What is Continuous Integration in DevOps?

by Alastair Wilkes in

Top Six Benefits of Continuous Integration for Effective DevOps Methodology

DevOps methodology originates from a common need to better merge development and operations roles. As a culture DevOps focuses on improving processes within the software engineering lifecycle to reach common business goals. DevOps includes practices and tools that automate and integrate workflow and collaboration between the software development teams and the IT operations teams. 

DevOps methodology helps organizations speed up their software development lifecycle and to provide continuous delivery of the highest quality software applications and products. When an effective DevOps methodology is in place, teams can ideate, craft, deploy, test, and manage apps more efficiently.

DevOps breaks down the previous, traditional engineering barriers, encouraging close teamwork, collaboration, and constant communication between the Dev and Ops teams. Adopting DevOps also improves client communication, as it offers more transparency into workflows, deadlines, and releases.

When the DevOps methodology is successfully adopted by an organization, high-quality software and apps can be delivered at the fastest volume, and with fewer errors.

Continuous Integration in DevOps

Continuous Integration is 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 refers to the build or integration stage of the software release cycle. Incorporating Continuous Integration into your organization involves embracing more automation to speed up workflow and releases. Additionally, Continuous Integration requires a shift in organizational culture as team members adapt to updating code as frequently as hourly, daily, or weekly.

Continuous Integration finds and addresses bugs quicker, improves software quality, and slashes the time needed to validate and release new software.

How does Continuous Integration fit into DevOps?

Continuous Integration is a key component of DevOps, as it relies on smart automation to continuously merge changes back into the central repository. Whenever merges occur, an automated chain of events, including tests and other forms of validation, also gets teed off. 

In the past, developers often worked alone and merged code changes to the main branch only once their work was complete. This made code mergers unnecessarily laborious and time-consuming, and also resulted in more bugs. This slower workflow resulted in slower release times.

devops daft punk

Continuous Integration supports DevOps by shipping high-quality code faster, and by automating the building and testing of new code changes.

Top Six Benefits of Continuous Integration in DevOps

Customer expectations demand faster release cycles that don’t sacrifice the quality of your software. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to determine whether Continuous Integration in DevOps practice is right for your team. We’ve broken out the top six benefits to help you decide the best options for your team.

1. Smaller code changes = smaller problems to fix

Continuous Integration allows for the integration of smaller pieces of code, thanks to developers merging more frequently. These small code changes are simpler and easier to handle and are less likely to have a bevy of issues that must be dealt with. In the same vein as “more money, more problems”, smaller code changes mean smaller problems to deal with.

devops dunder

2. Fewer bugs

Continuous Integration significantly reduces the likelihood of bugs. Since automated tests are set in motion as soon as code change commits occur, every change is more likely to be well-built, with fewer errors. But, if an error does occur, code fixes are a standardized part of the continuous process. And that means, no more bottlenecks.

3. Spot and solve problems faster 

Mean Time to Resolution is the average time it takes to fix a broken, failed, or flawed feature. Continuous Integration supports DevOps by shredding your MTTR. The frequent commits of smaller code changes make fault isolations or issues more obvious to pinpoint.

By testing more frequently, and through constant application monitoring, Continuous Integration can help your team to more easily spot issues and then solve those problems more quickly.

4. Better teamwork and workflow

Continuous Integration is also a great way to put the phrase “teamwork makes the dream work” into action. With Continuous Integration, developers can frequently check the central repository to see which components have already been built. This works to reduce repeat work and wasted time on a task someone else has already completed. That’s a big productivity gain.

Additionally, if a build breaks, the entire team can see what code needs attention. This speeds up problem-solving and creates more responsibility and accountability for every single team member.

5. Cost reduction

By design, Continuous Integration automates portions of the DevOps loop, cutting risk and reducing the number of possible errors. Fewer errors mean developers have more time to focus on product development and the overall product roadmap. If errors do occur, Continuous Integration allows them to be found earlier (including during code merges, pull requests, and the testing cycles), so developers can handle them before they are at risk of increased complexity. By increasing the code quality from the start, teams also increase the ROI of their Continuous Integration automation.

6. Faster releases for higher customer satisfaction

The biggest and most important benefit of Continuous Integration is the ability to release updates and products more rapidly. This increase in velocity is a direct result of frequent testing, which lends itself to less backtracking and code correction. The speediness of Continuous Integration is tied to its reliance on automated processes. The use of automation makes for faster workflow and ultimately faster releases since decisions don’t hinge on manual actions or overworked, overloaded humans. With a fast turnaround of new features and fixes, your organization not only improves developer experience but builds customer satisfaction and delight.

Break DevOps bottlenecks with smarter testing

One of the central components of Continuous Integration is automated testing. When developers commit code changes to the central repository, an event is triggered so that the new builds automatically undergo testing. The goal of this automatic, immediate testing is to ensure new code is as error-free as possible once it enters the central repository. If an error occurs, the developer responsible can then quickly find the problematic code and solve the issue.

However, 75% of DevOps professionals report losing over a quarter of their time to testing bottlenecks

Complex software development often results in hefty test suites, causing bloated test run times. You can have the best developers in the world, but running too many tests slows down workflow, harms developer experience, and delays release times. 

Testing smarter by choosing which tests to run frees up this common bottleneck. We estimate that 80% of your software tests are pointless. But how do teams know what tests are the correct ones to run?  

That’s where Predictive Test Selection comes in. Using machine learning to choose the highest value tests to run, Launchable’s Predictive Test Selection identifies and runs tests with the highest probability of failing, based on code and test metadata, which increases the velocity of the feedback loop. Overall, this creates faster test cycles and more productivity from teams. Smarter testing delivers quicker, higher-quality software releases.

Launchable exists to fine-tune the tests you’re performing on your code commits, leading to faster tests and shipping, and true data-driven software development.

Learn more about Better Testing With Fewer (Smarter) Tests and how engineering teams are advancing their DevOps methodology and Continuous Integration pipeline with data.


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