My Ideal Continuous Integration Server

Posted on November 04, 2014 in Continuous Integration • 2 min read

I've spent the last week looking at various CI solutions. My main criteria were:

It started with an attempt at wrangling the defacto tool, Jenkins into a usable system but that quickly proved to be an uphill battle. Overly complication configuration aside, the final straw with Jenkins was being unable to configure GitHub Web Hooks, however that capability was dependent on having GitHub configured as the authentication method for users.

That's a pretty flawed design that speaks to a poor separation of concerns; authentication strategy should not be tangled with an unrelated feature of the product. Overall, I think the legacy of Jenkins' plugin architecture is weighing it (and its users) down.

I also took a look at numerous open source competitors to Jenkins as well as SaaS-based solutions. Pretty much all of these fell short on Goal #2, which lead to me a conclusion that everyone out there either:

  • is deploying code straight into production via automation (Continuous Deployment)
  • poured weeks of developer time into Jenkins
  • gave up on Jenkins and rolled a custom solution

I wasn't ready to commit to any of these at the immediate moment, so the situation was looking pretty bleak. I threw out a tweet to vent my frustration at the state of CI/CD solutions. Chad Wathington replied that ThoughtWorks had recently open sourced their Continuous Delivery solution named Go (not to be confused with Golang, an issue they're acutely aware of).

So far, I'm pretty impressed. As far as open source self-hostable CI solutions go, it's not nearing an complicated and limiting as Jenkins. It does seem a tad more complicated than I need, but it's likely because my initial pass at getting a pipeline is intended to be a simple one.

I still feel like Go is needs a lot of work and hope to contribute to it myself at some point (although I wish it wasn't written in Java).

I've also got feeling that I should take a stab at my own solution (to be done on my own time, not my employer's). There's a lot to still be done in this space and I have a gut feeling that it needs a fresh approach that incorporates all these learnings. The fresh start is needed because an ideal solution for CI needs back pressure against complexity.