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Automated Deployment Pipeline Best Practices

by Marisa Vesel, on Sep 23, 2019 4:00:00 PM

Knowing automated deployment pipeline best practices is critical to remaining competitive in today's market. While everyone agrees that adopting DevOps is an important strategic choice, knowing how to do so effectively is not always easy. But without it, you'll start to fall behind. Buildmaster already follows all automated deployment best practices, but we still believe this is useful information for you to know.   

With this in mind we put together some best practices to follow when building an automated deployment pipeline. 

Automate Your Current Manual Process

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to automation. Start by thinking about how you can do what you already do faster. There are several steps to helping prioritize DevOps automation.

First, evaluate your needs and what your organization is looking to achieve with automation. Some examples of goals include:

  • Releasing software changes into production frequently
  • Reducing the cost of downtime
  • Monitoring the software in production

Of course, the goals will be different for each company. Once a list of goals is created, they must be prioritized.

Second, bottlenecks should be identified within the development lifecycle. Think about where unnecessary delays are occurring or time is being spent. After the bottlenecks have been identified, think about what causes the bottlenecks and possible solutions for decreasing these.

Third, consider the return on investing in automation. This allows teams to decide which aspects of automation need to be prioritized and what automation will help benefit business processes the most. This helps automation occur gradually within the organization.

Once you start applying automation into your organization, continuously assess and reevaluate your goals in order to make sure automation is on track and identify and solve any new bottlenecks.

Keep Track of Versions and Issues

In DevOps, version control is more important than one might originally think. Version control in DevOps improves deployment lead time, deployment frequency, and mean time to recover.

In a production environment, there are several ways that settings can become misconfigured. Checking all production configuration into version control creates a single source of truth where all teams are on the same page. In addition, version control helps ensure reputable outcomes because it allows developers to recreate environments based on availability in version control.

Automate the Ops Side and Use Infrastructure as Code

Traditionally, operations infrastructure is a manual process. However, manual intervention can be time-consuming, costly, and risks human error. In addition, manually going through the entire process of deploying an application causes a slow release process.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is a method to provision and manage IT infrastructure through the use of source code, rather than through standard operating procedures and manual processes. It treats servers, databases, network, and other infrastructures like software, which helps configure and deploy them quickly.

Using IaC increases speed and simplicity, ensures configuration consistency, minimizes risk of human error, and increases efficiency in software development. Inedo’s Otter tool is a configuration management tool that allows you to eliminate server drift across teams and instantly do load-balancing to ensure you can get new code out when you want.

a diagram of Otter configuration of servers

Automate Testing

Like many manual tasks, manual testing can lead to a risk of errors and increase time it takes for a build to reach production.

There are five categories of testing and automation:

  • Integration Testing: Integration testing is the first stage of testing and serves as a verification that the changes are integrated into the larger application and are ready for the next stage of testing. Automating integration testing allows for bugs and breaks to be identified and fixed continuously.
  • Functional Testing: Functional testing is performed in order to determine the quality of the software by verifying that all necessary features meet the formal test scripts. Automating this process ensures that each feature is tested through the appropriate scenarios and functions appropriately before moving forward in the pipeline.
  • Acceptance Testing: Acceptance testing is a way to validate that the correct software was created to meet the end-user’s needs. In automated testing, you are able to send the software down two different paths: both an ideal and an error scenario. In addition to confirming that this software meets the end-users’ needs, this will also help ensure that the user will be satisfied with how the software is running. 
  • Quality Testing: Quality testing is completed to ensure that all non-functional requirements are met. The goal of non-functional testing is to increase reliability, usability, and maintainability of the product. Automating this type of testing ensures that all aspects are tested and addressed appropriately before delivering the software to an end-user.
  • Staging Testing: In staging testing, there is verification that the software can be deployed to an environment that matches the production environment. This is an important step because it acts like a dress rehearsal for the actual deployment. Staging the deployment helps developers see any errors or issues that may arise in the actual deployment and make sure these are fixed prior to deployment.

release process with security involved

Generating builds and testing them automatically will help ensure builds aren’t deployed until they are ready to go out successfully.

Keep Security in Mind at All Times

Security is an integral part of the development lifecycle. However, security is often overlooked or seen as a hindrance to production. In fact, security should be made a priority in order to maintain compliance and protect confidential data. Security should be implemented at all four checkpoints of production (development, build, pre-production deploy, and push to production) in order to create higher quality software.

a diagram of a complex release process

For example, Inedo’s ProGet is able to scan packages from public repositories for vulnerabilities. This allows developers to be able to fix and patch vulnerabilities prior to pushing a build live.

Automated Deployment Pipelines Increase Speed While Reducing Errors

Automation is a huge component of today’s software development lifecycle. We hope these best practices help you use automation in your pipelines to the fullest extent. 

Already have a custom deployment process you like? No problem, BuildMaster allows you to easily script your own. BuildMaster is powered by the Inedo Execution Engine, allowing your organization to automate even the most complex deployments with a simple, declarative syntax.  

Try BuildMaster for free to see how automated deployment pipelines and other DevOps tools can help you continuously delivery anything, anywhere.

Download BuildMaster Today


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