CircleCI Adds Private Orbs to DevOps Toolchain

Content By Devops .com

CircleCI announced today it is enabling IT reams to configure their own private integrations around its namesake continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform.

The company enables integrations with third-party services via reusable config packages, based on YAML files, known as orbs. Now, internal IT teams can create private orbs that they can securely reuse to invoke, for example, a frequently accessed microservice via the command line interface (CLI) and invoked via the CircleCI platform.

CircleCI CEO Jim Rose said the goal is to make DevOps teams more efficient at a time when the number of microservices organizations are reusing is increasing steadily. Rather than having to manually integrate each of those services every time they are needed, a private orb will consistently automate the process using the same template, said Rose. That approach, over time, will enable DevOps teams to more easily build and maintain an ecosystem of microservices, Rose added.

In general, Rose said, with more DevOps teams now working from home to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a greater need to automate as many tasks as possible to enhance overall DevOps productivity. Constructing an orb gives DevOps teams a relatively simple way of achieving that goal, Rose said. Today, there is often a small, elite group within DevOps teams that builds tools to automate processes in a way that the rest of the DevOps team can more easily consume. Private orbs make it easier for anyone on the DevOps team to create a reusable process, said Rose.

Many of those DevOps teams are, of course, attempting to accelerate digital business transformation initiatives launched in response to the pandemic. Those initiatives are generally based on applications being constructed using microservices that, ideally, developers will reuse across multiple projects. The CircleCI private orbs can be remotely invoked from anywhere via the CI/CD platform the company manages on behalf of DevOps teams that employ it.

It’s not clear to what degree IT organizations are shifting CI/CD platforms to the cloud in the wake of the pandemic. In theory, a cloud-based platform is more accessible to DevOps teams that, like most employees, are working from home. Even after the pandemic eventually subsides, many members of DevOps teams will undoubtedly be working from home more regularly.

In the meantime, a recent analysis of data from 11 million workflows on the CircleCI platform suggests that, after an initial spike of activity in the early days of the pandemic, DevOps teams settled into a more deliberate pace of application development after quickly adjusting to what has become the new DevOps normal. That new normal is likely to change again once COVID-19 vaccines become more widely distributed, but there will certainly be no returning to the way applications were built and deployed prior to the pandemic.

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