CI/CD from scratch

To start a brand new CI/CD project three tools are necessary:

  • Git, a source control tool;
  • Nexus, a binary repository tool; and
  • Jenkins, an automation tool.

The above list are widely used FLOSS projects. Any other set of tools will fit the bill. There are two rules to follow no matter what:

  • there is absolutely no space for manual steps, from development to deployment in live environments. It means that every test and deployment must be automated and scripted; and
  • every piece of code, configuration and scripts must be kept in source control.

Source control

Git or any other source control tool should be used just to help the development process. Versioning is done with an artefactory, in our case, Nexus.

In source control, no user is allowed to merge to master. Merge to master is possible only via a pull request (PR). Use this rule everywhere, even in your personal projects where you are the unique contributor!

Artefactory

In an artefactory, for instance Nexus, release versions ready to be deployed are published. Imagine you want to deploy version 2.3.4 to Prod environment. A deployment script (more about it later) grabs the artefact from Nexus and place it in the designated place in the Prod environment.

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) is the hardest prat in a modern software project. In modern projects CI/CD is where the maturity level of a team really shines.

CI

CI uses Jenkins scripts. Here we enforce rules such as that you can not open a PR if the code does not compile and passes static code analysis.

When a PR is accepted a Jenkins script should upload the corresponding release version to the artefactory.

CD

CD is hard, really hard. Never ever underestimate the effort a team needs to put on it to get it right. There are no established best practices, blueprints, open-source projects from where to begin. Watch Yevgeniy Brikman’s Youtube presentation “Lessons from 300k+ Lines of Infrastructure Code“.

One of the difficulties inherent to CD is the amount of tools you need to use, synchronize and decide on how to use. For instance, in my current project we are using Ansible, Terraform, Helm, Jenkins, JenkinsX, and more. Do not forget that all the required scripting is itself stored in Git. Often times these scripts have different parametrizations according to the deployment environment, and these parametrizations are stored in Git too.

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