Is your CI/CD pipeline ready for containers?


Is your CI/CD pipeline ready for containers?

February 22, 2019 - by admin

In the previous blog post, we spoke about the importance containers and kubernetes play in modern DevOps and how rapidly they have been adopted by enterprises for app delivery. In this blog, we take a look at the CI CD Container app delivery pipeline for continuous integration/continuous delivery and its challenges.

DevOps with containers: the workflow

DevOps is a combination of development and operations. In case of containerization, source code goes through a series of transformations to produce docker images that eventually get provisioned as docker containers as shown below:

Docker and container adoption

Let’s look at a timeline from the time Docker and container technology first debuted back in 2013 to the year 2017. CI CD Container adoption has grown from 0% to 20% and is predicted to see an adoption of 50% by the end of the year 2020 as per reports. Container technology has seen a journey from small scale test deployments to large scale production deployments in enterprises across industries.


As shown in the illustration, a container-based application delivery starts by an automatic trigger within the enterprise build infrastructure like Jenkins, that picks up the source code from a Version Control System and compiles the source code as application binaries. These application binaries (WARs, JARs, etc.) are then checked into an artifact repository like Jfrog.

Within the container world, there is a fundamental shift on deploying the application binaries to a runtime environment. As opposed to VM world, where a lot of post-processing tasks would take care of deploying and setting up of the application and its environment, in the container world, application with all its stack dependencies and configuration need to be bundled together as a single docker image. This docker image is then readily deployed to a container runtime environment. This means the docker Image needs to be final as part of the build process.

This means the continuous delivery process in the container world is complex, time-consuming and laborious as it involves manually writing scripts, docker files etc to generate the docker images with appropriate config and environment information. Also when deploying to a container runtime as kubernetes, the corresponding deployment script (Yaml File) needs to be created and supplied along with the Images.

CI/CD with scripts: Will it scale for containers?

VM based deployment Container based deployment
IT teams setup VMs with OS and app stacks. Build, deploy, configure app artifacts on a running VM IT Teams create a single container image pre-built with configurations and app artifacts
App updates are manually scripted and re-configured on a running VM Containers are lightweight and are rebuilt and re-deployed with app updates
Modifications and fixes are performed after logging into the VM Containers are never modified, they are replaced with the new image that contains the fix.

As explained in the table above, an app deployed on a running VM requires a complex build strategy which requires multiple fragmented spaghetti scripts written for changes in the application. Shifting from a VM to a container based app delivery model also involves re-engineering these scripts to accommodate containers which can result in challenges in app delivery. Even if the container based changes are made to the existing scripts, it has its own sets of challenges as listed below,

  • Manual Script can cause a lot of disruption as it involves major changes to accommodate container-based application delivery approach.
  • While writing scripts might work for a single app deployment, it does not scale for hundreds of apps in an enterprise.
  • With multiple developers writing a large number of custom scripts, it also raises concerns over the standardization of best practices.
  • It provides no visual tracking, visibility or data for future use.
  • It required teams to learn Docker and Kubernetes configuration resulting in a long learning curve and focussing more on the infrastructure rather than on the application.

As a result of all the above challenges, container-based application delivery requires upfront automation and intelligence that allows for smoother adoption. As enterprises scale the adoption the need of an automated platform increases.

In the final post of the Modern DevOps with Containers series, we take a look at how a platform-based approach can help enterprises simplify, accelerate and scale their container journey.

From a business value perspective, Kubernetes provides, a scalable, consistent and reliable runtime orchestration platform for containers. Using Kubernetes, enterprises can scale application workloads to meet business requirements. Best, Kubernetes does all this automatically and seamlessly while running enterprise application workloads. IT teams have welcomed Kubernetes with open arms as they offer the feature set that transform your application readiness while also providing the right support.

Interestingly, while enterprises adopt Kubernetes as the defacto standard for container runtime, they still need to fix the continuous delivery automation in the container driven world. Existing manual, scripting and one-off integrations will not scale.

In the next post, we will talk about the challenges with the existing containerized CD approaches and what needs to be addressed.

Containerize Apps quickly to K8s