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Spinnaker 1.0: a continuous delivery platform for cloud

June 6, 2017
Christopher Sanson

Product Manager, Google Cloud

At Google we deploy a lot of code: tens of thousands of deployments a day, to thousands of services, seven of which have more than a billion users each around the globe. Along the way we’ve learned some best practices about how to deploy software at velocity — things like automated releases, immutable infrastructure, gradual rollouts and fast rollbacks.

Back in 2014, we started working with the Netflix team that created Spinnaker, and saw in it a release management platform that embodied many of our first principles for safe, frequent and reliable releases. Excited by its potential, we collaborated with Netflix to bring Spinnaker to the public, and they open-sourced it in November 2015. Since then, the Spinnaker community has grown to include dozens of organizations including Microsoft, Oracle, Target, Veritas, Schibsted, Armory and Kenzan, to name a few.

Today we’re happy to announce the release of Spinnaker 1.0, an open-source multi-cloud continuous delivery platform used in production at companies like Netflix, Waze, Target, and Cloudera, plus a new open-source command line interface (CLI) tool called halyard that makes it easy to deploy Spinnaker itself. Read on to learn what Spinnaker can do for your own software development processes.

Why Spinnaker?

Let’s look at a few of the features and new updates that can make Spinnaker a great release management solution for enterprises:

Open-source, multi-cloud deployments
Here at Google Cloud Platform (GCP), we believe in an open cloud. Spinnaker, including its rich UI dashboard, is 100% open-source. You can install it locally, on-prem, or in the cloud, running either on a virtual machine (VM) or Kubernetes.

Spinnaker streamlines the deployment process by decoupling your release pipeline from your target cloud provider, which can reduce the complexity of moving from one platform to another or deploying the same application to multiple clouds.

It has built-in support for Google Compute Engine, Google Container Engine, Google App Engine, AWS EC2, Microsoft Azure, Kubernetes, and OpenStack, with more added every year by the community, including Oracle Bare Metal and DC/OS, coming soon.

Whether you’re releasing to multiple clouds or preventing vendor lock-in, Spinnaker helps you deploy your application based on what’s best for your business.

Automated releases
In Spinnaker, deployments are orchestrated using custom release pipelines, the stages of which can consist of almost anything you want -- integration or system tests, spinning a server group up or down, manual approvals, waiting a period of time, or running a custom script or Jenkins job.

Spinnaker integrates seamlessly with your existing continuous integration (CI) workflows. You can trigger pipelines from git, Jenkins, Travis CI, Docker registries, on a cron-like schedule, or even other pipelines.

Best-practice deployment strategies
Out-of-the-box, Spinnaker supports sophisticated deployment strategies like release canaries, multiple staging environments, red/black (a.k.a. blue/green) deployments, traffic splitting and easy rollbacks.

This is enabled in part by Spinnaker’s use of immutable infrastructure in the cloud, where changes to your application trigger a redeployment of your entire server fleet. Compare this to the traditional approach of configuring updates to running machines, which results in slower, riskier rollouts and hard-to-debug configuration-drift issues.

With Spinnaker, you simply choose the deployment strategy you want to use for each environment, e.g. red/black for staging, rolling red/black for production, and it orchestrates the dozens of steps necessary under-the-hood. You don’t have to write your own deployment tool or maintain a complex web of Jenkins scripts to have enterprise-grade rollouts.

Role-based authorizations and permissions
Large companies often adopt Spinnaker across multiple product areas managed by a central DevOps team. For admins that need role-based access control for a project or account, Spinnaker supports multiple authentication and authorization options, including OAuth, SAML, LDAP, X.509 certs, GitHub teams, Azure groups or Google Groups.

You can also apply permissions to manual judgements, a Spinnaker stage which requires a person’s approval before proceeding with the pipeline, ensuring that a release can’t happen without the right people signing off.

Simplified installation and management with halyard
With the release of Spinnaker 1.0, we’re also announcing the launch of a new CLI tool, halyard, that helps admins more easily install, configure and upgrade a production-ready instance of Spinnaker.

Prior to halyard and Spinnaker 1.0, admins had to manage each of the microservices that make up Spinnaker individually. Starting with 1.0, all new Spinnaker releases are individually versioned and follow semantic versioning. With halyard, upgrading to the latest Spinnaker release is as simple as running a CLI command.

Getting started

Try out Spinnaker and make your deployments faster, safer, and, dare we say, boring.

For more info on Spinnaker, visit the new spinnaker.io website and learn how to get started.

Or if you’re ready to try Spinnaker right now, click here to install and run Spinnaker with Google’s click-to-deploy option in the Cloud Launcher Marketplace.

For questions, feedback, or to engage more with the Spinnaker community, you can find us on the Spinnaker Slack channel, submit issues to the Spinnaker GitHub repository, or ask questions on Stack Overflow using the “spinnaker” tag.

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