Everything You Need to Know About CI/CD Pipeline - Part 2
September 20, 2022

Susmitha Vakkalanka
Opsera

Start with: Everything You Need to Know About CI/CD Pipeline - Part 1

Best Practices for CI/CD pipeline

Commit early and often
Every time a dev commits code, they initiate a series of automated tests that provide feedback and inform the team that a change has occurred. Regular code commits ensure that the whole team remains on the same page which enables better collaboration. It also lowers the likelihood of frustrating merge conflicts that usually show up when integrating larger code changes.

By sharing all changes with the entire team (through code pushes to the main branch), everyone stays updated and can modify their own work to match the best and latest version of software. It is wise to commit code at least once a day, though most major companies commit far more.

Stick to one build
Don't create a new building for each stage of the pipeline. Doing so in different environments can introduce inconsistencies in the software, which means that you cannot depend on previous test results. Instead, one build artifact should be travelling through each stage and finally, released to production.

Keep environments pristine
To achieve accurate test results, clean the pre-prod environment between deployments. If environments run for a long time, teams have to deal with multiple configurational changes and updates, which are hard to track.

With returning them to a pristine state, tests that pass in one environment might fail in another. To prevent this, use containers to host environments and run tests. This makes it easier to tear down the environment after a deployment.

Monitor and Measure
‍Most teams will set up monitoring mechanisms for the production environment so as to detect any errors or anomalies quickly. Similarly, a CI/CD pipeline must be equipped with metrics for monitoring and evaluation. By analyzing these metrics, developers and team managers can narrow down potential bugs and handle them before they metastasize. They can also detect modules for improvement.
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Streamline tests
Don't expect to automate every test from the very beginning. Start with tests that run the fastest (unit tests), run them early to get an initial layer of feedback. Once these are complete and you have some idea of the build stability, move onto longer and more complex tests.

Manual tests take longer and are dependent on availability of the right personnel. Therefore, keep them minimal (you'll never be able to eliminate them completely) and leave them for after the completion of automated tests. Instead, ensure that testers focus on creating mature, comprehensive automated test scripts that get the job done.

CI/CD Pipeline Stages: A Breakdown

To define CI/CD pipelines, look at the basic steps: Develop → Build → Test → Deploy. ‍‍

As we expand the pipeline we also have Monitoring → Feedback → Operations.

A continuous orchestration platform can help you design such a pipeline.

Develop
Here we are writing the code, meaning that we need a repository for storing and checking out code.

Build‍
When code is checked-in to the repository, that code is integrated into the master branch. Here is where version control is necessary. In older waterfall style workflows, integration/build would only occur after the completion of a major feature set or large volume code changes. When working in a more agile, continuous model, code is integrated into the feature times per day. Code is broken down into smaller working functions, allowing for iterative improvements and fast integration results.

Test/Quality‍
Once the code is built, the resulting application must be tested for errors, functional failures, and quality. These tests can and should be automated using any number of purpose-built tools. By testing at every build, feedback is received quickly and corrections can be implemented swiftly.

Security Scan‍
As part of our transition away from bolt-on and after-the-fact auditing, security scanning is a critical part of the continuous loop. Security scans can automatically detect vulnerabilities and insecure implementations before being released into the wild and exploited by bad actors. It is essential to include this step in the testing portion of your pipeline — as they say, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Deploy‍
The code is built, testing has provided the green light, and it's time to push our changes to an environment, whether pre-production or production. With continuous deployment, regular automated push to non-production environments gives clear feedback and metrics for how the code will perform when released to a customer-facing environment. After passing the appropriate tests in pre-production, code can be automatically released to production using whatever method or model meets your requirements.

CI/CD tools in Devops
There are a large number of tools for facilitating CI/CD processes in DevOps-based teams including:

■ Configuration Management

■ Code Management

■ Build

■ Testing

■ Deployment

Sign up for a demo to learn how Opsera can help you provision and manage your toolchain with no code.

Susmitha Vakkalanka is VP of Marketing at Opsera
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