Industry Use Case of Jenkins

What is Jenkins?

Jenkins is a self-contained, open source automation server which can be used to automate all sorts of tasks related to building, testing, and delivering or deploying software. Jenkins can be installed through native system packages, Docker, or even run standalone by any machine with a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed.

What is Jenkins Pipeline?

Jenkins Pipeline (or simply “Pipeline” with a capital “P”) is a suite of plugins which supports implementing and integrating continuous delivery pipelines into Jenkins. A continuous delivery (CD) pipeline is an automated expression of your process for getting software from version control right through to your users and customers. Every change to your software (committed in source control) goes through a complex process on its way to being released. This process involves building the software in a reliable and repeatable manner, as well as progressing the built software (called a “build”) through multiple stages of testing and deployment.

Why Pipeline?

Jenkins is, fundamentally, an automation engine which supports a number of automation patterns. Pipeline adds a powerful set of automation tools onto Jenkins, supporting use cases that span from simple continuous integration to comprehensive CD pipelines. By modeling a series of related tasks, users can take advantage of the many features of Pipeline:

  • Code: Pipelines are implemented in code and typically checked into source control, giving teams the ability to edit, review, and iterate upon their delivery pipeline.
  • Durable: Pipelines can survive both planned and unplanned restarts of the Jenkins controller.
  • Pausable: Pipelines can optionally stop and wait for human input or approval before continuing the Pipeline run.
  • Versatile: Pipelines support complex real-world CD requirements, including the ability to fork/join, loop, and perform work in parallel.
  • Extensible: The Pipeline plugin supports custom extensions to its DSL footnote:dsl:[] and multiple options for integration with other plugins.

The following concepts are key aspects of Jenkins Pipeline, which tie in closely to Pipeline syntax :-

Pipeline

A Pipeline is a user-defined model of a CD pipeline. A Pipeline’s code defines your entire build process, which typically includes stages for building an application, testing it and then delivering it. Also, a pipeline block is a key part of Declarative Pipeline syntax.

Node

A node is a machine which is part of the Jenkins environment and is capable of executing a Pipeline. Also, a node block is a key part of Scripted Pipeline syntax.

Stage

A stage block defines a conceptually distinct subset of tasks performed through the entire Pipeline (e.g. "Build", "Test" and "Deploy" stages), which is used by many plugins to visualize or present Jenkins Pipeline status/progress.

Step

A single task. Fundamentally, a step tells Jenkins what to do at a particular point in time. For example, to execute the shell command make use the sh step: sh 'make'. When a plugin extends the Pipeline DSL, that typically means the plugin has implemented a new step.

Jenkin History

  • Kohsuke Kawaguchi, a Java developer, working at SUN Microsystems, was tired of building the code and fixing errors repetitively. In 2004, created an automation server called Hudson that automates build and test task.
  • In 2011, Oracle who owned Sun Microsystems had a dispute with Hudson open source community, so they forked Hudson and renamed it as Jenkins.
  • Both Hudson and Jenkins continued to operate independently. But in short span of time, Jenkins acquired a lot of projects and contributors while Hudson remained with only 32 projects. With time, Jenkins became more popular, and Hudson is not maintained anymore.

Use Case of Nokia

Nokia used to implement a procedure called nightly build. After multiple commits from diverse developers during the day, the software built every night. Since the software was built only once in a day, it’s a huge pain to isolate, identify, and fix the errors in a large code base.

Later, they adopted Continuous Integration approach. The software was built and tested as soon as a developer committed code. If any error is detected, the respective developer can quickly fix the defect.

Advantages of using Jenkins

  • Jenkins is being managed by the community which is very open. Every month, they hold public meetings and take inputs from the public for the development of Jenkins project.
  • So far around 280 tickets are closed, and the project publishes stable release every three months.
  • As technology grows, so does Jenkins. So far Jenkins has around 320 plugins published in its plugins database. With plugins, Jenkins becomes even more powerful and feature rich.
  • Jenkins also supports cloud-based architecture so that you can deploy Jenkins in cloud-based platforms.
  • The reason why Jenkins became popular is that it was created by a developer for developers.

Disadvantages of using Jenkins

Though Jenkins is a very powerful tool, it has its flaws.

  • Its interface is out dated and not user friendly compared to current UI trends.
  • Though Jenkins is loved by many developers, it’s not that easy to maintain it because Jenkins runs on a server and requires some skills as server administrator to monitor its activity.
  • One of the reasons why many people don’t implement Jenkins is due to its difficulty in installing and configuring Jenkins.
  • Continuous integrations regularly break due to some small setting changes. Continuous integration will be paused and therefore requires some developer attention.

Conclusion

  • In Continuous Integration, after a code commit, the software is built and tested immediately
  • Jenkins is an open source Continuous Integration server capable of orchestrating a chain of actions
  • Before Jenkins when all Developers had completed their assigned coding tasks, they used to commit their code all at same time. Later, Build is tested and deployed.
  • After Jenkins the code is built and test as soon as Developer commits code. Jenkin will build and test code many times during the day
  • By default, Jenkins comes with a limited set of features. If you want to integrate your Jenkins installation with version control tools like Git, then you need to install plugins related to Git
  • The biggest pros of Jenkins is that it is managed by the community which holds public meetings and take inputs from the public for the development of Jenkins projects
  • The biggest con of Jenkin is that Its interface is out dated and not user friendly compared to current UI trends.