Increasing Your CI/CD Velocity with Slim Containers
Nov 07, 2022
Increasing Your CI/CD Velocity with Slim Containers
As engineers, we’ve adopted Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) as essential processes to get solutions into production faster. In addition to getting excellent solutions deployed, we also need to ensure that any dubious solutions are quickly identified and mitigated by adopting a fail-fast approach. The core concept behind this is speed, and anything that helps us increase the velocity of our CI/CD pipeline helps us become more effective.
In a previous blog post, Nicolas Bohorquez described the process of automating DockerSlim as part of a CI/CD pipeline. This blog post will discuss why that is important and how it’s vital for creating a faster and more efficient deployment pipeline. We’ll explain what Slim Containers are, how they speed up the build process, and how they can improve the efficiency of your testing. Let’s get started!
What Is a Slim Container?
Generally speaking, the most efficient approach to coding is to come up with the most straightforward and elegant way to solve a problem. You eliminate any extraneous method calls and ensure that you’re not attempting to solve problems that are outside the scope of the original problem statement. Similarly, Slim Containers are designed to eliminate unnecessary content. A Slim Container contains what is necessary to support the application – and nothing more.
Unlike the process of creating simple and elegant code, though, all the optimization is taken care of for you when you use DockerSlim for Slim Containers. You can continue to use your existing base image, your package manager of choice, and any additional Docker Image Layers. Once your container is defined, you can use DockerSlim to minify your image. This step removes all the unnecessary parts of the image and keeps the parts that you need.
While this post explicitly addresses speed, this process can also reduce risks to the application by reducing the attack surface and creating a more secure container. If you’d like to read more about that, Chris Tozzi addressed some of those benefits in a blog post on building more secure images for your production environment.
How Slim Containers Speed Up Your CI/CD Pipeline
When you use Slim Containers in your CI/CD pipeline, the speed of your pipeline is affected in two distinct ways. First, because the size of the containers is significantly smaller, the builds complete faster. Second, because the containers are smaller, they require fewer resources within the pipeline. That frees up those resources to be used by other builds, which results in increased efficiency throughout the pipeline.
Automated testing is a critical component of a successful CI/CD pipeline. Testing is what builds trust in your pipeline. When implemented appropriately and thoroughly, your engineers can feel confident that the pipeline will comprehensively test any changes or additions of new code. A good testing strategy allows your pipeline to fail quickly if coding problems are introduced, and it enables changes to be deployed rapidly when they meet the requirements.
A smaller and more focused container limits the scope of testing requirements and ensures that testing covers a more significant percentage of the deployed solution. As a direct result of the need to test a smaller and more defined container, you can execute the test suite more rapidly, thereby further reducing the time between build and deployment.
Taking Your CI/CD Pipeline to the Next Level
The idea is beautiful in its simplicity. Implementing Slim Containers as part of your DevOps processes requires adding a few automated steps within your CI/CD pipeline. This blog post provides an excellent blueprint for including such steps in your build process.
There is very little change to the level of effort required of your engineers. They can continue to follow the same processes to design and develop solutions. DockerSlim automatically reduces your container images to include only the parts of the image that are required for your solution.
A smaller image consumes fewer resources and requires less time for the integration, testing, and deployment phases, resulting in a faster and more efficient pipeline to production.
The Slim platform is revolutionizing how we build and deploy containers within our production systems. By reducing the size and complexity of our images, we'll experience an increase in deployment velocity while simultaneously decreasing the amount of resources that our pipelines consume and improving our applications' security.
The Slim platform supports all industry leaders in version control and automated deployment pipelines. Log in to the Slim Portal with your GitHub, GitLab, or BitBucket credentials today to learn more about how Slim can improve the efficiency and speed of your CI/CD pipelines.
Mike Mackrory is a Global citizen who has settled down in the Pacific Northwest - for now. By day he works as an Engineer Manager for a DevOps team, and by night he writes and tinkers with other technology projects. When he's not tapping on the keys, he can be found trail-running, hiking and exploring both the urban and the rural landscape with his kids. Always happy to help out another developer, he has a definite preference for helping those who bring gifts of gourmet donuts, craft beer and/or Single-malt Scotch.