Using Jenkins as Your Go-to CI/CD Tool
This article presents how tools like Jenkins can help reach the goals of the CI/CD pipeline to maintain a continuous flow of software updates in production.
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Everyone loves Agile and the way it is replacing all the older methodologies and development models with a streamlined and sustainable system for faster delivery cycles. However, the ever-prevailing manual testing practice has always kept the QA teams from entirely adopting Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, making Agility unreachable. Fortunately, tools like Jenkins help reach the goals of the CI/CD pipeline, i.e., to maintain a continuous flow of software updates in production and shorter release cycles at reduced costs.
Jenkins and Its Relation to DevOps and CI/CD
We know that Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are integral parts of the DevOps process and are inevitable in the Agile approach. It has completely changed the way the development and QA team delivers software. Let us briefly review DevOps, CI/CD pipeline, and Jenkins before moving ahead.
In simple terms, DevOps is an engineering approach to unify the development and IT operations to improve and minimize the software development lifecycle. It aims at delivering high-quality software at faster speeds as compared to traditional methods.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline is the set of steps aimed at improving the software delivery using the DevOps approach. It enables the development team to handle frequent code changes for faster and more reliable product delivery. This entire process is automated using CI/CD tools like Jenkins that provide continuous monitoring of the app and providing reports on the status.
Jenkins was earlier known as Hudson. It was started in 2004 by Kohsuke Kawaguchi, who worked as a developer in Sun Microsystems. Kohsuke did not like that he had to build the code and fix the errors repetitively. So, he created an automation server to do the job in lesser time. In 2011, he renamed Hudson as Jenkins because Oracle, who owned Sun, had a dispute with Hudson’s open source community. Kohsuke open-sourced it to the community and made it available to the world. Soon, Jenkins became popular and still leads the market.
- Jenkins is a leading open-source CI/CD tool used to deliver apps faster by introducing automation at different software development stages.
- It is written in the JAVA Programming language and is a server-based application using servers such as Apache Tomcat. Even though Jenkins is free, the server on which it runs needs constant updates and maintenance.
- Jenkins facilitates CI/CD by automating tasks like build, test, deliver and deploy the software.
- Jenkins has a rich plug-in ecosystem that allows it to integrate itself with source-code repository hosting parties like GitHub and BitBucket.
- It can also integrate with cloud platforms like Amazon, Google Cloud, VMWare, Digital Ocean.
- It allows continuity in the software builds, enabling developers to detect errors early.
- It is easy to install and configure on popular platforms such as Windows UNIX and Mac OS.
- Most importantly, its master-slave feature allows the distribution of jobs across various platforms. In simple terms, the Jenkins server acts as a master that handles scheduling build jobs and further sharing those builds to the slaves for execution. It requests slaves to perform testing and generate reports.
Why Choose Jenkins as Our Go-to CI/CD Tool?
A. Concurrent Approach
The development team is always building some software, and the need for development is ever-prevailing. The strength of Jenkins lies in handling this scenario adeptly with the help of a concurrent and parallel approach to CI/CD. This feature allows Jenkins to perform multiple types of tasks parallelly, allowing it more space and time for handling what is crucial. It enables teams to build, test, deliver, and deploy faster than ever.
For businesses, Jenkins standardizes the software development process and allows quick adoption of changes and control over software quality. Jenkins gives comfort and confidence to the team because they know that the final product has gone through multiple checks and tests before reaching the end customer. Well-established pipelines act as a guideline for the new teams. Developers, on the other hand, establish a streamlined process for developing similar kinds of software. With the help of flexible and equipped pipeline configuration language, one can perform CI/CD, successfully.
C. Tools Versions
Using the right version is critical for Jenkins CI/CD pipelines. Jenkins only needs a single line of source code to bootstrap any development tool version. There can be many tool versions of Jenkins, but the team has to run and add only required versions in their respective pipelines.
Plugins help integrate multiple enterprise systems in a significantly lesser time. Although there should be proper management of the plugins, Jenkins Plugins, however, smoothen the integration with the third-party platforms. Jenkins provides a default plugin list for integrating different tools and services. The most commonly used plugins are Kubernetes, Jenkins templating engine, Credentials, etc.
Before and After a Jenkins Scenario
Let’s have a look at a before-after scenario to understand how Jenkins has changed the life of the developers and how it overcame the shortcomings of the traditional approaches.
What Makes Jenkins So Popular?
- Jenkins has an open community that usually organizes meetings every month for feedback and suggestions to build the Jenkins Project.
- It reduces Development Cycle, and new features can be pushed to the user frequently and quickly.
- Unlike earlier times when the code integration was done manually, Jenkins ensures a much safer approach to dealing with it by integrating code after every commit making the code integration process shorter.
- It enables the development teams to get faster feedback whenever the test breaks during the commit, so it can be fixed straight away.
- Gone are the days when every step was manual. It automates the entire workflow; the Jenkins CI pipeline builds the code along with the tests, deploys the code to the project environment if the test is successful, or else notifies the developer to take action.
- It supports cloud-based architecture which is also the need of the hour. This allows easy deployment of Jenkins in cloud-based platforms.
- The plugin system of Jenkins is quite popular and has made Jenkins feature-rich. It allows us to either choose from its plugin list or any other plugin of your choice.
- It is a cross-platform integration tool that runs with Windows, Linux, or Mac OS.
Concerns Related to the Jenkins CI/CD Tool
Every good thing comes with a cost. Jenkins is a powerful tool but is not flawless. Here are a few drawbacks that you need to keep in mind:
- Jenkins is free of cost but maintaining its CI server requires an infrastructure set up which incurs high costs because it requires deploying it over the cloud, which is usually costly.
- Its interface is something that is not liked by all; it is not updated and lacks user-friendliness.
- It is not easy to maintain a Jenkins server without having server administration skills. It requires a dedicated resource with the required knowledge and expertise in server handling. Also, adding a stage in the pipeline or upgrading the Jenkins server needs intervention.
Jenkins, 3 Key highlights:
- Using Jenkins, developers can continuously integrate changes, making the process super easy for them.
- Developers also get the latest build using Jenkins.
- CI/CD Pipelines are automated using Jenkins, which makes the software delivery effective and efficient.
DevOps ecosystem is ever-changing and the tools in this space are highly vulnerable to these changes. The challenges faced due to the introduction of new tools poses high competition. But, Jenkins is positioned at a promising place in this competitive environment because of its versatility. Hence, it remains one of the best CI/CD tools in the market. Jenkins adds value to the agility system by providing the CI services. In order to boost the functionality of Jenkins, cloud-based cross-browser testing platforms like pCloudy can be used to automate browser testing activities and save time.
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