CDF SIG Interoperability 2020: Year in Review

By January 19, 2021Blog

Contributed by Fatih Degirmenci and Kara de la Marck

The formation of the Interoperability Special Interest Group (SIG) was approved by the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) TOC in January 2020, and this week marks the first year of the SIG’s formation. 🎉 We wanted to reflect on the past year, the work we’ve been doing, and our achievements. We have made great strides in bringing people together; growing our community; getting to know each other; improving communication on interoperability and common concepts among projects within the CI/CD ecosystem, including identifying challenges and trends; and starting work on an initial set of topics of critical interest.

The value of promoting greater discussion and work on interoperability within the CI/CD ecosystem became evident in October 2019, when the CDF Governing Board ratified 9 strategic goals, including fostering tool interoperability.

This was great news for contributors to the CDF since many were interested in tackling interoperability challenges in a collaborative manner. The hallway track at conferences and other events has traditionally been fertile ground for meeting individuals with common interests and brainstorming ways of collaborating. We have found this to be especially true in open source! Happily, during KubeCon 2019, there were several people interested in working on CI/CD interoperability and building wider community collaboration on the topic. Discussions started on forming a special interest group on the topic and the proposal to form SIG Interoperability was submitted during the conference while collecting swag! 👕🧦🍭

sig meeting conference

We would like to celebrate how the Interoperability SIG has grown during its first year and how much engagement there has been from the community. When the Interoperability SIG was proposed, 6 individuals from 6 companies, representing 3 communities signed up as members to the SIG. Thanks to the CDF and the wider community, membership of the SIG increased significantly and the SIG currently has 23 members from 19 companies, representing 9 communities. We are excited by this growth as engagement with and by the wider community is critical to finding the best ways to increase and promote interoperability. Without fellow community members, it is impossible to even start talking about the problems we all face with CI/CD interoperability. Additionally, it’s important to note that participants of the SIG come from a variety of industries such as webscale, telecommunications, e-commerce, and entertainment. This enables cross-pollination across different industries.

interop sig logos

As highlighted earlier, one of the first things we did as a SIG was to focus on how best to communicate with each other regarding our CI/CD tools and processes. The CI/CD domain lacks a common terminology: what is named in one tool is named differently in another, making it difficult for us to talk to each other. To address this issue, the community started working on a document where the terms used by different tools are listed together. In addition to this, we did our best to map these terms across different tools to make it easier for people to understand how the processes, terminology, and workings of these tools relate to each other. The document currently contains 16 different tools and we call it the “Rosetta Stone for CI/CD”.

In addition to contributing the CI/CD Rosetta Stone to the domain, we also released the very first version of the Interoperability SIG Roadmap, based on the numerous conversations we had during our meetings within the SIG. The roadmap is available in the SIG repository and we will keep it up to date based on the latest work we do within the SIG and the CDF.

roadmap-rosetta
roadmap

We also have developed a whitepaper in CI/CD Interoperability, summarizing the challenges, areas of focus, and the work of the SIG. In addition to these topics, there are case studies contributed by community members, talking about the challenges they face with CI/CD and their approach to addressing them. We expect this whitepaper to be published during the coming weeks so please keep an eye on the CDF Website and subscribe to the CDF Newsletter.

A few initial areas for improving interoperability among CI/CD tools stood out this year during our SIG discussions. Early in the year, a few SIG participants highlighted the events based approach they take when establishing end-to-end and complex pipelines. They decided to form a focused workstream with others interested to work on this topic under the name of “Events in CI/CD”. This workstream is creating answers to questions such as what is an event, what could events look like, what could they contain, and events concepts (e.g. light or heavy). This effort is getting a lot of interest and traction and more work will be done during 2021.

Another topic we started working on in SIG Interoperability is metadata standardization. If a simple CD pipeline is considered, one can notice the types and amounts of data produced and consumed for a commit to be submitted to a repository, built into an artifact (e.g., container image), then tested and scanned for potential vulnerabilities, and finally getting deployed in a production environment with real user traffic. Few types of produced and consumed metadata belong to commits, artifacts, test, release, and deployment. Even though there are initiatives around aligning how such metadata is produced and consumed, we believe a holistic approach will enable the establishment of standards. This work has started recently and we are in the process of collecting existing efforts and analyzing them to find overlaps, similarities, and gaps.

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In the incredibly difficult year that was 2020, we are grateful for the interest and participation in the Interoperability SIG of individuals from the CDF and its sister communities. Their contributions have enabled the SIG to make amazing progress in building the foundations for future CI/CD interoperability. In 2021, we look forward to making a broader impact on the open-source CI/CD ecosystem. We will more fully address the challenges we all face caused by a lack of interoperability among the rapidly proliferating tools within the CI/CD ecosystem, due to an absence of harmonization and standardization. We welcome contributions from fellow members of our community, the CDF, and all communities active within the CI/CD domain. We believe a  collaborative approach will foster greater harmonization and ultimately pave the way for the creation of standards that enable interoperability among CI/CD tools. 

We thank all the community members for the contributions they have made and invite everyone to join us on our journey. You can find more information about the work we are doing and how to participate in the SIG Interoperability repository and on the CDF website.

Happy New Year to each and every one of you!