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Accelerating Software Delivery with Git in DevOps and CI/CD Pipelines

September 5, 2023
Written by
Vishnu Prasad K

Speed. Collaboration. Continuous delivery.  Git, a game-changer that goes beyond mere version control, has become an essential cornerstone of DevOps and CI/CD practices. With its distributed nature and seamless collaboration capabilities, Git empowers developers to work together efficiently, track changes effortlessly, and ensure the smooth flow of code from development to deployment. Exploring the role that Git plays in DevOps and CI/CD is essential in uncovering driving agile and reliable software delivery. Are you ready?

Table of Contents

  1. Why use Git for DevOps & CI/CD?
  2. Git and Continuous Deployment (CD)
  3. Automatic deployment of builds
  4. GitOps: Managing Infrastructure-as-Code
  5. Example CI/CD pull pipeline
  6. Optimizing DevOps and CI/CD Workflows with Git and AppSecEngineer

Why use Git for DevOps & CI/CD?

Git is an indispensable tool for DevOps and CI/CD due to its distributed version control capabilities and seamless collaboration features. It enables developers to work independently and concurrently on projects while facilitating efficient code management and fostering teamwork. With Git, teams can easily track changes, experiment with different branches, and merge code effortlessly, ensuring a streamlined development process and enabling continuous integration and delivery of high-quality software.

Centralized and distributed code repository

Git provides both centralized and distributed code repository models that offer flexibility to accommodate different development workflows. Here's how they contribute to the benefits of using Git for DevOps and CI/CD:

  • Seamless collaboration among developers. Git's distributed nature allows developers to have their own local copy of the entire repository, which enables them to work independently on their local copy, making changes, creating branches, and experimenting without affecting the main codebase.
  • Offline work capability. Developers can commit changes, create branches, and perform various Git operations without requiring a constant connection to a central server. This is particularly beneficial for distributed teams, developers working in remote locations, or scenarios where an internet connection may not be readily available.
  • Committing changes to Git. Commits in Git are lightweight and do not require network access for a rapid and efficient process. Each commit represents a coherent and atomic unit of work that captures the changes made to the code.

Branching and merging

Git's branching and merging capabilities empower developers to work on different tasks concurrently, isolate changes in separate branches, and seamlessly integrate those changes back into the main codebase. Branching and merging are essential features of Git that greatly contribute to its usefulness in DevOps and CI/CD workflows. Let's explore these concepts in the context of using Git for development:

  • Adding code to branches. Branches are independent lines of development that allow developers to work on different features, bug fixes, or experiments simultaneously. Developers can add code, make modifications, and commit their changes to their respective branches, encouraging parallel development, fostering collaboration, and enabling teams to work on multiple tasks concurrently.
  • Merging branches. Git provides various merging strategies, like fast-forward merges and three-way merges, to bring changes from one branch into another. Merging integrates the code modifications from the source branch into the target branch, ensuring a cohesive and unified codebase. Developers consolidate their work, incorporate new features, and resolve any conflicts that may arise due to overlapping changes by merging branches.
  • Pull requests. These are mechanisms commonly used in Git-based collaboration platforms (such as GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket) to facilitate code review and collaboration before merging branches. Pull requests provide an opportunity for peer review and for other team members to review the code, provide feedback, suggest changes, or raise any concerns. 

Continuous Integration (CI)

Continuous Integration (CI) is a software development approach that puts emphasis on integrating code changes frequently and automatically. With the adoption of CI practices, development teams can reduce integration issues, improve code quality through automated testing, and achieve faster feedback loops for more efficient software delivery and improved overall development productivity. Here are key aspects of CI and its benefits:

  • Integration of code multiple times a day. Instead of waiting for long periods to merge their code, developers can merge their changes frequently, often several times a day. This minimizes the risk of conflicts and integration issues that can arise when code changes diverge over time.
  • Automated testing (SAST, code review). CI relies heavily on automated testing to ensure code quality and detect issues promptly. As part of the CI process, automated tests, including unit tests, integration tests, and other types of tests, are executed automatically whenever code changes are integrated. Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools can be used to analyze the code for security vulnerabilities and coding best practices.
  • Faster release cycles. CI promotes faster release cycles by enabling teams to iterate and deliver new features more frequently. It reduces the time between development and deployment for faster feedback loops and accelerates the overall software delivery process.

Git and Continuous Deployment (CD)

Continuous Deployment (CD) is a software development practice that aims to automate the deployment process for frequent and reliable releases of software. It involves automating build, testing, and deployment pipelines to ensure that validated code changes are automatically deployed to production or target environments. Git's integration with CD supports the continuous and efficient delivery of software for teams to respond rapidly to customer needs and deliver value at an accelerated pace.

Automatic deployment of builds

The CI/CD pipeline relies on Git to determine the scope and content of the changes made to the codebase to guarantee that only validated and tested code changes are deployed. Through the use of Git in the CI/CD pipeline, teams can effectively manage code changes, collaborate seamlessly, and ensure the integrity of the deployed software. Git's version control capabilities enable the pipeline to track the progression of the codebase, handle branching and merging, and facilitate rollbacks if necessary.

Deployment to Servers

In traditional server-based environments, the automated deployment process involves transferring the build artifacts to the designated servers. This can be done using secure file transfer protocols (e.g., FTP, SCP) or through deployment automation tools (e.g., Ansible, Chef, Puppet) or configuration management tools that may help for consistent server configurations.

Deployment to Cloud Platforms

For cloud-based deployments, the CI/CD pipeline interacts with cloud provider APIs to automate the deployment process. Cloud-native tools like AWS CodeDeploy, Azure DevOps, or Google Cloud Build provide seamless integration with CI/CD pipelines for automatic deployment of builds to cloud environments. Infrastructure-as-code frameworks such as AWS CloudFormation or Azure Resource Manager templates can be utilized to define and provision the necessary cloud resources.

Deployment to Kubernetes Clusters

In containerized environments, such as Kubernetes, the CI/CD pipeline orchestrates the deployment of builds as containers. The build artifacts are packaged as Docker containers or other container formats and pushed to a container registry. Kubernetes deployment manifests (e.g., YAML files) define the desired state of the application, including the container image, resource requirements, and deployment configurations. Tools like Kubernetes Operators or Helm charts can simplify the deployment process and enable more advanced management capabilities.

Target Environment Deployment

The CI/CD pipeline allows for deployment to different target environments, such as testing, staging, or production. Deployment strategies like blue-green deployments, canary releases, or feature toggles can be employed to safely roll out the new build to the target environment while minimizing downtime and mitigating risks. Environment-specific configuration files or environment variables can be utilized to customize the deployment settings for each environment.

GitOps: Managing Infrastructure-as-Code

GitOps is an operational model that makes use of Git as the exclusive source of truth for managing infrastructure-as-code (IaC) and automating the management of infrastructure and application deployments. It combines the principles of DevOps, Git version control, and declarative infrastructure definition to provide a streamlined and auditable approach to managing infrastructure.

The adoption of GitOps for managing infrastructure-as-code allows organizations to achieve greater consistency, traceability, and automation in their infrastructure management. The declarative nature of infrastructure definitions allows for reproducibility and scalability. GitOps brings the benefits of DevOps principles to infrastructure management, improving efficiency, reliability, and agility in deploying and managing infrastructure resources. Here's an overview of GitOps and its role in managing infrastructure-as-code:

  1. Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC). IaC is the practice of defining and provisioning infrastructure resources, such as servers, networks, and databases, using code rather than manual configurations. It enables infrastructure to be treated as code for versioning, collaboration, and automation.
  2. Git as the Single Source of Truth. In GitOps, Git acts as the single source of truth for managing infrastructure. Infrastructure configurations, deployment manifests, and other relevant files are stored in a Git repository. Git's version control capabilities provide a historical record of changes, facilitate collaboration, and enable easy rollbacks if needed.
  3. Declarative Infrastructure Definition. GitOps relies on declarative infrastructure definitions, where desired state configurations are specified in code. Tools like Kubernetes YAML files or infrastructure provisioning tools (e.g., Terraform) define the desired infrastructure state. These declarative configurations are committed to the Git repository to guarantee consistency and reproducibility across environments.
  4. Continuous Deployment of Infrastructure. With GitOps, infrastructure deployments are triggered automatically based on code changes in the Git repository. Whenever changes are committed, the CI/CD pipeline detects them and deploys the updated infrastructure configuration to the target environment for a continuous deployment approach.
  5. Infrastructure Synchronization and Reconciliation. GitOps maintains the desired infrastructure state by continuously synchronizing the actual infrastructure with the declared state stored in Git. GitOps tools monitor the Git repository, detect changes, and reconcile the infrastructure to match the desired state. This ensures that the infrastructure remains in the desired configuration, even if manual changes are made outside of the GitOps process.

Example CI/CD pull pipeline

CI/CD pull pipelines help development teams to automate the build, test, and deployment process for a faster and more reliable software delivery. Pull requests and code reviews foster collaboration and maintain code quality, while the CI/CD pipeline automates the steps from code changes to production deployment, ensuring a streamlined and efficient software release process.

Step #1: Running the CI process and creating a container image:

  • Developers create a pull request in the Git code repository.
  • CI pipeline, triggered by the pull request, retrieves the code changes from Git.
  • Code changes are compiled, tests are executed, and code quality checks are performed.
  • A container image is built, including the application's dependencies and artifacts, using tools like Docker.

Step #2: Pushing the image to a private Docker registry:

  • The CI/CD pipeline pushes the container image, created from the Git-managed code to a private Docker registry.
  • The registry serves as a centralized repository for managing container images.
  • The image is stored in the registry with versioning based on the Git commit or tag.

Step #3: Git-triggered deployment using a workflow engine (e.g., Argo):

  • The pull request, once approved and merged into the main branch in Git, triggers the CD phase.
  • A workflow engine, such as Argo, detects the changes in the Git repository, including the updated code and container image.
  • The workflow engine initiates the deployment workflow based on the Git-managed changes.

Step #4: Deployment on a Kubernetes cluster:

  • The deployment workflow, orchestrated by the workflow engine, interacts with the Kubernetes cluster.
  • Kubernetes manifests (YAML files) stored in Git define the desired state of the application deployment.
  • The workflow engine interacts with the Kubernetes API, pulling the relevant manifests from Git to create the necessary resources (e.g., deployments, services) on the Kubernetes cluster.
  • The container image, built from the Git-managed code, is deployed to the Kubernetes cluster according to the specified Git-based configurations.

Optimizing DevOps and CI/CD Workflows with Git and AppSecEngineer

Git and DevOps are closely intertwined, with Git serving as a fundamental tool in the DevOps workflow. Git enables version control, collaborative code management, and seamless integration of changes. Its branching and merging capabilities facilitate parallel development and streamlined collaboration among team members. Git's ability to track and manage code changes empowers teams to implement continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) practices, automating the software delivery pipeline.

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Source for article
Vishnu Prasad K

Vishnu Prasad K

Vishnu Prasad is a DevSecOps Lead at we45. A DevSecOps and Security Automation wizard, he has implemented security in DevOps for numerous Fortune 500 companies. Vishnu has experience in Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery across various verticals, using tools like Jenkins, Selenium, Docker, and other DevOps tools. His role sees him automating SAST, DAST, and SCA security tools at every phase of the build pipeline. He commands knowledge of every major security tool out there, including ZAP, Burp, Findsecbugs, and npm audit, among many others. He's a tireless innovator, having Dockerized his entire security automation process for cross-platform support to build pipelines seamlessly. When AFK, he is either pouring over Investment journals or in the swimming pool.

Vishnu Prasad K


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