Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines help DevOps organizations streamline their development lifecycle and release quality software faster. Continuous integration, or CI, uses automated testing and integration tools to merge code changes into a central repository as often as possible. Continuous delivery, or CD, automatically moves code through each stage of the pipeline, performing automated tests along the way. A DevOps CI/CD pipeline may also include continuous deployment, which automatically moves code into production without any human intervention.
At a basic level, a DevOps CI/CD pipeline has four stages: continuous integration, continuous delivery, continuous testing, and, optionally, continuous deployment. Each of these stages relies on a number of tools to automate and streamline processes.
In this article, we take a deeper dive into each of the elements that make up a DevOps CI/CD pipeline to help you achieve the best deployment.
A streamlined CI/CD pipeline requires automated infrastructure deployment and configuration management. This significantly reduces the lead time for new environment provisioning, which removes a major bottleneck in DevOps CI/CD pipelines.
Automated infrastructure deployment involves creating and managing the environments needed for development, testing, staging, and production. Sometimes this also includes infrastructure configuration management, but often that’s handled separately.
Examples of CI/CD infrastructure deployment tools:
Automated configuration management for CI/CD uses configuration as code to store and deploy server configurations.
Examples of CI/CD configuration management tools:
Continuous integration is obviously a major component of CI/CD pipelines. Continuous integration focuses on automatically merging code changes, performing static analysis testing, and then building and packaging the code for delivery to the next environment in the pipeline.
CI tools tackle many of the processes involved in continuous integration, including code merges, testing, and build automation. They’re often integrated with Git-based code repositories with version control.
Examples of CI tools:
Build automation focuses specifically on automating build processes like compiling, packaging, and testing source code. While CI tools tend to come with build automation capabilities, a separate build automation tool may provide additional functionality.
Examples of CI/CD build automation tools:
Container Image Build
For cloud native microservices applications, container images are essentially packages containing all of the software and dependencies needed to run an application and a kernel of the host operating system. Container image build tools enable more efficient container image building and deployment.
Examples of CI/CD container image build tools:
A container registry is the repository in which container images are stored and managed. CI/CD container registries can connect to container orchestration solutions like Kubernetes as well as some CI/CD pipeline orchestration tools (like those mentioned below).
Examples of CI/CD container registry tools:
A software library is the collection of data and module binaries used to develop an application. Library management for CI/CD involves securely and efficiently storing, integrating, and managing these libraries.
Examples of CI/CD library management tools:
Testing should be integrated into every stage of the CI/CD pipeline, and the only way to do this without slowing down development is through test automation. Test automation of CI/CD includes functional and non-functional testing, as well as compliance and security testing.
Examples of CI/CD test automation tools:
CD stands for continuous delivery and/or continuous deployment. Continuous delivery automatically moves code from one stage in the pipeline to the next and runs any necessary tests along the way. Typically, there is a human authorization step required before the code is deployed to production. Continuous deployment removes that human from the equation by automatically preparing and releasing code to production if all testing passes and specific milestones are met.
Release automation for DevOps CI/CD pipelines automatically delivers and/or deploys code. These tools automatically release code according to whichever deployment strategy option you specify.
Examples of CI/CD release automation tools:
Security should be integrated into every step of the DevOps CI/CD pipeline through the use of automation and by bringing the security team into the fold from the very beginning stages of development. This practice is known as DevSecOps.
Examples of DevSecOps tools:
Observability and Analysis
The last step of a DevOps lifecycle, as well as a CI/CD pipeline, is the monitoring stage. This is when you analyze the performance of your application as well as the efficiency of your development pipeline. You also collect and act upon feedback.
DevOps maturity requires a focus on continuous improvement, and metrics are vital to this process. DevOps metrics provide visibility into your pipeline, helping you identify problems and bottlenecks. Some tools also provide analysis and visualization of key performance indicators (KPIs). Some examples of DevOps metrics to track include:
→ Deployment frequency
→ Lead time for changes
→ Failure rate of changes
→ Mean time to recovery (MTTR)
Examples of DevOps metrics tools:
Monitoring and Logging
Monitoring and logging tools provide observability into your application so you can identify and remediate issues quickly, shortening feedback loops. This improves the overall quality of your software as well as the user experience.
Examples of DevOps CI/CD monitoring and logging tools:
Use a DevOps CI/CD Pipeline to Make Release Days Obsolete
All of the tools, processes, and workflows in a DevOps CI/CD pipeline contribute to a more streamlined development cycle with frequent and painless releases. The best CI/CD pipeline is one that’s custom-tailored to your organization’s goals, skill sets, environment, and product. For example, the DevSecOps experts at Copado Strategic Services can help you create a bespoke DevOps CI/CD pipeline that addresses your particular strengths and weaknesses and allows you to deliver high-quality software faster and more frequently.