What Is DevOps Pipeline | What's Its Difference from DevOps Lifecycle

What Is DevOps Pipeline | What's Its Difference from DevOps Lifecycle

A DevOps pipeline is a set of automation tools or steps that can help navigate the DevOps processes and accelerate the delivery of new software versions. The critical elements in the pipeline are continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD). A DevOps pipeline automates manual things and makes developers focus on achieving high-quality code.

Building a DevOps pipeline depends on the groups and teams that will create products. For example, it can be a team that works with infrastructure (operations) or a code development team. The type of pipeline also depends on previous company experience, the number of employees and the business structure or existing pipelines.

For example, suppose you work with a startup that does not have a pipeline. In that case, you need to find an operation and code development solution for automating some processes in the DevOps lifecycle. However, some procedures may already be automated in a big company, and you will need to focus on building a DevOps pipeline only for some stages in product delivery.

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Is There Only One DevOps Pipeline?

The DevOps pipeline has a few components focused on different processes in software development.

There can be different DevOps pipeline examples for different types of work with software delivery. That is why we define a DevOps pipeline for infrastructure and a DevOps pipeline for application developers.

  1. DevOps pipeline for infrastructure. DevOps or operational engineer is responsible for building an appropriate environment to host and run an app. Moreover, there is a list of activities and tasks that can be automated with a pipeline. Among them are provisioning, implementing changes or deleting the cluster. You can also automate building VM or container images, back up the running environment, or change the network in the cluster.
  2. DevOps pipeline for application development. This type of pipeline is built to make software updates as often as possible. The technology stack for this pipeline is almost the same as for an infrastructure pipeline. At the same time, tools such as SonarQube, Semmle, Checkstyle or Lint software are usually used for coding this type of automation.

There is no single DevOps pipeline for the whole process, but there can be different pipelines according to the focus and type of operations.

DevOps Pipeline vs. DevOps Lifecycle: Are They the Same?

DevOps pipeline is a different term for the whole lifecycle process. We define the DevOps lifecycle as a combination of different phases of software development, integration, testing, deployment and monitoring. It also can be viewed as a set of automated steps and tools that allows professionals to cooperate effectively in code building.

In other words, the DevOps pipeline or lifecycle is designed to improve the whole IT software lifecycle. It ensures continuous workflow, quality software and a reduced workload through automation.

MORE ON TOPIC: DevOps Lifecycle Phases and Principles

DevOps Pipeline Components

There are six core components in a typical DevOps lifecycle. Those components ensure that code moves from one stage to another.

Here are all DevOps pipeline components:

  1. Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). Continuous integration is a fairly new concept for how developers share their code. It allows frequent integration of code changes into a central repository. It makes it easier for developers to match code changes. Continuous development allows developers to run additional tests such as UI and increase the frequency of new releases.
  2. Continuous testing (CT). This component allows developers to run automated testing at every stage of product development. The team needs to integrate a code for the tests to run automatically.
  3. Continuous Deployment. At this stage, all code updates go directly to the end-user. That is why it's recommended only for minor code updates.
  4. Continuous Monitoring. This component ensures practical application or software performance and supports critical security processes.
  5. Continuous Feedback. After the code is deployed, there is a need to examine the impact of release at end-use. This function grounds on one of DevOps' goals – product improvement through customer feedback.
  6. Continuous Operations. It is quite a new term, defined as the process of reducing the need for planned downtime. Its goal is to manage hardware and software changes.

DevOps Pipeline Stages

No rule defines the mandatory phases of the DevOps pipeline, as each team can remove some stages based on their goals and workload. At the same time, four stages are used in almost all cases: develop, build, test and deploy. They can be extended with two additional steps – plan and monitor. Let's look at the typical DevOps pipeline stages briefly:

  • Plan. A stage for identifying requirements and collecting end-user expectations. At this stage, DevOps can create a roadmap for project development.
  • Code. It is the stage for code development.
  • Build. At this stage, developers finish their tasks and commit the code to a shared code repository.
  • Test. DevOps can run a set of different tests after the code is ready. It can be security, integration, performance testing, etc.
  • Deploy. The stage for code release.
  • Monitor. The team monitors product performance based on data collected from end-users at this stage.

Typical Steps in DevOps Pipeline Design

To build a DevOps pipeline, you need to focus on the final product and define what activities can be automated. There are five common steps in this process.

Step #1. Establish CI/CD framework

First, you need to outline CI/CD tools. One of the most common is Jenkins, a Java-based open-source stack. In this step, you need to choose the tool and run it in your localhost.

Step #2. Integrate your tool with Source control management (SCM)

The best way to check that your tool works appropriately and helps you achieve your goal. You need an SCM to ensure that your source code will not conflict with other codes during mutual teamwork with product design. This instrument will help store your code in a repository and coordinate among project members.

Step #3. Build automation tool

The next step is focused on creating a web version of your application. You need to enter the build automation tool and run the process at this stage. This tool aims to automate the cleaning, testing and deployment to a specific location. There can be some differences in tools that depend on the programming language.

Step #4. Install web application server

Your product needs to have an interface for future use. You will need an HTTP server and another environment, which can be a virtual machine.

Step #5. Cover the code testing

Many open-source tools can help you test your code, fix errors and improve the DevOps pipeline. It is the last step before running the app.

This article explains the fundamental steps in creating the DevOps pipeline and defines the essential phases in this process. We also briefly outlined automated tools you can use for building a DevOps lifecycle. But this is only the tip of the iceberg in efficient DevOps teamwork. If your organization needs a detailed analysis of possible tools and specific steps in setting up your pipeline, you can contact our specialists.