DevOps lessons

What happens when the CI/CD pipeline gets clogged

Coman Hamilton

Pipeline image via Shutterstock

As DevOps approaches enter the mainstream tech world, the common obstacles they bring with them are becoming more obvious. StackStorm CEO spoke to us about the difficulties faced by development teams switching to CI and CD.

“The greatest benefit of CI and CD is agility,” says Evan Powell, co-founder and CEO of StackStorm, a DevOps automation service.

Organisations that have made the effort to implement continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) are able to address customer requirements “much, much faster thanks to an automated end-to-end process from initial code commit through building, testing, and deploying software updates.”

The New York Times development team recently reported that CD has cut its release time from as much as seven days down to 35 mins, while production errors were cut in half. But while many companies are successfully adopting CI approaches, others are struggling to make CD work for them, says Powell.

JAXenter: What hurdles do development teams face in CD environments?

Evan Powell, StackStorm: Cross-silo collaboration, and pipelines that are difficult to see, maintain and update can create challenges for development teams trying to adopt CD. However, there are tools they can implement to ease the transition.

Many development teams aren’t used to working in a collaborative environment with operations so they must commit to extending agile development approaches to operations.

What kinds of software solutions are being developed to make the move to a DevOps approach?

There are countless software solutions being developed to ease the transition to DevOps, for both developers and enterprises. There’s infrastructure automation platforms like Puppet, application performance management solutions like New Relic, continuous integration engines such as Jenkins, and more.

Many organisations are even creating their own internal tools to help with DevOps especially in the areas of workflow management where organisations like Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others have recently contributed open source projects.

At StackStorm, we’ve developed a CI/CD Canary Pipeline which is flexible enough to be able to push any type of code through and prepare it for rapid deployment. We built this pipeline on top of the open source StackStorm, so the entire pipeline is available and sharable for free.

What are the most important points to remember when switching to CI/CD?

When making the transition to CI/CD, it’s crucial that organisations utilise automation tools and treat their infrastructure as code; without treating infrastructure as code – or leveraging source code control processes to your environment – it will be extremely difficult to safely accelerate your code pipelines.

It is also crucial to directly address any cultural or organisational issues that may arise from the cross silo collaboration that is necessary to achieve automated CI/CD.

We also believe it is important to embrace open source software because transparency is at the core of the trust needed to achieve higher levels of throughput.   We believe that not only the automations and integrations should be source code controlled; the entire platform should be open and available to change control.

Last but not least – you may want to consider ChatOps. Via ChatOps, even complex automations like CI/CD are exposed to your engineers in the very chat rooms they use to coordinate their activities. With ChatOps, your team will see the automation – in this case the CI/CD process itself – logged into the chat and they will be able to interact with the automation just like a colleague.  This builds trust, radically enhances transparency, and insures that developers and others do not have to change their context or interrupt their day-to-day work to invoke automation.   

Is there any scenario in which you would advise a company not to take the DevOps path? 

Every company needing to stave off competitors that are more software savvy needs to undertake a journey towards DevOps and in particular CD as soon as feasible. Along the way you will necessarily rewire the way your business works as a team with the result being a much more responsive and hence more competitive company.

Coman Hamilton
Coman was Editor of at S&S Media Group. He has a master's degree in cultural studies and has written and edited content for numerous news, tech and culture websites and magazines, as well as several ad agencies.

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