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Jenkins is dead - long live Jenkins!

Jenkins is dead - long live Jenkins!


  • Basic Concepts

    • Continuous Delivery

      Delivering Software with confidence, small increments, frequent releases, requires automated tested, automated deployment, automated infrastructure

    • Pipelines

      Pipelines as a basic concept of CI/CD: breaks down software delivery process into stages, stages proof quality of software, each from a different perspective

    • Infrastructure / Pipelines as Code

      Pipelines easily become complex, should stay in sync with the corresponding version of the software. therefore we want to treat it as any other code: version it, maybe test it

    • Feedback Loops

      goal: speed up feedback loops and improve quality of feedback. the earlier the better, the more specific the better

  • MOTIVATION What do we want?

    What are the expectations of the people using / providing Jenkins (developers & operators). Take this as a basis to later on assess whether Jenkins fullfills those demands / requirements or not

    • Operators

      Those that operate / provide Jenkins, e.g. Toolsmiths, Service Providers, sometimes developers that operate it on their own

      • (Jenkins) Configuration as Code

        set up Jenkins with some kind of config mgmt tool (Chef, Ansible, Docker Compose...)

      • immutability

        Immutable Infrastructure has proofen to be a valid approach for managing services. Instead of repairing / patching a running instance, we throw it away and provision from scratch (Repave)

      • Scalable build agents

        Operators want to have an easy way to provide scalable build agents, such that Jenkins adapts to the workload

      • customizable build agents

        it must be possible to provide any tool stack that the developer needs

    • Developers

      The people who are running their jobs on Jenkins

      • (Continuous Delivery) Pipelines

        Pipelines provide a powerful way to describe / implement the CI/CD workflow, so they should be supported by the CI/CD tool

      • Pipelines as Code

        see above: Pipelines easily become complex and have to stay in sync with the code base, hence we want to version them the same way as our code base / with our code base

      • Expressive DSL

        a pipeline DSL can help to make pipeline code understandable for everyone

      • Reusability of Pipeline tasks / steps

        DRY pipelines keep them maintainable, allows for easy refactoring

      • do not want to "configure" Jenkins

        devs do not want to dig down into the internals of Jenkins configuration, they simply want to run their pipelines

      • Conventions and standards for pipelines
      • at the end: deliver with confidence
  • What does Jenkins offer?

    What are the good things about Jenkins, why do so many people use Jenkins?

    • Groovy Pipeline DSL

      Offers a "real" programming language and not just declarative YAML files. Can be easily extended.

    • Multibranch builds

      Feature branches are a common pattern for CVS, Jenkins supports this very well

    • Broad (community) support in Internet (Stackoverflow...)

      You will find an answer to almost any problem / error message in Jenkins on Stackoverflow etc

    • Well proven integration in many tools (Git[Hub|Lab], Artifactory, Vault(?)...)

      There are dozens of blog posts and tutorial on the internet on how to integrate Jenkins into whatever tooling

  • What are Jenkins pains?

    why do people not like jenkins

    • Day 2 operations (patching, updates, zero downtime)

      if you have many plugins you easily break your setup with an upgrade / update. HA setup is not supported out of the box, hence no "rolling upgrades"

    • Configuration Management

      Configuration is spread across many files. Mostly XML, which is a burden for config mgmt. Configs are changed at runtime. Cannot easily be versioned and replicated

    • Pipelines are no 1st class citizens

      Pipelines have been added lately and still feel like an addon rather then fully integrated

    • Pipelines are restricted to linear workflows

      no real fan-in and fan-out. only single triggers at beginning of a pipeline

  • Jenkins concepts for build agents

    what options do we have to set up build agents with Jenkins?

    • full blown VMs

      we provide a VM to run our jobs on. Dev stack has to be provided by installing tools on the VM

    • Docker containers for build jobs

      we run our build jobs in containers. Dev stack has to be provided by building container images with required tools

      • PROs and CONs
    • Jenkins provides both ways (and even more?) but what about configuration management for such setups?

      Configuring complex master / agent setups requires lots of clicking in the UI, cannot be managed by config mgmt tools

  • Implementing more complex pipelines

    The Jenkins Pipeline DSL can handle "linear" pipelines very well. It currently has no support for DAGs though, hence more complex pipelines are hard to implement

    • Fan in - fan out

      E.g. multiple triggers for a pipeline like building a Docker Image that might be triggered by a change to the Dockerfile (trigger 1) as well as a change to the base image (trigger 2)

    • Example: Spring Boot app
      • build from source, triggered by code changes (i.e. multi-branch)
      • run (complex) integration tests upon every commit
      • upload artifact to artifact repository (as SNAPSHOT)
      • deploy to qa stage (user acceptance tests), triggered by either "new artifact in repository" or "manually"
      • once artifact is regarded as "stable", mark as a release, upload to artifact repository (as RELEASE)
      • deploy to prod stage triggered manually
      • run smoke tests
    • introducing furher Jenkinsfiles - e.g. Deployfile

      one approach to overcome those limitations is distributing the pipeline into several files which results in multiple pipelines that can each be triggered individually

      • complexity with branching

        what happens, when each of those "distribute pipelines" has multi-branch

      • project organization / pipeline overview image

        provide a graphic that shows a CI/CD pipeline for such an app

  • Parametrized Pipelines

    • what kind of parameters are we talking about?
      • selection of a version of an artifact that should be deployed
      • next version of an artifact to be uploaded to an artifact repository (semver)
      • credentials that we don't want to add to the Jenkins credentials store
      • selection of deployment targets for multi-region deployments

        have an array of destinations and select to which destination you want to deploy via a parameter

    • properties in Jenkinsfile

      configure the job's Jenkins properties in the Jenkinsfile

    • parameters as pipeline step

      ask operator for a parameter from within the pipeline UI

    • providing parameters with Jenkins CLI

      trigger parametrized jobs from your command line, e.g. read credentials from a local Vault

  • Jenkins CLI

    • using parameters in CLI
    • using (local) credential stores in CLI
  • reuseable pipelines / shared library

    idea: provide opinionated pipelines blueprints for your developers. E.g. each Spring Boot app is build and deployed more or less the same way. Only parametrize such a default pipeline in your Jenkinsfile

    • stick to conventions across multiple projects

      make it easier for developers from different projects to understand each others' pipelines / CI/CD setup

    • 2 design approaches
      • full fledged pipelines (easier to use, less flexible)

        this is the opinionated approach: developer has to stick to the conventions behind such a pipeline blueprint

      • helpers (only fullfilling small tasks, more flexible)

        developer gets small building blocks (e.g. helper methods) that he can assemble in his own pipeline

    • using closures for customization

      whenever you need to parametrize behavior instead of only providing parameter values

    • Pipeline DSL hacks
      • sanitizing logs

        we do not want to have our credentials written to our logfiles

      • CRON configuration of the Jenkins job in Jenkinsfile

        bring as much of your job's configuration / properties into your Jenkinsfile --> less manual effort to set up pipelines

  • handling credentials

    • Jenkins credentials store
    • external PAMs (Vault)
    • providing credentials "at runtime" instead of putting them into credentials store
    • masking credentials
  • integration in other tools

    • build merge requests
    • show build status in commits / merge requests
  • Summary

    • which requirements are met
    • what is still a pain Jenkins

Further Ideas


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