CircleCI Embraces Containers to Simplify CI/CD Deployments

CircleCI this week relased a container edition of its self-hosted runner software that will make it simpler for DevOps teams to deploy the on-premises edition of its namesake continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform.

Aakar Shroff, vice president of product management for CircleCI, says the self-hosted container runner is designed to eliminate a lot of the toil and friction a DevOps team would otherwise encounter when deploying a CI/CD platform in an on-premises IT environment.

DevOps teams, for example, can now specify Docker images for CI/CD jobs by adding one line of code to their configuration.
In addition, the container runner software from CircleCI integrates with Kubernetes application programming interfaces (APIs) to make it easier to spin up and down ephemeral pods that execute CI/CD jobs.

Most of the organizations that deploy CircleCI in an on-premises IT environment either operate in a highly regulated industry or are concerned about storing intellectual property in a cloud platform, notes Shroff. In many of those latter cases, those organizations are using the runner edition of the CircleCI platform alongside the cloud edition in a hybrid fashion to manage software builds involving less sensitive software artifacts and components, he added.

In general, building and deploying of applications is more dynamic with the rise of containers. Developers now routinely rip and replace containers as applications are updated more frequently using smaller amounts of code. That approach, in addition to speeding up the pace at which applications are updated, also makes it easier to troubleshoot any issues that might arise after the latest update is installed.

The tradeoff is that as cloud-native applications are constructed using microservices that themselves are built using containers, the application environment tends to become more complex to manage as the number of dependencies between microservices increases. The more organizations embrace cloud-native applications, the more critical it becomes to have a set of mature DevOps processes in place to proactively track and manage all those dependencies.

It’s not clear how much transitioning to cloud-native application development will drive organizations to revisit their choice of CI/CD platform. CircleCI is betting that instances of complex, legacy CI/CD platforms with years of custom integrations are ripe to be replaced by more modern platforms that require less toil to manage, says Shroff.

At the same time, there are many organizations just starting to embrace DevOps practices as they begin to build cloud-native applications, he notes. As a result, the total number of organizations that rely on DevOps practices to build applications should steadily increase.

One way or another, the need for more advanced DevOps workflows to build and deploy container-based applications is clear. Each organization will need to decide for itself how far to extend the CI/CD platforms it might already have in place versus replacing that platform with one that is less complex to maintain.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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