AWS DevOps Blog

CI/CD with Data: Enabling Data Portability in a Software Delivery Pipeline with AWS Developer Tools, Kubernetes, and Portworx

This post is written by Eric Han – Vice President of Product Management Portworx and Asif Khan – Solutions Architect

Data is the soul of an application. As containers make it easier to package and deploy applications faster, testing plays an even more important role in the reliable delivery of software. Given that all applications have data, development teams want a way to reliably control, move, and test using real application data or, at times, obfuscated data.

For many teams, moving application data through a CI/CD pipeline, while honoring compliance and maintaining separation of concerns, has been a manual task that doesn’t scale. At best, it is limited to a few applications, and is not portable across environments. The goal should be to make running and testing stateful containers (think databases and message buses where operations are tracked) as easy as with stateless (such as with web front ends where they are often not).

Why is state important in testing scenarios? One reason is that many bugs manifest only when code is tested against real data. For example, we might simply want to test a database schema upgrade but a small synthetic dataset does not exercise the critical, finer corner cases in complex business logic. If we want true end-to-end testing, we need to be able to easily manage our data or state.

In this blog post, we define a CI/CD pipeline reference architecture that can automate data movement between applications. We also provide the steps to follow to configure the CI/CD pipeline.


Stateful Pipelines: Need for Portable Volumes

As part of continuous integration, testing, and deployment, a team may need to reproduce a bug found in production against a staging setup. Here, the hosting environment is comprised of a cluster with Kubernetes as the scheduler and Portworx for persistent volumes. The testing workflow is then automated by AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodePipeline, and AWS CodeBuild.

Portworx offers Kubernetes storage that can be used to make persistent volumes portable between AWS environments and pipelines. The addition of Portworx to the AWS Developer Tools continuous deployment for Kubernetes reference architecture adds persistent storage and storage orchestration to a Kubernetes cluster. The example uses MongoDB as the demonstration of a stateful application. In practice, the workflow applies to any containerized application such as Cassandra, MySQL, Kafka, and Elasticsearch.

Using the reference architecture, a developer calls CodePipeline to trigger a snapshot of the running production MongoDB database. Portworx then creates a block-based, writable snapshot of the MongoDB volume. Meanwhile, the production MongoDB database continues serving end users and is uninterrupted.

Without the Portworx integrations, a manual process would require an application-level backup of the database instance that is outside of the CI/CD process. For larger databases, this could take hours and impact production. The use of block-based snapshots follows best practices for resilient and non-disruptive backups.

As part of the workflow, CodePipeline deploys a new MongoDB instance for staging onto the Kubernetes cluster and mounts the second Portworx volume that has the data from production. CodePipeline triggers the snapshot of a Portworx volume through an AWS Lambda function, as shown here




AWS Developer Tools with Kubernetes: Integrated Workflow with Portworx

In the following workflow, a developer is testing changes to a containerized application that calls on MongoDB. The tests are performed against a staging instance of MongoDB. The same workflow applies if changes were on the server side. The original production deployment is scheduled as a Kubernetes deployment object and uses Portworx as the storage for the persistent volume.

The continuous deployment pipeline runs as follows:

  • Developers integrate bug fix changes into a main development branch that gets merged into a CodeCommit master branch.
  • Amazon CloudWatch triggers the pipeline when code is merged into a master branch of an AWS CodeCommit repository.
  • AWS CodePipeline sends the new revision to AWS CodeBuild, which builds a Docker container image with the build ID.
  • AWS CodeBuild pushes the new Docker container image tagged with the build ID to an Amazon ECR registry.
  • Kubernetes downloads the new container (for the database client) from Amazon ECR and deploys the application (as a pod) and staging MongoDB instance (as a deployment object).
  • AWS CodePipeline, through a Lambda function, calls Portworx to snapshot the production MongoDB and deploy a staging instance of MongoDB• Portworx provides a snapshot of the production instance as the persistent storage of the staging MongoDB
    • The MongoDB instance mounts the snapshot.

At this point, the staging setup mimics a production environment. Teams can run integration and full end-to-end tests, using partner tooling, without impacting production workloads. The full pipeline is shown here.



This reference architecture showcases how development teams can easily move data between production and staging for the purposes of testing. Instead of taking application-specific manual steps, all operations in this CodePipeline architecture are automated and tracked as part of the CI/CD process.

This integrated experience is part of making stateful containers as easy as stateless. With AWS CodePipeline for CI/CD process, developers can easily deploy stateful containers onto a Kubernetes cluster with Portworx storage and automate data movement within their process.

The reference architecture and code are available on GitHub:

● Reference architecture:
● Lambda function source code for Portworx additions:

For more information about persistent storage for containers, visit the Portworx website. For more information about Code Pipeline, see the AWS CodePipeline User Guide.