DevOps is perhaps the largest growing practice in the modern IT industry. With the IT industry going crazy with the speed of delivering their products, it is important that everything is connected to each other and everything functions seamlessly. DevOps is a practice, where the development and the operations teams combine to form a common knowledge base. A DevOps engineer must have the know-how to perform any operational or any developmental activity as the situation demands. Some of the common DevOps tools currently used are Azure DevOps, Jenkins, Docker, Phantom, Ansible, etc.
Continuous Integration or CI and Continuous Deployment, commonly known as CD, are two of the most important techniques in the DevOps lifecycle, where the aim is to achieve a Continuous Delivery of the resources. A more detailed explanation can be found on the CI/CD Basics Course.
What are Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment?
Before deep-diving into their implementation, we must understand what continuous integration is. To understand it better, let’s take an example. Let us assume that there is an organization called X, which has a ten-man project team, delivering a website for one of their clients. They are keen on delivering their individual project in real-time, without any dependency on any team members for building and deploying their applications. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that they have three environments- Development, Testing, and Production. As the name suggests, the Development environment will be used for developing the application, Testing will be used for Testing the application, and Production will be a live environment, which will be available to the customers.
Since this development team wants to use DevOps practices, they would love to have their code built and deployed readily in their target environments. This is where the concept of continuous integration comes into the picture- continuous integration essentially helps the development team to integrate their code with the previous sets of code in the environment. The integration becomes very smooth, hassle-free, and most importantly, automated.
Once the continuous integration is achieved, the team now looks forward to Continuous Deployment. The team ideally wants to have the new set of codes readily available in their respective environment. This can be achieved by continuous deployment. It would deploy the code in the target environment as soon as the continuous integration is completed.
In a nutshell, continuous integration helps us to integrate the new sets of codes in the current codebase. Continuous deployment helps us to deploy the new set of code integrated already to the target environment. This entire process is often known as continuous delivery.
How to Implement CI-CD Pipeline?
The next biggest challenge that the DevOps engineers face is- how to implement Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment in real-time. Fortunately, with the ever-growing requirement of DevOps practices, different organizations have responded to the requirement and have come up with different tools which can help us achieve this goal.
Before delving into the tools, let us first understand what is a pipeline and the basic requirements of creating them.
A pipeline is a set of steps formulated to carry out Continuous Integration. We define the steps to be followed for CI and CD in the pipeline. These steps will be followed sequentially in the pipeline.
To create the pipeline, the codebase should be present in a standard code repository, Git, BitBucket for example. The pipeline will be pulling the code files from the repository to perform the continuous integration. Also, the DevOps engineer needs to have the know-how of creating the build pipeline for the application depending on the coding language. The pipeline will be different for applications built on DotNet, Java, Angular, etc. The deployment will be dependent on the cloud/on-premise resources created, where the application will be deployed.
To implement the pipeline, there should be a couple of tasks added, which would ideally check the version of the coding language used. It would then download all the dependencies required for the code to be built. The next step would be to build the code according to the language in which it is written. Once the build is completed, the pipeline should check for any test cases written. If there are existing test cases, it should run those test cases and publish the test results. The next step would be to create the artifacts out of the build. The artifacts essentially contain files that are created once the code is built. This is the most important part of the build, as these files are deployed as a part of the CD pipeline.
It’s evident how important DevOps practices are in the current world. DevOps essentially connects the Development and Operations team. It helps the teams to deliver applications smoothly, and most importantly in real-time without any manual intervention and with minimum manual effort.
CI and CD are two of the most important tools in the disposal of any DevOps tool. Both of them must work in tandem to deliver the application. Most importantly, they should be configured very carefully, so that there is no scope of error. A dedicated DevOps team is an absolute need of the hour, as they will be tasked to create the pipelines. They will also be tasked to manage them, should anything go wrong. Along with the implementation of the pipelines, it is very important to keep a track of the users who would have direct access to them. Ideally, no one, except the dedicated DevOps team should have access to the pipelines, as they are the only ones with the know-how of creating, managing, and monitoring them. The DevOps team should implement role-based access control (RBAC) to efficiently manage the permissions.