Azure DevOps CI/CD

Are you curious about learning Azure DevOps CI/CD? Then, you are at the right stop. This blog will help you to learn Azure DevOps CI/ CD undeniably. In this blog, you will go through various stages of CI/CD pipelines, their features, benefits, and more. This blog will provide you with a step-by-step procedure to create azure devops pipeline.

Azure DevOps is nothing but a robust tool that we can use to optimize the software development process through automation. Know that Continuous integration and Continuous development are key processes in the software development lifecycle. They help to improve code quality and enhance software deployment efficiency significantly.

The Azure DevOps pipeline creates and maintains infrastructure based on ARM templates and deploys updated builds automatically. You can save money by utilizing Azure DevTest Labs, which terminates unnecessary testing resources immediately.

Table of Contents

Prerequisites

To enable a seamless and successful implementation, various conditions must be met before establishing a CI/CD pipeline. 

  • Version Control System (VCS): Source code management is essential for a version control system such as Git. All codebases and related assets should be maintained in a VCS, allowing developers to collaborate effectively, track changes, and promote continuous integration.
  • Artifact Repository: Once the successful build and test pass, the build artifacts are stored in the artifact repository. The build artifacts can be executable files, libraries, etc. The artifact repository is a reliable source. This is where you can deploy packages that you can use in the later pipeline stages.
  • Automated Build System: A build system must be used to compile the code and produce artifacts from the source code repository automatically. Gradle, Apache Maven, and Microsoft MSBuild are standard build tools, depending on the technology stack that the customer is using.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Infrastructure as Code allows you to use code to define and control the whole infrastructure. Tools such as Terraform or Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates are there to automate the provision of infrastructure for working with diverse environments.
  • Deployment Environments: The staging and production environments are crucial, and they should be supplied and appropriately configured for automated deployment. To avoid complications during the deployment phase, these environments should closely represent the production environment.
  • Test Data Management: Automated testing must have an appropriate strategy for managing test data. This may entail the generation of fake test data, the anonymization of sensitive information, or the use of predefined datasets for certain test situations.
  • Configuration Management: Know that Ansible, Chef, and Puppet are a few configuration management tools. They are used to maintain servers and application configuration. They help to configure applications precisely and also provide stability.
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Understanding CI/CD

Continuous Integration (CI): The process of automatically integrating code updates from multiple developers into a shared repository is called Continuous Integration. This keeps the application consistent, finding and fixing integration issues early in the development cycle. With its built-in service, Azure DevOps provides comprehensive CI capabilities by automating the build, test, and code analysis stages.

Continuous Deployment (CD): Continuous Deployment is the process that automates the delivery of validated changes to a target environment. The target can be staging or production. Azure DevOps promotes it by enabling teams to design deployment strategies, track release progress, and roll back changes if something goes wrong.

[ Check out: Azure DevOps Projects ]

Stages of CI/CD Pipelines

CI/CD Pipelines consist of four stages. As described below:

  • Source: This is the first stage of the CI/CD process. When a code change is detected in the repository, an existing CI/CD pipeline will be triggered. The analogous pipeline is executed by the tool that receives notification of the code change.
  • Build: The second stage is the ‘build stage’. It is equivalent to merging the source with its dependencies, which results in a runnable instance of the software for you to provide to users. This section is optional for Python, JavaScript, and Ruby programs; not every software must complete the build process.
  • Test: This third state, CI/CD pipeline, is also known as the ‘test stage’, which performs automated tests to check the software's accuracy and functionality. Running test cases such as smoke, unit, and integration is required frequently during the testing of an application or software.
  • Deploy: The final stage is the ‘deployment stage’, which involves automated code deployment to the live server. Developers make the final version of the program available to users in production and live environments once the software version passes the tests.

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Features of Azure DevOps CI/CD

The CI/CD pipeline ensures that new code changes are automatically built, tested, and deployed consistently and reliably. The features of a CI/CD pipeline typically include:

  • Automated Builds: CI/CD pipelines automatically trigger code builds whenever new changes are pushed to the version control repository. Automated builds ensure that the code is compiled, dependencies are resolved, and artifacts are generated consistently.
  • Environment Provisioning: CI/CD pipelines can automatically provision and configure target environments, allowing for a consistent and repeatable deployment process. This is especially useful for cloud-based deployments.
  • Deployment Automation: The CD pipeline automates the deployment of tested and certified code to multiple environments, such as staging, testing, and production. Automation of deployment avoids manual errors and maintains consistency across environments.
  • Notifications and Alerts: CI/CD pipelines provide notifications and alerts on the status of builds and deployments. Teams can receive real-time updates on pipeline failures or successful completions.
  • Logging and Monitoring: Logging and monitoring tools are included in the DevOps pipeline to track the application's efficiency and health in real-time. They enable proactive detection and solution of issues, guaranteeing smooth production processes.
  • Parallel Execution: To accelerate the pipeline, tasks inside the CI/CD pipeline can be done in parallel, utilizing available compute resources.

How can you Create Azure DevOps CI/CD Pipelines?

Steps to create Azure DevOps CI/CD Pipelines are given below:

  • Version Control Setup
    • Choose a version control system like Git. After that, create a repository to store your source code in there.
    • Next, you can define branching and merging methods to manage code changes accurately.
  • CI/CD Platform: Select a CI/CD platform that suits your needs. Popular choices include Azure DevOps, Jenkins, GitLab CI/CD, CircleCI, and Travis CI.
  • Code Build Configuration
    • Create a build script (e.g., using YAML or a build configuration file) that describes how to create your application, run tests, and analyze code.
    • Configure the CI platform to trigger automatically builds on code commits to the repository.
  • Automated Testing
    • Include your preferred testing framework (e.g., pytest, JUnit, or Selenium) in the build script to automate testing.
    • Ascertain that all dependencies and testing tools have been installed.
  • Artifact Generation: Package your application as deployable artifacts after a successful build and test.
  • Environment Configuration: Define the deployment environments (development, staging, and production). Set up the infrastructure and configurations required for each environment.
  • Deployment Configuration: Write deployment scripts or use infrastructure-as-code technologies to automate environment provisioning and setup.
  • Release Pipeline
    • Create a release pipeline to control the movement of your application from one environment to another (for example, staging to production).
    • Define the deployment strategy, such as canary, blue/green, or rolling updates.
  • Integration and Logging: Integrate monitoring technologies (such as Grafana and Prometheus) and logging solutions (such as the ELK stack) to track application performance and health before and after software deployment.
  • Continuous Feedback
    • Configure notifications and alerts to receive instant feedback on build and deployment status.
    • Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your CI/CD pipelines.

Related Article: Introduction To Azure DevOps

Benefits of Azure DevOps CI/CD

CI/CD pipelines offer numerous benefits to development teams, which enables organizations to improve their software delivery processes. Here are some of the key benefits of implementing CI/CD pipelines:

  • Faster Time to Market: CI/CD pipelines help to automate the entire software delivery process, enabling rapid integration, testing, and deployment of code changes. This leads to quicker releases, allowing businesses to respond to market demands promptly.
  • Better Code Quality: The automated testing and continuous integration processes help in the early detection of bugs and integration issues during the development cycle. CI/CD ensures timely and high-quality software delivery by maintaining a consistent and dependable codebase.
  • Less Manual Effort: CI/CD automates repetitive tasks like code compilation, testing, and deployment. Developers can focus on coding while the pipeline handles tedious and error-prone tasks, increasing productivity.
  • Collaboration: It encourages collaboration among testing, development, and operations teams. It eliminates silos and promotes cross-functional communication, resulting in easier workflows and less complications in the development process.
  • Risk Mitigation: Automated testing and deployments limit the possibility of human mistakes, lowering the likelihood of deployment-related problems and downtimes. The ability to swiftly roll back modifications also provides a safety net in unexpected situations.
  • Feedback: CI/CD pipelines provide real-time feedback on code quality and test results. Developers receive immediate notifications when a build fails or a test case breaks, facilitating rapid identification and resolution of issues and improving the codebase.

Azure DevOps CI/CD FAQ’s 

1. What is Azure DevOps?

Azure DevOps is nothing but a robust tool that automates developing, testing, and deploying software applications. This tool improves collaboration among teams and helps to deliver high-quality products to customers.

2. What do you mean by Azure DevOps CI/CD process?

It is the process of automating software application development. In other words, it automates developing, testing, and deploying software applications. It optimizes software development and deployment activities.

3. What is Azure CI/CD pipeline?

CI pipeline stands for Continuous Integration, which integrates code changes into a central repository. CD pipeline stands for Continuous Deployment, which automates the deployment of software projects in various environments.

4. How do I use Azure DevOps pipelines?

You can use Azure DevOps pipelines by creating a new pipeline and then defining a pipeline configuration. After that, connect your code to a repository and run your pipeline to deploy your code.

5. What CI/CD tools can I use with Azure pipelines?

Some CI/CD tools for Azure pipelines are YAML pipelines, Git, Jenkins, Docker, etc. These are some popular tools you can use with Azure Pipelines.

Conclusion

Azure DevOps CI/CD is a popular tool to boost the efficiency of the software delivery process. This tool enables development teams to make faster releases, improve code quality, and enhance interaction between developers and other teams. This is done by automating code integration, testing, and deployment. Organizations may gain more efficiency and agility in their software development lifecycle by implementing best practices and using the extreme capabilities of Azure DevOps. 

In this way, we have walked you through the Azure DevOps CI/CD Pipelines and learned about its integration, features, and benefits.  This article might have helped you build a solid understanding of Azure DevOps and related technologies.

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Last updated: 20 Nov 2023
About Author

Priyanka Vatsa is a Senior Content writer with more than five years’ worth of experience in writing for Mindmajix on various IT platforms such as Palo Alto Networks, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Siebel, CCNA, Git, and Nodejs. She was involved in projects on these technologies in the past, and now, she regularly produces content on them. Reach out to her via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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