GitHub Actions Users: Gain unprecedented visibility with ReleaseIQ integration

July 6, 2022
Product Updates
Kiruthika Chandrasekaran

GitHub Actions is one of the many options that users prefer to implement continuous software deployment and delivery(CI/CD) by ensuring quick software delivery. 

It is a configurable tool to support pipelines for DevOps activities like build, testing and deploying. Configurations can be defined and are implemented within well-structured Yaml files for a workflow. Actions are triggered by GitHub platform events directly in a repo and run on-demand workflows either on Linux, Windows or macOS virtual machines or inside a hosted container in response. With GitHub Actions, you can automate your workflow from idea to production.

Automate everything within the GitHub flow - Actions in GitHub offer you with ability to apply powerful automation directly in your repositories, allowing you to create your own actions or choose from the readily available actions on the GitHub Marketplace to integrate your most preferred tools directly into the repository.

Components of GitHub Actions 

Workflow - A workflow configuration may define events, jobs and steps with each job. Workflows are defined in the GitHub repository under the .github/workflows folder.

Event - Events are repository activities which can trigger the workflow. These can be like pull requests, opening an issue, or pushing a commit to a repository. Workflows can also be triggered manually or via an API call. Workflows can also be triggered on a schedule.

Job - Jobs contain a set of steps in a workflow that runs on the same runner. A workflow can define where many jobs are executed in parallel unless dependencies on another job are specified within the job specifications.

Step - Each step in a job can be a shell script or an action to execute a functionality within the workflow job.

Action - Actions are individual tasks that can be combined to create jobs and customize the workflow. Actions are defined in the GitHub repository under the .github/actions folder.

Runner - Runners is a server which runs the workflows. Each runner can run a single job at a time. By choosing GitHub Actions, you can take advantage of built-in runners for standard environments like Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu Linux or Mac. Optionally you can still run it in your hosted environments.

Source: GitHub Actions

Integration with Release IQ

ReleaseIQ platform offers support for integration with external tools to orchestrate the DevOps process. The platform supports defining the pipeline components and their settings and composing pipelines for applications for the user’s organization. 

Currently, ReleaseIQ supports integration with Jenkins, JFrog Pipeline, CircleCI, Spinnaker and Bamboo and many others.  Now ReleaseIQ is extending support for GitHub Actions. One can build pipelines with GitHub Actions for Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery or both. Complex pipelines can be built by mixing multiple integration tools along with GitHub Actions. 

Value for the GitHub Action Users

Deliver fast - ReleaseIQ provides a simple, safe, and secure way for engineering and DevOps teams across all industries and maturities to accelerate software building and testing. And with GitHub Actions integration with ReleaseIQ, it is made even quicker. 

No scripting required - One of the larger dependent criteria is that the way you pass data around your workflow between jobs can be a bit tricky at first. When trying to pass parameters/values in between workflow, you will find yourself needing to use cryptic action syntax or direct .env file insertion to chain each job’s state together. With ReleaseIQ, there is no scripting needed and configurations are passed to pipelines securely and in a pragmatic way. GitHub offers definition and implementation of customers' workflows in well-structured files within their repositories in yaml formats and the actions are well organized as jobs and steps.

Seamless integration - ReleaseIQ offers a vast amount of integrations - no maintenance, no writing – only simple, scalable, self-service extensibility through which you can experience seamless integration with multiple tools at different software development lifecycles for agile software delivery.

Unified pipeline troubleshooting - Lastly, with GitHub Actions, you may still not have any sort of good reporting and oversight on what is happening outside of a given repo. There is no high-level overview of watching executions with a timeline or native deployment tracking, which is something ReleaseIQ gives you. You can have immediate visibility into pipeline failures, troubleshoot pipelines on the ReleaseIQ platform itself and get everyone on the same pace with shared data. 

Actionable Insights - With the dashboard, you can get accurate and latest summary status for all your projects delivered to role-focused dashboards, complete with actionable insights and click in to review the details and take impactful action.

GitHub Action Integration scenarios with ReleaseIQ

There are several use cases where GitHub Actions integration can leverage CI/CD operations. A few examples are mentioned below.

E2E Release Pipelines only with GitHub Actions

For a given application, the Complete CI/CD operations can be supported on the GitHub Actions pipeline alone. This provides the full advantages and flexibility offered by the tool. GitHub Actions offer multiple features. Following are some of them.

  • Jobs within workflows run in parallel to improve performance
  • It is a configurable automated process
  • Can be triggered by events within and outside the repository
  • Support to dispatch a workflow.
  • Starter workflows support is available for CI, CD, security and automation
  • Available for quick and easy implementation.
  • Support for managing artifacts

These features are leveraged in your pipelines at any stage - CI, CD, security and automation or for all of them to simplify and manage your pipelines in a better way. ReleaseIQ platform is available for the GitHub Actions users to drive quality and smooth delivery with reduced efforts and errors while allowing you to use the features of GitHub Actions to the fullest.

E2E Release Pipelines with GitHub Actions and other CI/CD tools(e.g: Jenkins) 

If you are already having working automation, you can always integrate those existing tools that your team is familiar with, using ReleaseIQ. This may give you the flexibility of retaining some of their older architecture and choice for use of a different mix of tools for your benefit. ReleaseIQ will still allow you to compose and manage the composite pipeline.

Users may want to retain certain tools for specific functionality for the following reasons:

  • They have already used a specific tool for a long time and don't prefer to switch
  • They have expertise and experience in using a tool for certain purposes like automated testing or CD. 

They still can integrate GitHub Actions in other portions of their pipelines to take advantage of its features. For example, GitHub Actions can be used only as CI functions and CD supported with other retained tools.  ReleaseIQ being open to all these tools can still facilitate this integration and help the user manage and orchestrate without any issue.

In the following scenario, you may build the CI pipeline with GitHub Actions and CD pipeline with alternate tools like Jenkins, Spinnaker or any other tools. You can add an Approval step between these two pipelines to have better control. 

Complex E2E Release Pipeline

With ReleaseIQ, you can model and orchestrate complex release processes for improved management and optimization. ReleaseIQ supports out-of-the-box integration with other DevOps tools for a unified release experience. Also, it provides end-to-end visibility by orchestrating multiple toolchains.

If your organization is using multiple tools like Jenkins, Spinnaker, Bamboo, and CircleCI already, switching over to GitHub Actions for all the pipelines may pose these challenges.

- Too many parallel efforts on each of the pipelines for migrating to this new tool.

-The pipelines can be modified in different areas like CI  or CD or testing at a time. So eventually can achieve total migration

to this new tool in a phased manner.

ReleaseIQ is a platform supporting all the above tools and you can still create, orchestrate,  and manage them together in a mixed model.

You can create pipelines with many industry-leading CI/CD/CT/CS tools that seamlessly integrate into the ReleaseIQ platform. Complex applications may need multiple pipelines to run in parallel and so you can decide to migrate to GitHub Actions but retain the rest with your older tools. In case you want to replace a different subset of tools with Github Actions, you can still do so in a phased manner. 

How to Configure GitHub Actions in ReleaseIQ

Tool Settings

In ReleaseIQ under Configuration tools settings, the GitHub Action tools can be provisioned.

  • Click Continuous Integration (CI) on the left pane. CI Tool Configuration page opens.
  • Enter the following details on the page:
  • Tool Name*: Enter your CI Tool name, such as Jenkins. You can add any CI tool of your choice.
  • Tool Type*: Select the Tool Type from the drop-down.
  • Tool URL*: Enter the URL for the tool.
  • Username: API Token*: Enter the API Token to access the tool in the specified format.
  • Click SAVE to save the CI Tool configuration. You can view the CI Tool configurations added and appended in the right pane.

Pipeline Composer

GitHub Actions Pipeline can be composed using the pipeline composer tool. In the Tool Name dropdown, you will see GitHub Actions which were configured in the Settings page previously.

In Project choose the GitHub Project and in Plan choose the desired Project Plan.  You can see that all the GitHub workflow and jobs are represented in ReleaseIQ. Add the other steps needed for the pipeline like Deploy, Tests and approval from ReleaseIQ to provide the extended functionality.

Running a Pipeline with an Embedded GitHub Actions Project and Plan

In the ReleaseIQ UI, you can see the last execution of the pipeline. In the component filter choose the component and you will see the pipeline displayed graphically. All the stages and job information of the pipeline containing GitHub Actions will be displayed along with the status of execution.  If the pipeline has failed the GitHub Actions job will be highlighted in red.

Logs for the complete Pipeline

You can explore the logs of each job in the GitHub Actions pipeline. When you select the completed (Success/Failed) Job of GitHub Actions you can see the full logs. Viewing the log, you can see it contains all the logs of the tasks that were configured inside the GitHub Actions jobs.

Our goal is to orchestrate all the different pipelines built using different tools like GitHub Actions, Jenkins, Spinnaker, Bamboo and more - with a unified platform, gain visibility into the status of these pipelines and provide dashboards and metrics to increase insights to resolve failures. Let your teams get the value of visibility and dashboards across the different toolchains without changing the way you work. The ReleaseIQ platform provides exactly those needs for developers, testers, product managers, DevOps and the leadership team.

So ready to speed up the release process and increase your team productivity? Contact our expert team today!