Every tech startup will eventually find themselves facing the same challenge: How can I manage infrastructure support without diverting resources from product development? Sometimes you’ll need to hire engineers dedicated to supporting infrastructure, but for most startups, there is a better alternative: Using AWS tools like AWS CodePipeline to empower your team to implement CI/CD best practices.
What is CI/CD?
Before diving into the AWS specifics, let’s look at continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) and why startups should implement it. CI/CD refers to the practice of automating the process of getting new code from commit to final deployment. A properly built CI/CD pipeline enables development teams to make changes to code that are automatically tested and then pushed to delivery and deployment.
Properly implemented, CI/CD eliminates a lot of infrastructure burden on an organization, and significantly reduces the risk of human error derailing a deployment. The ultimate goal is to automate most of your infrastructure to enable developers to work on adding features to your product, rather than using their time for routine tasks.
The process can be broken up into two parts:
- Continuous Integration: developers regularly merge their code changes into a central repository, where automated builds and tests are run in order to identify bugs and other problems.
- Continuous Delivery: Implements infrastructure as code in order to automate the infrastructure across the entire development process, from provisioning to the ultimate release.
While specific CI/CD practices may vary from organization to organization, there are eight fundamental elements that each needs to follow:
- A Single Source Repository: that contains everything needed for a build, including source code, database structure, libraries, properties files, and version control. This is the foundation of your entire code pipeline process.
- Frequent Merges: Developers should work in the main branch only, and only merge small segments of code, this ensures that code is regularly tested and that only one change is merged at a time, making it easier to track down and eliminate bugs.
- Automated builds: Scripts should automatically package and compile the code into a functional application, this will minimize any chance of human error.
- Self-testing builds: testing scripts ensure that any build that doesn’t pass static tests is not made into a build, limiting the risk of application breaking changes going live.
- Frequent iterations: Changes should be made in small frequent iterations, which makes it possible to easily roll back if there’re problems or conflicts.
- Stable testing environments: Never test new code in the live production version, use a cloned production environment to detect and identify bugs that might have slipped through the pre-build testing process.
- Maximum visibility: Ensure that every developer can access the latest executables, and see any changes made to the repository. Information should be available to every developer, so everyone can monitor progress and highlight potential problems.
- Predictable deployments anytime: Deployments should be a routine, low-risk task that the team is comfortable doing at any moment.
Implementing these steps requires adopting an “infrastructure as code” approach, whereby the majority of your process is automated with scripts. This is where a number of handy tools from AWS come in handy.
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AWS Has a Robust Toolkit For Startups Who Want To Build a Code Pipeline Using The 10000 times/day Deployment Solution
So we’ve covered the principles of CI/CD, and that brings us to our next question: How can we actually implement it? Well, with AWS it can be easier than you might think.
In our experience, one of the best ways for startups to implement a robust code pipeline with AWS is to use a 10000 times/day deployment solution. The goal of this solution is to enable startups to completely offload the infrastructure organizational burden to AWS, and focus on their core business, as described by Cloudvisor’s own Ahmed Samir, and it can cost startups as little as $150 a month to implement and run.
This approach takes advantage of the following tools:
- Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) ECS makes it possible for your developers to develop and run applications in the cloud without needing to spend time configuring virtual machines to run the code in.
- Terraform GitOps – Automates the process of provisioning infrastructure by creating the same infrastructure environment every time it is deployed, ensuring consistency across your development environments.
- AWS CodePipeline – A key AWS DevOps tool that allows developers to automatically change the code of their application by creating a new dev-branch. It automatically triggers a pipeline once a merge request is made to the master branch, which allows developers to immediately see any changes to their application’s code.
The idea is elegant in its simplicity. Your team uses terraform scripts in order to automate the deployment of infrastructure at each stage of the development process, allowing you to implement each of the 8 pillars of CI/CD:
- A Single Source Repository: You use IaC and GitOps to link back to your source code repository, such as GitLab or GitHub.
- Frequent Merges: Developers are able to use CodePipeline to easily merge their changes from the dev-branch into the main-branch.
- Automated builds: Terraform Scripts enable you to automate your deployment process.
- Self-testing builds: These same scripts can ensure self-testing.
- Frequent iterations: Developers will have a simple process to follow in order to reach deployment, encouraging frequent iterations.
- Stable testing environments: Terraform scripts enable you to ensure that the testing environment is the same every time.
- Maximum visibility: Developers will be able to see any changes made in real-time.
- Predictable deployments anytime: Automation eliminates human error, and will make deployment a routine task for developers.
10000 times/day Deployment isn’t the only way that startups can implement CI/CD. If you wanted to, you could build your own system entirely from scratch, but it does provide a simple framework for a startup to begin building their own pipeline, and a place for you to start.
Learn How To Automate AWS DevOps With Cloudvisor
Every startup is different, and it can often make sense to take advantage of third-party expertise rather than spending time and money growing it in-house. This is where Cloudvisor is standing by to provide assistance.
Our team works exclusively with startups, and we pride ourselves on being able to build efficient, scalable solutions that help them grow. Whatever kind of application you’re building, we believe it can be even better with AWS, and are ready to help you understand how to make the most of the tools that the platform provides.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, contact us today, or check out our success stories.