After learning about the Continuous Development Process in the previous blog post of the series, you are probably wondering what steps your business needs to take to implement an effective Continuous Development Process moving forward. Implementing such a process is not a magic switch which, once turned on, will automatically solve your organization’s issues and improve your productivity. Rather, it is a methodology that requires an organization to continuously reevaluate, plan, and revise how it approaches its software development process. It requires a long-haul commitment and investment. The change will include many small steps, and it might take time until your organization will be able to reap its rewards.

In this week’s blog post we will cover the various problems your organization may face in integrating a continuous development process into your workflow, and how you can eliminate and overcome them. Let’s begin by defining the significant challenges your organization will tackle while attempting to implement effective Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) practices as well as the various tools that can be to your disposal.

Knowledge Gap

The reason many organizations tend to stall in implementing such a process is that they do not have anybody in the organization that has the technical knowledge or experience to craft a proper CI/CD solution. Without proper guidance, it is difficult to establish best practices or even take the first steps in implementing it into your workflow. Reading up on these topics can help, but ultimately the best solution is to seek out and speak to experts in the field.

Another common issue that may arise as you begin learning more about this topic is the proper automation of the testing process. For example, how do I integrate automated testing into my CI/CD solution? Automation of code testing can be complex, and requires proper training and tools for your team. This process is a layer that is commonly a part of CI, and if not executed properly can lead to wasted resources and time for your organization. It is important to note that CI without automated testing can still be beneficial for your organization. You can always decide to implement automated testing at a later step if you are not ready for it yet.

Vendor Selection

There is a rising sea of competing vendors vying for the CI/CD space. You’ll find ads in your inbox, on websites you visit, and hear various groups claiming in every corner of the web to have simplified the experience for the inexperienced. Landing on the right vendor, package, or provider requires an increasing amount of research and effort, and this can be off-putting to companies seeking to lay a foundation.

Selecting the proper tools is essential for the success of a continuous delivery process. Building and developing the CI/CD infrastructure in-house can be costly and very labor intensive. This can lead organizations to forget about building their solutions and applications themselves, ultimately result in the failure of integrating CD effectively.

Solution: Diligent research will help to clarify the differences between vendors to see which will best meet the needs of the organization. There are many options, but we can share some of the ones that we either use or have evaluated.

  • A few solutions that can help you host, review, and manage code repositories for your developers’ projects are GitHub, Bitbucket and Gitlab.
  • Some CI/CD tools that aid in automating the process of moving code into a shared repository, pushing code changes through various stages, and testing until release are Travis and Jenkins.

Buy In

Sometimes the value of CI/CD is not clear to all stakeholders or, worse yet–stakeholders have misinformation that skews their opinions and decisions.

  1. Lack of willingness to adopt a CI workflow in the development cycle: Team members may view CI as counterproductive. Since each member has a different responsibility, role, and priority, they may have a limited view on how continuous integration can benefit the collective. For example, a programmer wants to fix bugs in production rather than running their patch through the proper channels because he knows it will be quicker. However, CI is more productive because it allows the whole team to continuously check, test, and merge the code as they can easily spot problems early on that could lead to the failure of the project. Starting at the top, stakeholders need to be fully briefed on the benefits of CI/CD, and its positive impact on the organization.
  2. Partial buy-in due to confusion between CI and CD: Stopping at Continuous Integration and failing to adopt Continuous Delivery. It is vital to paint the full picture when pitching CI/CD to your stakeholders, so they understand the distinction between integrating code and deploying it. Continuous Integration is an essential precursor to continuously deploying your features, but the two are distinct processes that should be given equal consideration.

Alignment

When multiple options exist, multiple opinions can form and be entrenched amongst disparate stakeholders. Organizations that strictly enforce internal policies, such as manual approval and an excessive documentation processes, can hinder the adoption of their continuous integration process into the developers’ workflow.

Solution: Communication, especially open communication with the goal of eliminating competing views, is the first step to achieving internal alignment.

Cost of Adoption

Organizations need to evaluate whether or not it is worthwhile for them to transition to a CI/CD practice and dedicating developers’ hours to the process instead of doing day-to-day work. This issue of lost labor hours tends to arise in smaller organizations and can be daunting. Therefore, decision makers should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of implementing continuous integration versus maintaining the status quo.

Conclusion

Implementing a Continuous development process can be daunting, and a challenging task, but it is a journey worth exploring. There are many tools that can ease the process for your team, including various plugins offered online. The main business driver for implementing a continuous development process is to improve the productivity of delivering software. It will help you reduce costs and improve your time to market for new features, ultimately providing positive value to your organization and customers. Stay tuned for our next blog post and learn how CI/CD can be easily implemented utilizing eZ Platform Cloud.

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