How Can GitHub Help Your DevOps Workflow?

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The Evolution Of DevOps - An Overview

The DevOps movement has revolutionized the industry since its advent in 2009. It is no longer just a fancy term used by marketers to sell applications and softwares. It is now an industry standard that can deliver products rapidly and also ensure that the risks of production changes are minimal through automated testing and shorter development iterations. DevOps has enabled organizations to overcome the barriers between the Development and Operations teams by involving every team in each other's processes. This has not only improved the quality of product delivery but has also improved everyone’s view of software production and delivery through appreciation and participation in cross-functional roles and skills.

DevOps focuses on the entire software development life cycle, which includes building the application, testing, deployment and continuous delivery of the product to end-users. In this context, we will be discussing the importance of GitHub in your DevOps workflow in this article. 

DevOps Workflow - A Quick Introduction

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The DevOps workflow is essentially a series of processes that deal with the agility and automation of your application. The DevOps workflow focuses on bridging the gap between the development and the operations teams through continuous development, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous monitoring and feedback, continuous delivery and feedback and continuous deployment.

At the very heart of the DevOps process flow lies the CI (Continuous Integration) and CD (Continuous Delivery) pipelines. In simple terms, a pipeline in software engineering involves a series of steps performed to ensure smooth integration and delivery of your application. A CI/CD pipeline enables you to automate the software delivery process. It allows you to begin with your existing code on repositories like GitHub, run continuous tests on the built code and securely deploy newer versions of your application. Automated pipelines have the added advantage of eliminating the risks of manual errors and enable rapid product iterations along with standardized feedback loops to developers.    

  • Continuous Integration refers to the process in the software development cycle wherein the developers merge numerous versions of their code regularly in a central repository like GitHub, and then the automated tests and builds are performed on the merged codes. Thus, continuous integration is the practice that includes the process of software build and initial tests.
  • Continuous Delivery refers to the process of combining the code with the infrastructure ensuring that it has passed all the tests and policy checks after which it is deployed/released in the production environment for the end-users.·

This brings us to the core question - “How can GitHub help your DevOps workflow?”

Source Code Management With GitHub

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A code commit stage can be viewed as a version control process of the continuous integration phase wherein every version of a code written by the developers gets stored indefinitely in a central repository. The central repository where the code commit changes are managed is known as a Source Code Management Tool. This is where GitHub comes into the picture. 

GitHub is a cloud-based Git repository hosting service. It provides you a powerful platform to collaborate, review and manage your code with almost anyone across the globe, ensuring that every version of the code stays intact. It allows collaborators, developers to commit (code push request) and merge their codes on the central repository once the code has met all the requirements, bug fixes or all the change requests are completed. Thus GitHub facilitates easy collaboration and efficient version control of the source code.       

GitHub Branches

As discussed previously, projects are multifarious and have numerous versions. GitHub facilitates you with branches that allow you to modify multiple and unique versions of a repository at once. Your repository has a default branch known as the master branch. Thus, numerous developers can work on multiple different branches of the same project and make edits before finally committing them to the master branch. A specific branch typically undergoes several steps of approvals before it can be merged to the master branch. 

Continuous Integration With GitHub Actions - Automate Build, Test And Deployment

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Unarguably, Git is the key to almost all DevOps operations. GitHub Actions is the door to its entry into the DevOps workflow pipeline. GitHub Actions allow you to build container apps, deploy web services, publish packages to registries or even automate the welcoming of new programmers to your open source projects. Another feature of the GitHub Actions service known as Matrix builds empowers you with the ability to test your programs on Linux, MacOs, Windows, containers, as well as multiple runtime versions simultaneously. 

What are GitHub Actions?

It is an API that allows you to orchestrate any workflow based on any given event such that GitHub manages the execution and also provides you feedback ensuring high levels of security in each step. Further, GitHub has incorporated CI/CD and testing to Actions. Thus, users can automate the build, test and deployment of their projects. What makes it more enticing is that you can do this on any platform, which includes Windows, Linux and MacOS. 

  • GitHub Actions allow you to publish and use packages from the GitHub package registry or any other registry.
  • It supports a plethora of languages and frameworks, which include Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, .NET, Android, iOS, etc.
  • GitHub Action workflows can be triggered on any event across the developer life cycle on GitHub.

Nat Friedman (The CEO of GitHub) mentioned - “You can edit, reuse, share and fork GitHub actions like code.” 

GitHub Integration With Azure and AWS Pipelines

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This is the era of cloud computing. Azure DevOps and AWS DevOps are the front runners of the cloud business that offer seamless integration and deployment services to organizations.

Azure DevOps is a complete suite, a set of services, provided by Microsoft Azure to ensure continuous integration and delivery for applications. It is designed to ensure seamless integration of the provided development services to plan, build as well as deploy applications. It is extremely easy to integrate your GitHub projects with the Azure Pipelines, which enable you to achieve end-to-end traceability of code changes, code commits, code builds and releases. 

Simply put, AWS DevOps is Amazon’s set of services that are designed to enable organizations to adapt to the DevOps culture as well as design and deliver products while following the best DevOps practices. You can connect GitHub to AWS CodeDeploy and set up an end-to-end pipeline starting from source control to release of the product. You can also set up cross-account and cross-region deployment using AWS CDK and GitHub Actions.

You can also connect to the GitHub repositories within third-party editor tools like Visual Studio, Unity and Atom. Thus, GitHub not only serves the purpose of a version control system but also provides numerous third-party integrations to ensure smooth functioning of the entire SDLC through the implementation of DevOps practices irrespective of the ecosystem and infrastructure you are working upon.

GitHub Support For Automation Servers

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The primary goal of continuous integration is to accept the regular code commits and continuously build it after ensuring it is free from bugs. Some well-known build tools include Jenkins, Bamboo CI, Travis CI, Maven and Azure DevOps. With the help of GitHub plugins, you can integrate automation servers and build tools to GitHub repositories. For example, Jenkins is itself located on GitHub. It has numerous plugins for integrating into GitHub. The major steps to integrate Jenkins instance with GitHub include:

  • Build Integration
  • Authentication Integration


GitHub is, without a doubt, one of the go-to places for open-source community projects. Some of the well-known and popular projects, such as Node.js and Bootstrap are hosted on GitHub. In fact, most of Microsoft’s code base for developer tools and languages are available as open-source on GitHub. Not only are public projects free on GitHub, but it also offers paid private repositories. Hence, if you are working on an open-source project which requires numerous third-party integrations, then opting for DevOps methodologies with GitHub would be a great choice. 

To sum things up, GitHub plays a vital role when you want to implement the DevOps workflow upon your Git repositories. Starting from code build until code release on production, GitHub offers you a wide range of services and integrations to automate the entire pipeline. With the origin of GitHub Actions, it is safe to say that GitHub is now not just limited to version control; rather, it has become a powerful platform to implement the entire CI/CD workflow of your project. 

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