In our continued effort to drive towards a service oriented architecture each of our teams are continuously improving their deployment processes. Recently our team has focussed on automating as much as possible, putting as much into chat as we can and improving our logging/metrics.

The image below shows at a high level what our teams current deployment pipeline looks like and this post will attempt to summarise some recent changes that have allowed us to automate visibility.

Kicking off a deployment

I wrote previously that we started using chatops to increase visibility operationally. Hubot is central to this and we wrote a small script to kick off deployments within Hipchat

We have two TeamCity instances. The first is used as a build and deployment system to our pre-production servers. The second is used as a deployment system to our production servers. Artifacts from our non-production instance are stored in Artifactory and our production deployment makes an API call to non-production TeamCity to ask for the last successfully pinned build. Pinning a build only occurs when we’re happy that the build is ready to be shipped (passing unit and acceptance tests). The above Hubot command will pin the non-production build, given that the build succeeded, and add a build to the queue in production.

To configure Hubot to do this we wrote a command to setup aliases providing the build id of the build to pin (non-production) and the build id of the build to kick off (production).

Deployment visibility

Our production deployments must be auditable and it’s important that we know what went out with each release and keep a log of this for our Risk Management team. We do this by creating a ticket in JIRA, internally known as a CCB, and this gives us a central store of all deployments by all teams.

In the past these tickets were manually created for each release. We soon realised that this was something we could automate. To do so we created a new “deployment-info” endpoint for our service. This simply contains the SHA of the last commit released along with a time stamp. The first step of our production deploy is to query this endpoint and then using the Github API to get all the commits since that last SHA. These commits are then logged to JIRA to create a CCB ticket using the JIRA API. Each of these steps are automated from TeamCity using grunt tasks. You can find information of the grunt tasks on github as follows:

Build Notifications to Kibana

Once we have a CCB we fire a start and end event from TeamCity containing the build number to Redis which is then piped into Logstash. An event is sent before and after deploying the code to all nodes. This is hugely beneficial because it allows us to plot releases against our graphs in Kibana. Kibana recently added a new feature called Markers. Essentially these are tags that display at the bottom of a graph.

You can find information on this Markers module on github - https://github.com/opentable/grunt-deployment-logger

This has already proved incredibly useful for the team and has allowed us to visually correlate issues or changes in key metrics (response times/requests per second) to releases. The following image shows how these look over several graphs.

##Hipchat build complete notification

Once our deployment pipeline has completed we send a notification to our teams room in Hipchat (as a final step in TeamCity) to inform the team that the release has completed. It’s great to see a deployment start and end in chat. Having a central log of key operations in our team means that we don’t have to go and find information when it’s baked into chat.

Conclusion

We’ve come along way with improving our pipeline and automating visibility. Our team is made up of 4 members; 3 in the office and 1 remote. The ultimate goal is to improve speed of deployment and visibility of events not just within the team but for everyone who is interested. Equally we want to continue to open source by as much as possible, allowing us to share our process with teams inside and outside of our organization. We can release code anywhere in the world and the process is completely centralised in chat. We want to continue to move fast and fix faster.