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Some things are better done slowly and manually. Others benefit from the magic of efficiency and automation. While coding is a skill that requires focus and meticulous attention to detail, it’s also a process that can be dramatically improved and expedited by building and implementing a DevOps pipeline.

In this article, I’ll share how to build a DevOps pipeline in 5 steps, as well as the 8 stages that your pipeline should include.

What is a DevOps Pipeline? 

A DevOps pipeline is a bit like an assembly line. It’s a series of practices, processes, and tools that are used to build and deploy code from beginning to end. A DevOps pipeline can increase the speed at which you’re able to build source code and deploy it, decreasing downtime and identifying errors that need to be corrected along the way.

The pipeline consists of two distinct aspects: Development (dev) and operations (op). Let’s take a look at the differences between the two:

Development

Development stages are when code is created and repaired. This includes activities like:

  • Writing
  • Testing
  • Fixing problems
  • Creating new features
  • Updating existing code
  • Patching

Operations

During the operations stages, the focus is deployment. This includes activities like:

  • Releasing
  • Deploying
  • Operating
  • Monitoring

The combination of these two aspects into an automated series of tasks is what creates a DevOps pipeline.

How Do You Build a DevOps Pipeline?

Having a pipeline in place will help your team to increase efficiency and mitigate the margin for error when creating and deploying code. If you’re interested in building a pipeline for your team, read about the 5 steps below:

Pick Your CI/CD Tools 

Continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD) software will make your DevOps process easier and more efficient. There are several different tools available today, and each caters to slightly different needs.

To find the best continuous integration tools for your QA team, check out our article here

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Set Up a Control Environment

Any large project will require multiple coders working at once. With so many team members accessing and adjusting the same codebase, it’s easy to run into merge conflicts, redundancies, and communication errors.

Your control environment is a central place that stores all your code and makes it easy for coders to interact, reducing the risk of things like merge conflicts. Look for a tool that prioritizes communication and organization.

Some examples of source control management tools are:

  • BitBucket
  • Git
  • GitLab
  • Jenkins
  • GitHub
  • Docker

Design a Build Server/CI Server

Your build server or CI server helps you determine whether code works, and identify when it’s ready for production. Set up your server so that you have a centralized place from which to build development products.

Perform Tests

Now that you’ve set up your continuous integration server, you’ll need to test it. Make sure that your code is high quality and free of errors by running some of the following tests:

  • Integration tests
  • Automated unit tests
  • Regression tests
  • Functional tests

Deploy Product  

Once you complete testing, you can move onto deployment. This can be done automatically or manually. Generally speaking, it’s best to first deploy manually because the slower pace will allow you to keep an eye on the code and identify any issues as they arise.

This process requires that you have a server infrastructure in place. The type of infrastructure you use will be dependent on the type of software you’re creating, and the tasks it will complete.

What are the Stages of a DevOps Pipeline?

DevOps teams create their pipelines in accordance with their specific needs and every DevOps engineer will have a slightly different method for building out their methodology and automated processes. That being said, there are some commonalities that are recommended across the board.

Let’s take a look at how the stages break down between development and operations:

The Development Pipeline

Here we begin with building the source code.

Plan Stage

Begin by understanding your end user, and the purpose of the project. Which architecture, technology, and production environment will best support you in delivering the goal product? Decide which types of tools you’ll need and choose providers that offer the specific functionality you require.

Code Stage

Here’s where the development team begins writing the code for the project. This can be time consuming, so automation tools are key at this stage.

Build Stage

In the build stage, you’ll take the code and build it out so that it can be tested. It’s critical to build within a development environment so that testing and bug fixes can be performed in the next stage. 

Test Stage

Conducting automated testing will help you identify errors and make sure that the product is running as you’d like it to. Sometimes performance or UX/UI testing takes place here as well. Code changes can be made here to address concerns.

The Operations Pipeline 

Once the code has been written and built, the operations process begins.

Release Stage

The operations team begins by confirming that the product is indeed ready. From there, they build it using a staged approach to check for bugs and vulnerabilities.

Deploy Stage

The product is then taken as-is and moved to the production environment so that end users can interact with the product. 

Operate Stage

In this stage, processes are automated as the operations team configures and manages the product inside the production environment.

Monitor Stage

Now that the product is in the hands of end-users, the operations team can continuously monitor how successfully the product is delivering its intended outcome. How are users responding? How are they behaving when interacting with the product? Decide which metrics are most important so that you can continue to keep an eye on them in the future.

Create Your DevOps Roadmap

Creating an effective DevOps workflow will streamline your production process and expedite the software development lifecycle. Adding the right DevOps tools into the mix will help you further automate tasks such as:

  • Continuous testing
  • Continuous integration/continuous delivery
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Continuous feedback
  • Writing new code
  • Project management
  • Creating a source code repository
  • Unit tests
  • Version control
  • Software delivery

To learn more about the tools available today, read our full article:

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By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo brings +12 years of experience in software development and team building, creating products for the Media and Advertising industries. With a track record of building high-performance lean teams, he specializes in handling large volumes of data and empowering his team to own their projects and products. When he’s not working, he’s a frustrated musician with a passion for football and technology.