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Streamline CI/CD with Azure DevOps Toolchains

Author: Tom Moore | | February 1, 2022


To some minds, the COVID-19 pandemic is unique as the first event with a truly global impact. Its emergence has impacted indigenous tribes in remote locations as well as large and bustling cities in every region on the planet.

It’s also forced the evolution of computing ahead by years (if not decades) beyond what was predicted. Maintaining market competitiveness in the face of all the changes compelled by COVID’s forced transition to ‘all digital’ means mastering that evolving digital landscape. More than ever, that mastery flows from implementing and managing cutting-edge ‘Continuous Improvement/Continuous Delivery’ (CI/CD) pipelines. Microsoft’s Azure DevOps platform has the CI/CD tool chains you need to do just that.

Why CI/CD Is Critical Now More than Ever

COVID forced a series of technological challenges affecting how work gets done. The evolving Azure DevOps tool kit that embraces CI/CD development offers solutions to those challenges:

The need for extended security

The immediate push to ‘work from home’ also pushed the transition from a traditional ‘perimeter-based’ security strategy to an ‘authenticated user-and-device’ style of maintaining corporate privacy. Millions of personal devices now perform standard work processes, and each requires the same standard of security as in-house assets.

Embracing ‘serverless’ as the new normal

In many cases, those personal devices are now also performing the business function, not just connecting to the business server. Workers are doing more work on the ‘edge’ – remotely – without using company servers; responsive software adapting to the ‘new normal’ model must reach each and every edge device, reliably and comprehensively.

Maintaining business competitiveness

The speed of digital change also mandates using tools that facilitate the implementation of those changes. Every innovation must flow through corporate systems unimpeded by work stoppages, production failures, and delivery delays. Evolving workflows must provide flawless function regardless of the nature of the individual processes or procedures.

Using CI/CD principles to develop responsive software for applications ensures that newly released or modified corporate apps function as intended and cause no unnecessary stress on an already stressed enterprise.

The ‘What Is’ on CI/CD

Essentially, using CI/CD principles, new software programming develops incrementally (per agile concepts) and includes the testing of each increment across the whole system before it is integrated as a functioning part. When each incremental part is complete, tested, and integrated into the new app, then it can be deployed to the more extensive system without fear of crashes or gaps.

Consequently, the ‘CI/CD’ acronym could be turned around: ‘continuous delivery for continuous improvement.’ The theory embraces developing (building, testing, and deploying) digital system improvements that are fully operational, secure, and without bugs upon release.

The practice facilitates the implementation of needed changes to operations, workflows, supply changes, etc., as swiftly as possible and without risk (as much as possible) of delays or outages after release. The CI/CD system builds in automation to speed development and ensure accuracy. The continuous development of cutting-edge apps provides the continuous improvement of the organization.

Azure DevOps Platform Delivers Top-of-Line CI/CD Toolchains

Fundamentally, CI/CD flows through a pipeline of integrated steps, taking an idea from origination to users’ hands as quickly as possible. The Azure DevOps platform provides the Azure Pipelines service to provide the automatic building and testing of individual coding projects, ensuring that they function as intended and integrate with other system components.

Features of Azure Pipelines

  • Azure Pipelines works with almost all computer languages and projects, so it works as a CI/CD development tool for virtually every enterprise.
  • The Azure automated testing service automates merging and testing code as it is entered, so it catches bugs as they initially pop up. Developers can fix those gaffs before moving on, ensuring that the next step will be built on a stable foundation.
  • The automation built into the system frees developers from devising and executing testing programs themselves, reducing costs and speeding the process at the same time.
  • Artifacts produced by the CI system are automatically fed into the release process, so deployments are made as swiftly and often as possible.
  • The testing and deployment functions can occur in multiple environments, ensuring that newly introduced coding integrates with systems regardless of their particular setting.

Developers can deploy apps from Pipelines or directly from other CI/CD options, such as Jenkins.

Achieving CI/CD With Azure DevOps

Perhaps the most attractive attribute of using Azure’s DevOps to achieve CI/CD is its capacity to integrate with most open-source and third-party services. Developers can retain their existing app portfolios to use those assets to build their revised software and programming.

The Azure Resource Manager facilitates the use of infrastructure as code. Azure starts its CI/CD configuration process by formatting source code into a version control system. The version control system embraces two forms, Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC) and Git, which the ‘Build’ service automatically integrates. Changes made to this version control repository are automatically built and validated. Alternative source code repositories include GitHub (also owned by Microsoft), BitBucket Cloud, and Subversion.

In addition to Pipelines, the Azure DevOps platform includes Visual Studio Code, which speeds writing and sharing code and facilitates collaboration with team members and other developers. GitHub Actions generates workflows automatically and integrates with Linux, Windows, and macOS systems. Azure DevTest Labs promotes swift provision development and testing environments that automatically reduce waste through the governance of policies and quotas. The integrated Quali CloudShell Colony uses an ‘application-centric’ approach that creates dynamic and complex cloud-native applications using Azure’s DevOps tools.

Once launched, CI/CD apps developed through Azure’s DevOps platform provide virtually flawless operations. The services include full-stack monitoring, including logs, telemetry, and actionable alerts.

Additionally, the Azure Security Center protects both Azure and hybrid resources by allowing users to assess all of their resources’ security status, including those in the Azure cloud, on-premises, and even those in other clouds. The Security Center manages provisioning, security, and compliance concerns using Azure Blueprints or Chef Automate, allowing users to reduce their operations costs without increasing security worries.

At Datavail, our Azure consultants use the Azure DevOps platform to design and deploy apps for our clients every day. We’ve mastered the toolchains that create high value for our customer’s varied and diverse business use cases. Datavail can help your enterprise to design, develop, and deploy its proprietary apps, too. Ask us how.

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