Is Your Cluster Ready For Jenkins X?

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you do not want to use jx cluster create to create a new cluster that will host Jenkins X. That is OK, or even welcome. That likely means that you are already experienced with Kubernetes and that you already have applications running in Kubernetes. That’s a sign of maturity and your desire to add Jenkins X to the mix of whichever applications you are already running there. After all, it would be silly to create a new cluster for each set of applications.

However, using an existing Kubernetes cluster is risky. Many people think that they are so smart that they will assemble their Kubernetes cluster from scratch. “We’re so awesome that we don’t need tools like Rancher to create a cluster for us.” “We’ll do it with kubeadm.” Then, after a lot of sweat, we announce that the cluster is operational, only to discover that there is no StorageClass or that networking does not work. So, if you assembled your own cluster and you want to use Jenkins X inside it, you need to ask yourself whether that cluster is set up correctly. Does it have everything we need? Does it comply with standards, or did you tweak it to meet your corporate restrictions? Did you choose to remove StorageClass because all your applications are stateless? Were you forced by your security department to restrict communication between Namespaces? Is the Kubernetes version too old? We can answer those and many other questions by running compliance tests.
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What Is Jenkins X?

To understand intricacies and inner workings of Jenkins X, we need to understand Kubernetes. But, you do not need to understand Kubernetes to use Jenkins X. That is one of the main contributions of the project. Jenkins X allows us to harness the power of Kubernetes without spending eternity learning the ever-growing list of the things it does. Jenkins X helps us by simplifying complex processes into concepts that can be adopted quickly and without spending months in trying to figure out “the right way to do stuff.” It helps by removing and simplifying some of the problems caused by the overall complexity of Kubernetes and its ecosystem. If you are indeed a Kubernetes ninja, you will appreciate all the effort put into Jenkins X. If you’re not, you will be able to jump right in and harness the power of Kubernetes without ripping your hair out of frustration caused by Kubernetes complexity.
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“The DevOps 2.6 Toolkit: Jenkins X” is born

When I finished the last book (The DevOps 2.5 Toolkit: Monitoring, Logging, and Auto-Scaling Kubernetes), I wanted to take a break from writing for a month or two. I thought that would clear my mind and help me decide which subject to tackle next. Those days were horrible. I could not make up my mind. So many cool and useful tech is emerging and being adopted. I was never as undecided as those weeks. Which should be my next step?

I could explore serverless. That’s definitely useful, and it might be considered the next big thing. Or I could dive into Istio. It is probably the biggest and the most important project sitting on top of Kubernetes. Or I could tackle some smaller subjects. Kaniko is the missing link in continuous delivery. Building containers might be the only thing we still do on the host level, and Kaniko allows us to move that process inside containers. How about security scanning? It is one of the things that are mandatory in most organizations, and yet I did not include it in “The DevOps 2.4 Toolkit: Continuous Deployment To Kubernetes”. Then there is skaffold, prow, KNative, and quite a few other tools that are becoming stable and very useful.
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“The DevOps 2.5 Toolkit: Monitoring, Logging, and Auto-Scaling Kubernetes” is available!

The DevOps 2.5 Toolkit: Monitoring, Logging, and Auto-Scaling Kubernetes is finally finished!!!

What do we do in Kubernetes after we master deployments and automate all the processes? We dive into monitoring, logging, auto-scaling, and other topics aimed at making our cluster resilient, self-sufficient, and self-adaptive.
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What Should We Expect From Centralized Logging?

There are quite a few candidates for your need for centralized logging. Which one should you choose? Will it be Papertrail, Elasticsearch-Fluentd-Kibana stack (EFK), AWS CloudWatch, GCP Stackdriver, Azure Log Analytics, or something else?

When possible and practical, I prefer a centralized logging solution provided as a service, instead of running it inside my clusters. Many things are easier when others are making sure that everything works. If we use Helm to install EFK, it might seem like an easy setup. However, maintenance is far from trivial. Elasticsearch requires a lot of resources. For smaller clusters, compute required to run Elasticsearch alone is likely higher than the price of Papertrail or similar solutions. If I can get a service managed by others for the same price as running the alternative inside my own cluster, service wins most of the time. But, there are a few exceptions.
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Visualizing Kubernetes Metrics And Alerts

Dashboards are useless! They are a waste or time. Get Netflix if you want to watch something. It’s cheaper than any other option.

I repeated those words on many public occasions. I think that companies exaggerate the need for dashboards. They spend a lot of effort creating a bunch of graphs and put a lot of people in charge of staring at them. As if that’s going to help anyone. The main advantage of dashboards is that they are colorful and full of lines, boxes, and labels. Those properties are always an easy sell to decision makers like CTOs and heads of departments. When a software vendor comes to a meeting with decision makers with authority to write checks, he knows that there is no sale without “pretty colors”. It does not matter what that software does, but how it looks like. That’s why every software company focuses on dashboards.

Think about it. What good is a dashboard for? Are we going to look at graphs until a bar reaches a red line indicating that a critical threshold is reached? If that’s the case, why not create an alert that will trigger under the same conditions and stop wasting time staring at screens and waiting until something happens. Instead, we can be doing something more useful (like staring Netflix).
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What should you be automating in the development process?

What to automate? Which parts of the delivery process are good candidates? Which applications will benefit from automation? At first, those sound like silly questions. Automate all your repetitive processes. If you think that you’ll do the same thing manually more than once, automate it. Why would you waste your creative potential and knowledge by doing things that are much better done by scripts? If we can create robots that assemble cars, we can surely create a Jenkins job that builds software, runs tests, and deploys containers. Car assembly is undoubtedly harder to accomplish than building software. Yet, an average company does not adhere to that logic. Why is that?

Two main culprits prevent many companies from automating all the repetitive process; silos and legacy code.
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