/CD adoption include (but are not limited to):

  • Faster innovation and delivery of new features to stay competitive
  • Accelerated feedback cycles to reduce risk
  • Increased developer productivity thanks to automated workflows
  • Improved trust and collaboration across software teams

A Prevalent Pain Point: Lack of CI/CD Know-How

While impactful, CI/CD tooling requires significant effort and resources to define and implement strategies aligned with an organisation’s systems. 

Without proprietary expertise and familiarity, resource-strapped IT teams often struggle to experiment and establish reliable CI/CD foundations.

Frequent questions and challenges faced by CI/CD beginners often encompass:

  • What specific tools do we need to set up – GitLab, Bitbucket, ChatOps etc.? How do we evaluate options?
  • How do we integrate CI/CD with our current stack (e.g. Atlassian, Jira, or others)?
  • Where should we start? Defining pipeline stages, testing scope, environment configuration, or elsewhere?
  • What level of test automation should we implement from day one?
  • How do we ensure application stability and recover from pipeline failures?

While complex to answer alone, seasoned DevOps and Agile contractors have proven expertise with CI/CD patterns and real-world experience to rapidly help teams through these pain points.

How CI/CD Supports DevOps

A continuous integration pipeline improves code quality by ensuring any changes go through the same validation and testing processes on the same repository. Automating the testing and building side of it minimises the chances of human error, creating better quality and faster-built code.

It also streamlines communication and improves product visibility amongst geospatially dispersed teams. An optimised CI/CD pipeline ensures that there’s a rapid feedback loop between engineers and clients, while reducing manual labour costs and inspiring faster responses.

Jumpstarting Your DevOps Journey with Specialist Contractors

Establishing CI/CD pipelines does, however, take time. Creating and optimising a pipeline designed to offer long-term value will not happen overnight. Unfortunately, for many organisations, building them from the ground up can take even longer, especially when trying to navigate complex software changes. Upskilling talent in CI/CD can often involve external help which can eat away at resources and time, which many companies can ill afford to lose.

Rather than let skills gaps deter CI/CD progress, leverage external contractors for hire through trusted recruitment partners such as ClearHub. 

As an established talent provider with many years in technical IT recruitment, ClearHub has formed long-term relationships with clients seeking the help of specialist DevOps engineers, cloud engineers, developers, QAs, and software consultants.

For organisations lacking pipeline experience, ClearHub’s dedicated team proactively sources, evaluates, and recommends professional DevOps contractors with experience solving real-world CI/CD challenges. Whether needing an expert Atlassian engineer to architect and build fully automated pipelines from scratch, or an external consultant to guide Agile teams through CI/CD best practices, ClearHub curates personalised talent solutions tailored to each client’s exact requirements.

ClearHub pre-qualifies and matches relevant contractors against stated requirements before submitting to clients. The clearer the brief, the faster we can facilitate impactful contractor placements. Contact us today to see how we can help you bridge any CI/CD gaps today.

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