DevOps Pipeline- The Route of the Continuous Delivery

Introduction

DevOps, as you know of it, has become one of the most important and viable options for software development in today’s time. It has become extensively popular among enterprises owing to its continuous approach. Concepts and theories about any technology are fine, but implementing them is the real challenge. Otherwise, concepts and theories are no more than some science-fiction. To execute any new technology we need a structure, some workflow. It is almost like a process flow including all means of implementation. For DevOps, it is a DevOps pipeline. A pipeline is the structure in software development, consisting of a set of tools, flows, and automated processes, enabling teams to control and manipulate their ideas to build and deploy software.

 

Components of DevOps Pipeline

DevOps is a continuous delivery strategy, now what is its goal? It aims at a constant flow of changes into the end-product, perfecting the software. It is done via an automated software production line. If I am saying that pipeline does that for DevOps. Then you can expect the pipeline to be a continuous structure as well. More of that later, but now let us peep into the components of a DevOps pipeline

  • Continuous Integration or CI
  • Continuous Deployment or CD
  • Continuous Delivery or CD

You will often come across the phrase CI/CD pipeline, representing the DevOps pipeline. My use of the same acronym for both continuous delivery and continuous deployment is no accident. There is seldom a clear indication that what does CD stands for in CI/CD, rather which one it represents. Though we know CI is Continuous Integration there is no clear mention that how do CI differs from CDs, or how are these CDs different or even how are these three related. On top of it, there is always a chance that continuous deployment/delivery are being used interchangeably. So, in this section along with defining these terms, I will aim to clear up the confusion.

 

CI/CD Pipeline- A Confusion

Continuous Integration is the process of integrating changes into the source code. This phase is responsible for building the code, this includes compilation, unit testing, code review, integration testing as well as packaging. This is also referred to as the heart of DevOps. These changes show up on the end product in a short time, hence, they know if there is any defect in the codes. Also, how would they work in the real environment? Early detection of defects saves a lot of time and resources. There are a few tools to automate this entire process of integration like Jenkins, Travis, and TeamCity. If you do not want to opt for automation then, there are tools like Selenium, Junit, TestNG that you can use for automation testing.

Continuous Delivery is an addition to the integration process, more like tailing setup to right away put the codes on prod server. It includes test and code-release automation that ensures the code is ready for deployment. It is more like the capability to deploy any software to any particular environment at any given time. It is a highly automated process; it assists to release application updates more frequently. So, each change is not deployed on to the production. Whenever you need to deploy a code the QAs can manually check the codes in the production-like environment and simply transfer them on the prod servers. In some places, continuous integration is considered in the delivery process only. In that case, continuous delivery replaces the integration term. Otherwise, continuous delivery is considered as an extension to continuous integration.

Continuous Deployment, on the other hand, is a different phase in DevOps. It incorporates the deploy phase into the delivery process. In this phase, every change in the source code goes through the pipeline. Hence, it needs to pass all the tests, then it automatically gets deployed into production. Hence, there is no manual intervention required. The deployment of the codes depends on the test suite conditions fed into the testing software.

I hope along with the processes, I could clear up the confusion between all the given acronyms.

 

Structure/Stages of DevOps Pipeline

Getting back to what we left midway, the structure/stages of the DevOps pipeline. Well, as I understand that every system has its process defined. Hence, there is nothing like a standard pipeline. But some stages are typically present in any DevOps pipeline by default. Build automation, continuous integration, test automation, and automated deployment.

Build automation is where the codes are built, and deliverables are set for the subsequent stages.

Continuous integration we have already discussed, it is the stage where developers feed new features like changes in the source codes. Testing can be present in the integration phase itself, to check if the changes are feasible. If not then testing automation is a tail-ender of the integration.

Automated deployment is the ability to get software deployed in any environment at any given time.

There are some requirements in a pipeline, configuration management, and orchestration of the pipeline and production. What are these?

Configuration management is important if you go for continuous deployment. You are deploying codes by setting conditions on automated testing. Most likely you will deploy one or more new codes at a regular interval. Now, the environments of the developers might be the same as the customers, but the configurations will mostly differ. Hence, it is of utmost importance that the application’s functionality requirements and, performance is not hampered rather improved.

This orchestration is nothing but containerization. As you must know when an application is stored in containers they are encapsulated. So, they remain consistent throughout all the environments. Even scaling and de-scaling are taken care of by this containerization. 

If you are planning for continuous delivery, a quality check is a critical point. The production is just as pushing a button, and unlike deployment, process conditions are not pre-fed. Hence, the putting on prod servers must be only done after proper QAs.

 

The Binder of the Stages

Monitoring and feedback are the last but one of the most important aspects of the DevOps pipeline. All these stages of DevOps are stuck together by continuous monitoring and feedback loop. These two move forward the application delivery while assisting an iteration for constant changes. These are as important as automation. They are responsible for deciding the conditions to be fed for application improvement. Feedback bridges the gap between the features desired and developed ones. Monitoring keeps tabs on application usage, performances, efficiency, and other metrics. It also ensures any defects or compatibility problems arising to be taken care of at the earliest.

 

Conclusion

DevOps is not just a software development process but a mindset. Everyone needs to adopt this mindset who plan to enter the process. DevOps encourage the culture of open communication, collaboration, and information sharing. Sure, there is a lot yet to be explored, but the first step is taken when the necessity of the DevOps culture is understood.

All buckled up? Then look no further because Nuvepro provides hands on labs to help complete your learning. If you are in the process of learning the concepts of DevOps or maybe thinking of taking it up. Even if you are an expert looking to deploy these tools for your teams, please reach out to us, we will be happy to help.

References:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLIF9Gnyum4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XusC2o-Y_fU

https://www.edureka.co/blog/continuous-deployment/

https://www.edureka.co/blog/continuous-delivery-vs-continuous-deployment/

https://opensource.com/article/19/4/devops-pipeline

https://medium.com/tech-in-200-words/what-is-devops-pipeline-simplified-in-200-words-cb524f94842c

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