Learning DevOps - Second Edition

By Mikael Krief
    What do you get with a Packt Subscription?

  • Instant access to this title and 7,500+ eBooks & Videos
  • Constantly updated with 100+ new titles each month
  • Breadth and depth in over 1,000+ technologies
  1. Free Chapter
    Chapter 1: The DevOps Culture and Infrastructure as Code Practices
About this book

In the implementation of DevOps processes, the choice of tools is crucial to the sustainability of projects and collaboration between developers and ops. This book presents the different patterns and tools for provisioning and configuring an infrastructure in the cloud, covering mostly open source tools with a large community contribution, such as Terraform, Ansible, and Packer, which are assets for automation.

This DevOps book will show you how to containerize your applications with Docker and Kubernetes and walk you through the construction of DevOps pipelines in Jenkins as well as Azure pipelines before covering the tools and importance of testing. You'll find a complete chapter on DevOps practices and tooling for open source projects before getting to grips with security integration in DevOps using Inspec, Hashicorp Vault, and Azure Secure DevOps kit. You'll also learn about the reduction of downtime with blue-green deployment and feature flags techniques before finally covering common DevOps best practices for all your projects.

By the end of this book, you'll have built a solid foundation in DevOps and developed the skills necessary to enhance a traditional software delivery process using modern software delivery tools and techniques.

Publication date:
March 2022
Publisher
Packt
Pages
560
ISBN
9781801818964

 

Chapter 1: The DevOps Culture and Infrastructure as Code Practices

DevOps, a term that we hear more and more in enterprises with phrases such as We do DevOps or We use DevOps tools, is the contraction of the words "Development" and "Operations."

DevOps is a culture that's different from traditional corporate cultures and requires a change in mindset, processes, and tools. It is often associated with continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) practices, which are software engineering practices, but also with Infrastructure as Code (IaC), which consists of codifying the structure and configuration of infrastructure.

In this chapter, we will see what DevOps culture is, what DevOps principles are, and the benefits they bring to a company. Then, we will explain CI/CD practices and, finally, we will detail IaC with its patterns and practices.

In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:

  • Getting started with DevOps
  • Implementing CI/CD and continuous deployment
  • Understanding IaC practices

Check out the following video to view the Code in Action: https://bit.ly/3JJAMAb

 

Getting started with DevOps

The term DevOps was introduced in 2007-2009 by Patrick Debois, Gene Kim, and John Willis, and it represents the combination of Development (Dev) and Operations (Ops). It has given rise to a movement that advocates bringing developers and operations together within teams. This delivers added business value to users more quickly, which makes it more competitive in the market.

DevOps culture is a set of practices that reduce the barriers between developers, who want to innovate and deliver faster, and operations, who want to guarantee the stability of production systems and the quality of the system changes they make.

DevOps culture is also the extension of agile processes (Scrum, XP, and so on), which makes it possible to reduce delivery times and already involves developers and business teams. However, they are often hindered because of the non-inclusion of Ops in the same teams.

The communication and this link between Dev and Ops allows a better follow-up of end-to-end production deployments and more frequent deployments that are of higher quality, saving money for the company.

To facilitate this collaboration and to improve communication between Dev and Ops, there are several key elements in the processes that must be put in place, as shown here:

  • More frequent application deployments with integration and continuous delivery (called CI/CD).
  • The implementation and automation of unitary and integration tests, with a process focused on behavior-driven design (BDD) or test-driven design (TDD).
  • The implementation of a means of collecting feedback from users.
  • Monitoring applications and infrastructure.

The DevOps movement is based on three axes:

  • The culture of collaboration: This is the very essence of DevOps – the fact that teams are no longer separated by silos specialization (one team of developers, one team of Ops, one team of testers, and so on). However, these people are brought together by making multidisciplinary teams that have the same objective: to deliver added value to the product as quickly as possible.
  • Processes: To expect rapid deployment, these teams must follow development processes from agile methodologies with iterative phases that allow for better functionality, quality, and rapid feedback. These processes should not only be integrated into the development workflow with continuous integration, but also into the deployment workflow with continuous delivery and deployment. The DevOps process is divided into several phases:

A. Planning and prioritizing functionalities

B. Development

C. Continuous integration and delivery

D. Continuous deployment

E. Continuous monitoring

These phases are carried out cyclically and iteratively throughout the life of the project.

  • Tools: The choice of tools and products used by teams is very important in DevOps. Indeed, when teams were separated into Dev and Ops, each team used their specific tools – deployment tools for developers and infrastructure tools for Ops – which further widened communication gaps.

With teams that bring development and operations together, and with this culture of unity, the tools that are used must be usable and exploitable by all members.

Developers need to integrate with the monitoring tools that are used by Ops teams to detect performance problems as early as possible, and with security tools provided by Ops to protect access to various resources.

Ops, on the other hand, must automate the process of creating and updating the infrastructure and integrate the code into a code manager. This is called IaC, but this can only be done in collaboration with developers who know the infrastructure that's needed for applications. Ops must also be integrated into application release processes and tools.

The following diagram illustrates the three axes of DevOps culture – the collaboration between Dev and Ops, the processes, and the use of tools:

Figure 1.1 – The DevOps culture union

Figure 1.1 – The DevOps culture union

So, we can go back to DevOps culture with Donovan Brown's definition (http://donovanbrown.com/post/what-is-devops):

"DevOps is the union of people, processes, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users."

The benefits of establishing a DevOps culture within an enterprise are as follows:

  • Better collaboration and communication in teams, which has a human and social impact within the company
  • Shorter lead times to production, resulting in better performance and end user satisfaction
  • Reduced infrastructure costs with IaC
  • Significant time saved with iterative cycles that reduce application errors and automation tools that reduce manual tasks, so teams focus more on developing new functionalities with added business value.

    Note

    For more information about DevOps culture and its impact on, and transformation of, enterprises, read the book The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win, by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr, and The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations, by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis.

In this section, we learned about the essential notions of the DevOps culture. Now, let's look at the first practice of the DevOps culture: the implementation of CI/CD and continuous deployment.

 

Implementing CI/CD and continuous deployment

Earlier, we learned that one of the key DevOps practices is the process of continuous integration and continuous delivery, also known as CI/CD. In fact, behind the acronyms of CI/CD, there are three practices:

  • Continuous integration (CI)
  • Continuous delivery (CD)
  • Continuous deployment

What does each of these practices correspond to? What are their prerequisites and best practices? Where are they applicable?

Let's look at each of these practices in detail, starting with continuous integration.

Continuous integration (CI)

In the following definition given by Martin Fowler, three key things are mentioned – members of a team, integrate, and as quickly as possible:

"Continuous integration is a software development practice where members of a team integrate their work frequently... Each integration is verified by an automated build (including test) to detect integration errors as quickly as possible."

That is, CI is an automatic process that allows you to check the completeness of an application's code every time a team member makes a change. This verification must be done as quickly as possible.

We see DevOps culture in CI very clearly, with the spirit of collaboration and communication, because the execution of CI impacts all members in terms of work methodology and therefore collaboration; moreover, CI requires the implementation of processes (branch, commit, pull request, code review, and so on) with automation that is done with tools that have been adapted to the whole team (Git, Jenkins, Azure DevOps, and so on). Finally, CI must run quickly to collect feedback on code integration as soon as possible and hence be able to deliver new features more quickly to users.

Implementing CI

Therefore, to set up CI, it is necessary to have a Source Code Manager (SCM) that will centralize the code of all members. This code manager can be of any type: Git, SVN, or Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC). It's also important to have an automatic build manager (CI server) that supports continuous integration, such as Jenkins, GitLab CI, TeamCity, Azure Pipelines, GitHub Actions, Travis CI, and Circle CI.

Note

In this book, we will use Git as an SCM, and we will look a little more deeply into its concrete uses.

Each team member will work on the application code daily, iteratively, and incrementally (such as in agile and scrum methods). Each task or feature must be partitioned from other developments with the use of branches.

Regularly, even several times a day, members archive or commit their code and preferably with small commits (trunks) that can easily be fixed in the event of an error. This will be integrated into the rest of the code of the application, with the rest of the commits of the other members.

Integrating all the commits is the starting point of the CI process.

This process, which is executed by the CI server, needs to be automated and triggered at each commit. The server will retrieve the code and then do the following:

  • Build the application package – compilation, file transformation, and so on
  • Perform unit tests (with code coverage)

    Note

    It is also possible to enrich this process with static code and vulnerability analysis, which we will look at in Chapter 12, Static Code Analysis with SonarQube, which is dedicated to testing.

This CI process must be optimized as soon as possible so that it can run fast, and so that developers can gather quick feedback on the integration of their code. For example, code that has been archived and does not compile or whose test execution fails can impact and block the entire team.

Sometimes, bad practices can cause tests to fail during CI. To deactivate this test's execution, you must take it is not serious, it is necessary to deliver quickly, or the code that compiles it is essential as an argument.

On the contrary, this practice can have serious consequences when the errors that are detected by the tests are revealed in production. The time that's saved during CI will be lost on fixing errors with hotfixes and redeploying them quickly, which can cause stress. This is the opposite of DevOps culture as there's poor application quality for end users and no real feedback; instead of developing new features, we spend time correcting errors.

With an optimized and complete CI process, the developer can quickly fix their problems and improve their code or discuss it with the rest of the team and commit their code for a new integration. Let's look at the following diagram:

Figure 1.2 – The continuous integration workflow

Figure 1.2 – The continuous integration workflow

This diagram shows the cyclical steps of continuous integration. This includes the code being pushed into the SCM by the team members and the build and test being executed by the CI server. The purpose of this process is to provide rapid feedback to members.

Now that we've seen what continuous integration is, let's look at continuous delivery.

Continuous delivery (CD)

Once continuous integration has been completed, the next step is to deploy the application automatically in one or more non-production environments, which is called staging. This process is called continuous delivery (CD).

CD often starts with an application package being prepared by CI, which will be installed based on a list of automated tasks. These tasks can be of any type: unzip, stop and restart service, copy files, replace configuration, and so on. The execution of functional and acceptance tests can also be performed during the CD process.

Unlike CI, CD aims to test the entire application with all of its dependencies. This is very visible in microservice applications composed of several services and APIs; CI will only test the microservice under development, while once deployed in a staging environment, it will be possible to test and validate the entire application, as well as the APIs and microservices that it is composed of.

In practice, today, it is very common to link CI to CD in an integration environment; that is, CI deploys at the same time in an environment. This is necessary so that developers can not only execute unit tests but also verify the application as a whole (UI and functional) at each commit, along with the integration of the developments of the other team members.

It is important that the package that's generated during CI, which will also be deployed during CD, is the same one that will be installed on all environments, and this should be the case until production. However, there may be configuration file transformations that differ, depending on the environment, but the application code (binaries, DLL, Docker images, and JAR) must remain unchanged.

This immutable, unchangeable character of the code is the only guarantee that the application that's verified in an environment will be of the same quality as the version that was deployed in the previous environment, and also the same one that will be deployed in the next environment. If changes (improvements or bug fixes) are to be made to the code following verification in one of these environments, once done, the modifications will have to go through the CI and CD cycle again.

The tools that are set up for CI/CD are often used with other solutions, as follows:

  • A package manager: This constitutes the storage space of the packages generated by CI and recovered by CD. These managers must support feeds, versioning, and different types of packages. There are several on the market, such as Nexus, ProGet, Artifactory, and Azure Artifacts.
  • A configuration manager: This allows you to manage configuration changes during CD; most CD tools include a configuration mechanism with a system of variables.

In CD, deploying the application in each staging environment is triggered as follows:

  • It can be triggered automatically, following a successful execution in a previous environment. For example, we can imagine a case where the deployment in the pre-production environment is automatically triggered when the integration tests have been successfully performed in a dedicated environment.
  • It can be triggered manually, for sensitive environments such as the production environment, following manual approval by the person responsible for validating the proper functionality of the application in an environment.

What is important in a CD process is that the deployment to the production environment – that is, to the end user – is triggered manually by approved users.

Figure 1.3 – The continuous delivery workflow

Figure 1.3 – The continuous delivery workflow

The preceding diagram clearly shows that the CD process is a continuation of the CI process. It represents the chain of CD steps, which are automatic for staging environments but manual for production deployments. It also shows that the package is generated by CI and stored in a package manager, and that it is the same package that is deployed in different environments.

Now that we've looked at CD, let's look at continuous deployment practices.

Continuous deployment

Continuous deployment is an extension of CD, but this time, with a process that automates the entire CI/CD pipeline from the moment the developer commits their code to deployment in production through all of the verification steps.

This practice is rarely implemented in enterprises because it requires a variety of tests (unit, functional, integration, performance, and so on) to be covered for the application. Successfully executing these tests is sufficient to validate the proper functionality of the application regarding all of these dependencies. However, it also allows you to automatically deploy to a production environment without any approval action required.

The continuous deployment process must also take into account all of the steps to restore the application in the event of a production problem.

Continuous deployment can be implemented by using and implementing feature toggle techniques (or feature flags), which involves encapsulating the application's functionalities in features and activating its features on demand, directly in production, without having to redeploy the code of the application.

Another technique is to use a blue-green production infrastructure, which consists of two production environments, one blue and one green. First, we deploy to the blue environment, then to the green one; this will ensure that no downtime is required.

Figure 1.4 – The continuous deployment workflow

Figure 1.4 – The continuous deployment workflow

Note

We will look at the feature toggle and blue-green deployment usage in more detail in Chapter 15, Reducing Deployment Downtime.

The preceding diagram is almost the same as that of CD, but with the difference that it depicts automated end-to-end deployment.

CI/CD processes are therefore an essential part of DevOps culture, with CI allowing teams to integrate and test the coherence of its code and to obtain quick feedback regularly. CD automatically deploys on one or more staging environments and hence offers the possibility to test the entire application until it is deployed in production.

Finally, continuous deployment automates the ability to deploy the application from commit to the production environment.

Note

We will learn how to implement all of these processes in practice with Jenkins, Azure DevOps, and GitLab CI in Chapter 7, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery.

In this section, we discussed the practices that are essential to DevOps culture, which are continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment.

In the next section, we will look at another DevOps practice, known as IaC.

 

Understanding IaC practices

IaC is a practice that consists of writing the code of the resources that make up an infrastructure.

This practice began to take effect with the rise of the DevOps culture and with the modernization of cloud infrastructure. Indeed, Ops teams that deploy infrastructures manually take the time to deliver infrastructure changes due to inconsistent handling and the risk of errors. Also, with the modernization of the cloud and its scalability, the way infrastructure is built requires reviewing the provisioning and change practices by adapting a more automated method.

IaC is the process of writing the code of the provisioning and configuration steps of infrastructure components, which helps automate its deployment in a repeatable and consistent manner.

Before we look at the use of IaC, we will see what the benefits of this practice are.

The benefits of IaC

The benefits of IaC are as follows:

  • The standardization of infrastructure configuration reduces the risk of errors.
  • The code that describes the infrastructure is versioned and controlled in a source code manager.
  • The code is integrated into CI/CD pipelines.
  • Deployments that make infrastructure changes are faster and more efficient.
  • There's better management, control, and a reduction in infrastructure costs.

IaC also brings benefits to a DevOps team by allowing Ops to be more efficient in terms of infrastructure improvement tasks, rather than spending time on manual configuration. It also gives Dev the possibility to upgrade their infrastructures and make changes without having to ask for more Ops resources.

IaC also allows the creation of self-service, ephemeral environments that will give developers and testers more flexibility to test new features in isolation and independently of other environments.

IaC languages and tools

The languages and tools that are used to write the configuration of the infrastructure can be of different types; that is, scripting, declarative, and programmatic. We will explore them in the following sections.

Scripting types

These are scripts such as Bash, PowerShell, or others that use the different clients (SDKs) provided by the cloud provider; for example, you can script the provisioning of an Azure infrastructure with the Azure CLI or Azure PowerShell.

For example, here is the command that creates a resource group in Azure:

  • Using the Azure CLI (the documentation is available at https://bit.ly/2V1OfxJ), we have the following:
    az group create --location westeurope --resource-group MyAppResourcegroup
  • Using Azure PowerShell (the documentation is available at https://bit.ly/2VcASeh), we have the following:
    New-AzResourceGroup -Name MyAppResourcegroup -Location westeurope 

The problem with these languages and tools is that they require a lot of lines of code. This is because we need to manage the different states of the manipulated resources, and it is necessary to write all the steps of creating or updating the desired infrastructure.

However, these languages and tools can be very useful for tasks that automate repetitive actions to be performed on a list of resources (selection and query), or that require complex processing with certain logic to be performed on infrastructure resources, such as a script that automates VMs that carry a certain tag being deleted.

Declarative types

These are languages in which it is sufficient to write the state of the desired system or infrastructure in the form of configuration and properties. This is the case, for example, for Terraform and Vagrant from HashiCorp, Ansible, the Azure ARM template, Azure Bicep (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-resource-manager/templates/bicep-overview), PowerShell DSC, Puppet, and Chef. All the user has to do is write the final state of the desired infrastructure; the tool will take care of applying it.

For example, the following Terraform code allows you to define the desired configuration of an Azure resource group:

resource "azurerm_resource_group" "myrg" {
     name = "MyAppResourceGroup"
     location = "West Europe"
     tags = {
         environment = "Bookdemo"
    }
}

In this example, if you want to add or modify a tag, just modify the tags property in the preceding code and Terraform will do the update itself.

Here is another example that allows you to install and restart nginx on a server using Ansible:

---
- hosts: all
 tasks:
 - name: install and check nginx latest version
 apt: name=nginx state=latest
 - name: start nginx
 service:
 name: nginx
 state: started

To ensure that the service is not installed, just change the preceding code, with service as an absent value and the state property with the stopped value:

---
- hosts: all
 tasks:
 - name: stop nginx
 service:
 name: nginx
 state: stopped
 - name: check nginx is not installed
 apt: name=nginx state=absent

In this example, it was enough to change the state property to indicate the desired state of the service.

Note

For details regarding the use of Terraform and Ansible, see Chapter 2, Provisioning Cloud Infrastructure with Terraform, and Chapter 3, Using Ansible for Configuring IaaS Infrastructure.

Programmatic types

For a few years now, an observation has been made that the two types of IaC code, which are of the scripting or declarative languages, are destined to be in the operational team. This does not commonly involve the developers in the IaC.

This is done to create more union between developers and operations so that we see the emergence of IaC tools that are based more on languages known by developers, such as TypeScript, Java, Python, and C#.

Among the IaC tools that allow us to provision infrastructure using a programming language, we have Pulumi (https://www.pulumi.com/) and Terraform CDK (https://github.com/hashicorp/terraform-cdk).

The following is an example of some TypeScript code written with the Terraform CDK:

import { Construct } from 'constructs';
import { App, TerraformStack, TerraformOutput } from 'cdktf';
import {
  ResourceGroup,
} from './.gen/providers/azurerm';
class AzureRgCDK extends TerraformStack {
  constructor(scope: Construct, name: string) {
    super(scope, name);
    new AzurermProvider(this, 'azureFeature', {
      features: [{}],
    });
    const rg = new ResourceGroup(this, 'cdktf-rg', {
      name: 'MyAppResourceGroup',
      location: 'West Europe',
    });
  }
}
const app = new App();
new AzureRgCDK(app, 'azure-rg-demo');
app.synth();

In this example, which is written in Typescript, we are using two-tier libraries: the npm package and a Terraform CDK called cdktf. The npm package that's used to provision Azure resources is called 'gen/providers/azurerm'.

Then, we declare a new class that initializes the Azure provider and we define the creation of the resource group with the new ResourceGroup method.

Finally, to create the resource group, we instantiate this class and call the app.synth method of the CDK.

Note

For more information about the Terraform CDK, I suggest reading the following blog posts and watching the following video:

https://www.hashicorp.com/blog/cdk-for-terraform-enabling-python-and-typescript-support

https://www.hashicorp.com/blog/announcing-cdk-for-terraform-0-1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hSdb0nadRQ

The IaC topology

In a cloud infrastructure, IaC is divided into several typologies:

  • Deploying and provisioning the infrastructure
  • Server configuration and templating
  • Containerization
  • Configuration and deployment in Kubernetes

Let's deep dive into each topology.

Deploying and provisioning the infrastructure

Provisioning is the act of instantiating the resources that make up the infrastructure. They can be of the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and serverless resource types, such as a web app, Azure function, or Event Hub, but also the entire network part that is managed, such as VNet, subnets, routing tables, or Azure Firewall. For virtual machine resources, the provisioning step only creates or updates the VM cloud resource, but not its content.

There are different provisioning tools we can use for this, such as Terraform, the ARM template, AWS Cloud training, the Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell, and also Google Cloud Deployment Manager. Of course, there are many more, but it is difficult to mention them all. In this book, we will look at, in detail, the use of Terraform to provide an infrastructure.

Server configuration

This step concerns configuring virtual machines, such as the hardening, directories, disk mounting, network configuration (firewall, proxy, and so on), and middleware installation.

There are different configuration tools, such as Ansible, PowerShell DSC, Chef, Puppet, and SaltStack. Of course, there are many more, but in this book, we will look in detail at the use of Ansible to configure a virtual machine.

To optimize server provisioning and configuration times, it is also possible to create and use server models, also called images, that contain all of the configuration (hardening, middleware, and so on) of the servers. While provisioning the server, we will indicate the template to use. So, in a few minutes, we will have a server that's been configured and is ready to be used.

There are also many IaC tools for creating server templates, such as Aminator (used by Netflix) and HashiCorp Packer.

Here is an example of some Packer file code for creating an Ubuntu image with package updates:

{
"builders": [{
     "type": "azure-arm",
     "os_type": "Linux",
     "image_publisher": "Canonical",
     "image_offer": "UbuntuServer",
     "image_sku": "16.04-LTS",
     "managed_image_resource_group_name": "demoBook",
     "managed_image_name": "SampleUbuntuImage",
     "location": "West Europe",
     "vm_size": "Standard_DS2_v2"
 }],
 "provisioners": [{
     "execute_command": "chmod +x {{ .Path }}; {{ .Vars }} sudo -E sh '{{ .Path }}'",
     "inline": [
     "apt-get update",
     "apt-get upgrade -y",
     "/usr/sbin/waagent -force -deprovision+user && export HISTSIZE=0 && sync"
 ],
 "inline_shebang": "/bin/sh -x",
 "type": "shell"
 }]
}

This script creates a template image for the Standard_DS2_V2 virtual machine based on the Ubuntu OS (the builders section). Additionally, Packer will update all the packages during the creation of the image with the apt-get update command. Afterward, Packer will deprovision the image to delete all user information (the provisioners section).

Note

The Packer part will be discussed in detail in Chapter 4, Optimizing Infrastructure Deployment with Packer.

Immutable infrastructure with containers

Containerization consists of deploying applications in containers instead of deploying them in VMs.

Today, it is very clear that the container technology to be used is Docker and that a Docker image is configured with code in a Dockerfile. This file contains the declaration of the base image, which represents the operating system to be used, additional middleware to be installed on the image, only the files and binaries necessary for the application, and the network configuration of the ports. Unlike VMs, containers are said to be immutable; the configuration of a container cannot be modified during its execution.

Here is a simple example of a Dockerfile:

FROM ubuntu
RUN apt-get update
RUN apt-get install -y nginx
ENTRYPOINT ["/usr/sbin/nginx","-g","daemon off;"]
EXPOSE 80

In this Docker image, we are using a basic Ubuntu image, installing nginx, and exposing port 80.

Note

The Docker part will be discussed in detail in Chapter 9, Containerizing Your Application with Docker.

Configuration and deployment in Kubernetes

Kubernetes is a container orchestrator – it is the technology that most embodies IaC (in my opinion) because of the way it deploys containers, the network architecture (load balancer, ports, and so on), and volume management, as well as how it protects sensitive information, all of which are described in the YAML specification files.

Here is a simple example of a YAML specification file:

apiVersion: apps/v1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
   name: nginx-demo
   labels:
       app: nginx
spec:
   replicas: 2
   selector:
     matchLabels:
        app: nginx
   template:
   metadata:
      labels:
        app: nginx
  spec:
    containers:
    - name: nginx
        image: nginx:1.7.9
      ports:
      - containerPort: 80

In the preceding specification file, we can see the name of the image to deploy (ngnix), the port to open (80), and the number of replicas (2).

Note

The Kubernetes part will be discussed in detail in Chapter 10, Managing Containers Effectively with Kubernetes.

IaC, like software development, requires that we implement practices and processes that allow the infrastructure code to evolve and be maintained.

Among these practices are those of software development, as follows:

  • Have good principles of nomenclature.
  • Do not overload the code with unnecessary comments.
  • Use small functions.
  • Implement error handling.

    Note

    To learn more about good software development practices, read the excellent book, which is, for my part, a reference on the subject, Clean Code, by Robert Martin.

However, there are more specific practices that I think deserve more attention:

  • Everything must be automated in the code: When performing IaC, it is necessary to code and automate all of the provisioning steps and not leave the manual steps out of the code that distort the automation of the infrastructure, which can generate errors. And if necessary, do not hesitate to use several tools such as Terraform and Bash with the Azure CLI scripts.
  • The code must be in a source control manager: The infrastructure code must also be in an SCM to be versioned, tracked, merged, and restored, and hence have better visibility of the code between Dev and Ops.
  • The infrastructure code must be with the application code: In some cases, this may be difficult, but if possible, it is much better to place the infrastructure code in the same repository as the application code. This is to ensure we have better work organization between developers and operations, who will share the same workspace.
  • Separation of roles and directories: It is good to separate the code from the infrastructure according to the role of the code. This allows you to create one directory for provisioning and configuring VMs and another that will contain the code for testing the integration of the complete infrastructure.
  • Integration into a CI/CD process: One of the goals of IaC is to be able to automate the deployment of the infrastructure. So, from the beginning of its implementation, it is necessary to set up a CI/CD process that will integrate the code, test it, and deploy it in different environments. Some tools, such as Terratest, allow you to write tests on infrastructure code. One of the best practices is to integrate the CI/CD process of the infrastructure into the same pipeline as the application.
  • The code must be idempotent: The execution of the infrastructure deployment code must be idempotent; that is, it should be automatically executable at will. This means that scripts must take into account the state of the infrastructure when running it and not generate an error if the resource to be created already exists, or if a resource to be deleted has already been deleted. We will see that declarative languages, such as Terraform, take on this aspect of idempotence natively. The code of the infrastructure, once fully automated, must allow the application's infrastructure to be constructed and destructed.
  • To be used as documentation: The code of the infrastructure must be clear and must be able to serve as documentation. Infrastructure documentation takes a long time to write and, in many cases, it is not updated as the infrastructure evolves.
  • The code must be modular: In infrastructure, the components often have the same code – the only difference is the value of their properties. Also, these components are used several times in the company's applications. Therefore, it is important to optimize the writing times of code by factoring it with modules (or roles, for Ansible) that will be called as functions. Another advantage of using modules is the ability to standardize resource nomenclature and compliance on some properties.
  • Having a development environment: The problem with IaC is that it is difficult to test its infrastructure code under development in environments that are used for integration, as well as to test the application, because changing the infrastructure can have an impact. Therefore, it is important to have a development environment even for IaC that can be impacted or even destroyed at any time.

For local infrastructure tests, some tools simulate a local environment, such as Vagrant (from HashiCorp), so you should use them to test code scripts as much as possible.

Of course, the full list of good practices is longer than this; all the methods and processes of software engineering practices are also applicable.

Therefore, IaC, like CI/CD processes, is a key practice of DevOps culture that allows you to deploy and configure an infrastructure by writing code. However, IaC can only be effective with the use of appropriate tools and the implementation of good practices.

In this section, we covered an overview of some DevOps best practices. Next, we will present a brief overview of the evolution of the DevOps culture.

The evolution of the DevOps culture

With time and the experience that's been gained by using the DevOps culture, we can observe an evolution of the practices, as well as the teams that integrate with this movement.

This is, for example, the case of the GitOps practice, which is starting to emerge more and more in companies.

The GitOps workflow, which is commonly applied to Kubernetes, consists of using Git as the only source of truth; that is, the Git repository contains the code of the infrastructure state, as well as the code of the application to be deployed.

A controller will oversee retrieval of the Git source during a code commit, executing the tests, and redeploying the application.

Note

For more details about GitOps culture, practices, and workflows, read the official guide on the initiator of GitOps here: https://www.weave.works/technologies/gitops/.

 

Summary

In this chapter, we saw that the DevOps culture is a story of collaboration, processes, and tools. Then, we detailed the different steps of the CI/CD process and explained the difference between continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment. Finally, the last part explained how to use IaC with its best practices, and we covered the evolution of the DevOps culture.

We learned about the basis of the DevOps culture and its practices, which sets the tone for the rest of the chapters in this book, where we will discuss how to apply this culture using tools and practices.

In the next chapter, we will begin by covering the implementation of Infrastructure as Code and how to provision infrastructure with Terraform.

 

Questions

  1. Which words is DevOps a contraction of?
  2. Is DevOps a term that represents the name of a tool, a culture or a society, or the title of a book?
  3. What are the three axes of DevOps culture?
  4. What is the objective of continuous integration?
  5. What is the difference between continuous delivery and continuous deployment?
  6. What is IaC?
 

Further reading

If you want to know more about DevOps culture, here are some resources:

About the Author
  • Mikael Krief

    Mikael Krief is a DevOps engineer who lives in France. He believes that Infrastructure as Code is a fundamental practice in DevOps culture. He is therefore interested in HashiCorp products and specializes in the use of Terraform. Mikael loves to share his passion through various communities, such as the HashiCorp User Groups. Over the years, he has contributed to many public projects, written various blog posts, published several books, and spoken at leading conferences. For his contributions and passion, he was nominated and selected as a HashiCorp Ambassador since 2019, and he has been awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for 7 years.

    Browse publications by this author
Learning DevOps - Second Edition
Unlock this book and the full library FREE for 7 days
Start now