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Azure DevOps and Streamlined CI/CD Improve Custom Software Outcomes

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If you know anything about Far Reach, you know we like to work on how we work—make our processes better in ways that help our clients. Over the last few years, we’ve been implementing many Azure DevOps tools to make better custom software systems

Azure DevOps is a specific suite of tools built by Microsoft and used by many .NET developers. Stepping back, DevOps is what it sounds like: a portmanteau of development and operations. You can find hundreds of different definitions of the squeezed-together word, but in essence, its purpose is using tools, processes, and automation to shorten the development lifecycle and improve quality. 

For us, DevOps is simply a name for what we’ve focused on our whole existence: purposefully working toward ways to build better software. It goes hand-in-hand with the agile/scrum development processes we use. 

Both agile/scrum and DevOps build in opportunities to continually improve, and even in implementing these frameworks, we’ve taken small, continuous  steps forward. We’ve integrated many elements of DevOps into our development processes over the last few years to the benefit of our team and our clients. 

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (henceforth known as CI/CD) is one of the most beneficial DevOps practices. CI/CD encompasses the processes that make it possible to reliably and quickly release updates to software systems. 

Each user story can go through the entire development process—requirements, analysis, development, testing, production—without waiting for other stories in progress. Instead of waiting for one big push to production (or any environment)—each sprint, for example—developers can push smaller changes as soon as they’re approved. This approach presents less risk because the chances of a small number of changes causing big problems is smaller than if we were to wait and deploy a lot of changes at the same time.

By having CI/CD processes integrated into our software development lifecycle, we can rapidly and reliably deliver changes to clients’ custom software applications, ensuring timely updates and enhancements while maintaining superior quality. 

We’ve worked—step by step, of course—to implement a highly efficient CI/CD pipeline. As you can guess by the description, CI/CD offers clients several benefits: 

  • Faster time to market
  • System stability and reliability
  • Reduced risk of errors
  • Improved software quality
  • Enhanced collaboration and visibility

By using CI/CD practices, we can quickly release new features, updates, and bug fixes and have reduced the time between development and deployment. This fast turnaround enables clients to respond more quickly to market demands and stay ahead of their competitors.

CI/CD and the automated processes around it require specific criteria to be met before an update is released to users. Software systems, and each feature–no matter how big or small–that makes them up, are thoroughly tested and validated before reaching production environments. This results in more stable and reliable software, minimizing downtime and enhancing the overall user experience.

Automated Unit Tests / Code Coverage

Using the testing framework built into Azure DevOps, we perform automated unit tests and code coverage analysis as part of our CI/CD processes. This approach automatically verifies the functionality and correctness of the codebase, and if anything wrong is found, we’re able to identify potential bugs and address them early on in the development process. Finding and fixing bugs early is not only less costly in terms of development cost (dollars), but also in terms of potential negative consequences, were those bugs to make it to production.

Once a unit test is written for a piece of functionality, that test can be run automatically any time code changes are committed. These automations, layered on top of our QA testing process, give us further confidence in the code we’re pushing out. Human testers and automated tests catch different things; having both built into our development process is a one-two testing punch. 

Since we’re pushing changes frequently, automated testing helps us maintain a high level of software quality. We know how much of a system—in lines or blocks—falls under automated unit tests thanks to code coverage analysis. When we work on changes to an area of the code that doesn’t have automated unit testing yet, we can build that out as part of the update, making our code coverage more complete.

Clients can be reassured of the quality of their custom software systems when they work with Far Reach as an outsourced development partner. Automated unit tests allow us to detect and fix bugs early in the development cycle resulting in high-quality applications that perform reliably and minimize the likelihood of critical issues affecting end-users. Identifying and addressing issues early in the development process significantly reduces the time spent on debugging and troubleshooting, resulting in faster resolution of any reported issues.

What to Look for in an Software Development Partner

Learn how to find the right-fit partner for software development outsourcing.


While our testing process is thorough, bugs and exceptions can sometimes make their way to production environments. We have that covered, too. Read how we automatically monitor for and handle errors in client software. 

Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

When you break it down to its parts, infrastructure as code (IaC) is exactly what it sounds like: Using machine-readable code, rather than manual processes, to manage and provision (in other words, set up) infrastructure. This approach ensures that the infrastructure supporting an application is consistent and compliant, reducing the likelihood of security vulnerabilities or configuration drift.

At Far Reach, we use an open-source tool called Pulumi to make infrastructure provisioning automated, scalable, and version-controlled. IaC eliminates manual configuration errors and ensures consistency across environments, which mitigates the risks associated with manual infrastructure management by providing a standardized and repeatable approach. 

With IaC, we can quickly provision and scale infrastructure resources based on each client’s requirements. And clients can easily accommodate increased user demand without worrying about time-consuming and error-prone manual setup or configuration changes.

Static Code Analysis

Static code analysis is automated testing that examines code for potential bugs and security issues within a system’s source code. We use static code analysis tools to proactively identify and resolve potential code-related issues, enforce coding standards, identify potential code smells*, and detect security vulnerabilities. 

*Yes, “code smells.” This is the industry term for something in the code that might indicate a bigger issue—like how if you smell smoke, there might be a fire. Examples of code smells include duplicate code snippets, bad class structure, inconsistent naming, and more. Automated approaches like static code analysis help our code pass the sniff test. 

Static code analysis helps us adhere to coding standards, which leads to consistent, maintainable codebases. Clean code extends the longevity of an application by making it easier and more cost-effective to maintain and enhance in the future. This type of analysis also flags potential security vulnerabilities early in the development process. We can fix vulnerabilities before they’re out in the world, making clients’ applications more robust and less susceptible to cyber threats. 

Vulnerability Assessment

Speaking of cyber threats, we use another CI/CD best practice—vulnerability assessment—to continuously monitor for security vulnerabilities in third-party libraries and dependencies. By regularly scanning for vulnerabilities, the Far Reach team identifies potential security risks early in the development cycle and remediates the issue as quickly as possible. We can then push high-priority updates live thanks to our overall CI/CD pipeline. 

Incorporating vulnerability assessment into our CI/CD pipeline helps clients meet compliance requirements and adhere to industry regulations. These measures protect sensitive data, reduce legal risks, and strengthen clients' overall reputation.

In Summary

Implementation of continuous integration and continuous delivery capabilities with Azure DevOps has transformed our development and deployment processes for the better. By incorporating automated unit tests, infrastructure as code, static code analysis, and vulnerability assessments, our clients see many benefits, including faster time-to-market, improved software quality, enhanced stability, and robust security. Through a commitment to continuous improvement, the Far Reach team ensures that clients' applications are ahead of the curve, empowering them to achieve their goals with confidence.

Do you have a custom software system idea, or a legacy system that needs to be brought into this decade? Reach out.