What is a DevOps Pipeline? Everything You Should Know in 2024
DevOps aims to unite development and operations teams to create software products faster and improve them continuously. A DevOps pipeline connects coding to delivery through automated testing and integration. This allows code to reach users while still verifying its reliability and quality. A DevOps workflow has multiple stages: construction, trying, distribution, and monitoring. Each step ensures the software performs as intended. This article explains what is a DevOps pipeline, what they are, how they function, and the benefits as well as drawbacks of implementing one.
What is a DevOps Pipeline?
A DevOps pipeline allows teams to build, deliver, and launch software applications continuously. It acts similarly to a road map but can also automatically guide much of the process. DevOps pipelines consist of distinct stages that break large projects into repeatable, automatable tasks. This staged approach enables teams to streamline their work by standardizing processes. Automating routine duties further improves workflows and allows focusing on more creative challenges.
The software development lifecycle (SDLC) has many steps that a DevOps system aims to streamline. It develops code, evaluates it through testing, implements it into live systems, and monitors performance. A DevOps workflow improves software changes regarding features, swiftness, and reliability. Beyond that, it assists groups of programmers, quality assurance personnel, and managers in working together.
Components of a DevOps pipeline
The following are typical parts of a DevOps pipeline:
Careful preparation is the initial phase in every DevOps procedure. This is where new capabilities or issues are included along with estimates for completion. The primary objective at this stage is ensuring collaboration amongst team individuals from the beginning. In addition, it assists the team in comprehend what users desire, developing a solution, determine what the alteration implies, and guaranteeing it functions well with the present system.
In this stage, teams start writing code based on the plan and use a version control system like Git to keep track of their progress. Developers may use various tools in their development environment to ensure the code style is consistent and to look for any possible security holes. This could mean using tools like a cloud hosted IDE (integrated development environment), often used to make development processes more consistent and speed up the time it takes to set up coding settings.
After a developer pushes changes to a shared document, the build stage of a DevOps pipeline really gets going. This is when a developer can send a pull request to add their changes to the code. It will notify another team member that they need to check the code before the merging is accepted. At the same time, a typical DevOps pipeline will start an automated build process that merges the codebase and launches a series of integration and unit tests. There will be a message for the developers if any of these tests or the build process fails.
The testing part of a DevOps process starts once a build is accepted. The build is then sent to a testing environment similar to the production environment. For example, some companies may choose to use infrastructure-as-code (IaC) in their DevOps pipeline to automatically set up a testing environment for staging. The decision depends on the needs and resources of the company. Some may have specific testing platforms already set up and ready for any new build.
Once released to the test environment, the build will be put through a battery of automatic and human-run tests. An example of this would be using dynamic application security testing (DAST) and interactive application security testing (IAST) to find any security holes. It may also include human user approval testing (UAT), in which team members use the app and note any problems or bugs a customer might find.
To test their DevOps workflow, each company will have its own automatic and human testing tools and approach. Importantly, though, this stage gives companies a place to run their tests without stopping the development process.
Once a new build has been fully tested and is ready to be released, it moves on to the release stage of the DevOps pipeline. With the code verified and its operational performance approved, businesses can be certain that it will operate in production without obstacles.
At this point, some companies will choose to continuously release code automatically once it reaches this level. This is how some development groups roll out many code updates every day. Another option is manually releasing a new build and adding a final approval step.
With CI/CD systems and other DevOps tools, companies can set up a release schedule that works best for them and automate the whole release process in their DevOps workflow.
To automate the deployment process at this point in the DevOps pipeline, companies will use a variety of tools to set up new production environments through IaC or plan a blue-green deployment, in which code changes are slowly rolled out to a subset of users in a new environment while the old codebase stays up and running for other users in a separate environment. With a blue-green rollout approach, companies can also quickly move users back to an older build in case something goes wrong.
When an app is released, the DevOps process doesn’t end. The deployment stage starts, and companies need to make sure everything is going smoothly.
This stage includes putting up the infrastructure and controlling how it works so that rules are followed, and resources can be easily scaled up or down to meet demand in real time. In addition, it will usually have ways to keep track of what users do inside the app, like customer feedback forms and behavioral logging.
Businesses will add automatic tracking tools to the operating stage of a DevOps process to find speed problems, application issues, and unusual user behavior. In this step, you need to set up tools to collect data on the application’s performance and the infrastructure. You should then send usable items back to the product teams so they can either fix any problems that still need to be fixed or create new features that support how users currently use the application.
But it’s important to remember that this is only the “last” step in a DevOps pipeline. The process is actually ongoing; tracking tools help companies find places where they need to do more planning and testing, which then feeds back into the pipeline.
You need a CI/CD tool to make a DevOps pipeline. A DevOps pipeline is a way to build, test, and deploy your code. A CI/CD tool has everything you need for a DevOps pipeline, like SCM, CI, CD, testing, and monitoring. Some common CI/CD tools are Jenkins, Travis CI, CircleCI, and Azure DevOps. You have to set up the CI/CD tool on your server or cloud and link it to your SCM tool and your deployment place.
Step 2: Source a Control Environment
You need a source control environment to keep, use, and change your code. A source control environment is a place that has your code and lets you work on code together, check and join code, and see the past and present of code. Some common source control tools are Git, GitHub, Bitbucket, and Azure DevOps. You have to make a place for your project and send your code to the place using words or buttons.
Step 3. Set up a Build Server
You need a build server to make, test, and join your code by itself. A build server is a computer that uses the CI/CD tool and does the things and words that you write in a file. The file is a script that tells the CI/CD tool what to do with your code, like making, testing, packing, and sending. Some common file types are Jenkinsfile, .travis.yml, config.yml, and azure-pipelines.yml. You have to make a file for your project and put it in the main folder of your place.
Step 4. Setup Automation Tools for Testing
The fourth step uses tools to check your code automatically. These tools help make sure your code works well, fast, and safe for everyone to use. There are different kinds of tools for different checks. Some tools test small parts of code. Others test how everything works together. Check if code is quick, keeps people safe, and is easy to understand. Examples include Selenium, JMeter, SonarQube, and Azure DevOps. It would help if you put these tools on your computer or in the cloud. Then, connect them to your CI/CD tool and config file.
Step 5. Deploy to Production
Next, you release your code for public use. Deployment tools assist with distributing, installing, and managing your code where others can view and utilize it. Various tools exist for containerization, orchestration, configuration, and automated deployments. Docker allows containerization. Kubernetes orchestrates containers. Ansible configures infrastructure. Azure DevOps automates deployments. To deploy, install these on servers or clouds. Link them to your CI/CD pipeline and configuration file so your code publishes automatically after each successful build and test.
Nơ, you almost know “What is a DevOps Pipeline?”. Let’s see how a DevOps pipeline works with an example of a web app project that uses these tools and things:
SCM: Git and GitHub
CI/CD: Jenkins Testing: Selenium and JMeter
Deployment: Docker and Kubernetes
The DevOps pipeline for this project is like this:
The developers make and change the code for the web app using their favorite tool and send the code to GitHub using Git.
Jenkins sees the code changes in GitHub and starts a build on the server. Jenkins does the steps and commands in the Jenkinsfile, a file that says what to do in the pipeline.
Jenkins makes the code and checks the code using Selenium. Jenkins also contains how fast and safe the code is using JMeter. Jenkins tells the developers and others how the code did and how good it is.
Jenkins puts the code into a Docker image and sends the image to a place where Docker images are stored. Jenkins also puts the image on a Kubernetes cluster, which is a place where the code can be tested or shown to the people. Jenkins sets up and controls the cluster using Kubernetes commands and files.
Jenkins watches the cluster to see if it works well, fast, and without errors and how the people use it using Prometheus and Grafana. Jenkins tells the developers and others if there are any problems and gives them the logs and numbers to fix and understand them.
A DevOps pipeline allows the software to develop and improve seamlessly. Code changes flow through continuous integration and delivery, making updates available to users rapidly. This lets developers, testers, and operations collaborate closely. They provide feedback that enhances code quality, speed, and reliability over time. Together, they ensure software evolves smoothly to serve people best.
We hope this article could clarify “What is a DevOps Pipeline?”. A DevOps pipeline streamlines software development and improves teamwork between developers and operations. Using a pipeline, teams can deliver products quicker, more regularly, and with fewer mistakes. It also gives feedback on performance and health, allowing constant betterment. However, pipelines require preparation, installation, upkeep, and shifting culture to DevOps thinking. So teams should choose practices and tools fitting their needs and aims.
Nexle is a leading software development company based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We are delivering on the world’s largest, most complex projects to transform the way governments, companies and communities work. We have been developing smart, technology-enabled solutions to solve our clients’ toughest challenges, demonstrating a commitment to excellence and a passion for exceeding expectations. Nexle is well positioned to be a partner and co-innovator to businesses in their transformation journey, identify new growth opportunities and facilitate their foray into new sectors and markets. We’re globally recognized for our innovative approach towards delivering business values and our commitment to client success.