CI/CD with AWS: Continuous Delivery Best Practices

CI/CD with AWS: Continuous Delivery Best Practices
By Jay Smith / on 07 Sep, 2023

CI/CD pipelines automate the process of building, testing, and deploying applications. Key benefits include:

  • Faster release cycles
  • Improved code quality
  • Reduced risk

The pipeline is comprised of stages that form a workflow to take code changes and release them to users:

| Stage | Description | |-|-|
| Source | Pull code from repository | | Build | Compile code and bundle artifacts | | Test | Run automated tests | | Deploy | Release artifacts to environments |

Each stage acts as a quality gate to verify the code. Automated testing and approvals prevent bad code from being released.

Implementing CI/CD on AWS

AWS provides a suite of services to enable CI/CD pipelines for applications deployed on AWS infrastructure.

AWS CodePipeline

Orchestrates the end-to-end pipeline. CodePipeline automates the steps required to release software changes:

  • Source code changes trigger the pipeline
  • Artifacts are built, tested, and deployed
  • Approvals control deployments to production

CodePipeline integrates with GitHub for source code and AWS services like CodeBuild and CodeDeploy to implement the pipeline stages.

AWS CodeCommit

Fully managed source control service to store application source code and artifacts. CodeCommit enables collaboration for developers with features like pull requests and comments.

AWS CodeBuild

Fully managed build service to compile source code, run tests, and package code into deployment artifacts. CodeBuild scales automatically to meet variable build demands.

AWS CodeDeploy

Automates application deployments to EC2 instances, Lambda functions, ECS services, and on-premises servers. CodeDeploy can use automatic rollbacks to revert failed deployments.

Additional Components

Other AWS services support implementing CI/CD pipelines:

  • Amazon S3 - Store artifacts like compiled code and container images
  • AWS Lambda - Run test suites and automate deployment tasks
  • Amazon CloudWatch - Monitor builds, tests, and deployments
  • AWS IAM - Manage user access and pipeline permissions

CI/CD capabilities are also available in services like AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS Fargate, AWS Lambda, and Amazon ECS.

For example, Elastic Beanstalk can automatically build and deploy code changes from GitHub or CodeCommit.

In summary, AWS provides compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, security, and other services to support CI/CD workloads. AWS managed services remove the operational burden of setting up traditional CI/CD infrastructure.

Key components of a pipeline

A CI/CD pipeline on AWS consists of stages that form an automated workflow to take code changes through build, test, and deployment processes.

Source Stage

The source stage connects the pipeline to the code repository to monitor for changes. Common sources are:

  • AWS CodeCommit - Managed Git repository
  • GitHub - Popular third-party Git repository
  • Amazon S3 - Binary artifacts like container images

The pipeline is triggered when code is pushed to the repository or new artifacts are uploaded to S3.

Build Stage

The build stage takes source code and compiles, assembles, and packages it into deployable artifacts.

AWS CodeBuild is commonly used to run build jobs in parallel. CodeBuild can build Docker images and store them in Amazon ECR.

Test Stage

The test stage runs automated tests to validate code quality before release. Example tests:

  • Unit tests - Isolate and test individual components
  • Integration tests - Validate interactions between components
  • Functional tests - Verify the system works end-to-end

AWS Lambda functions can execute tests suites and integrate with reporting tools.

Deploy Stage

The deploy stage installs the tested artifacts onto environments like development, staging, and production. AWS CodeDeploy automates application deployments to:

  • Amazon EC2 instances
  • AWS Lambda functions
  • Amazon ECS services
  • On-premises servers

Monitoring Quality Gates

Amazon CloudWatch monitors key pipeline metrics like build duration, test coverage, and deployment status. Alerts can notify teams of failures.

Approval gates before production deploys ensure code meets quality standards. Rollbacks undo changes if deployments fail or error rates spike.

Integrating pipelines with other AWS services

In addition to core CI/CD components like CodeCommit, CodeBuild, and CodeDeploy, pipelines integrate with other AWS services:

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 serves as a secure repository for artifacts like compiled code and container images. S3 buckets can act as:

  • A source for binaries that trigger pipelines
  • Storage for artifacts produced during builds
  • A deployment destination for static websites

S3 also hosts pipeline metadata, logs, and reporting. Bucket policies secure access.

Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch collects pipeline logs and metrics to monitor performance. CloudWatch dashboards visualize trends like:

  • Build duration and test pass rates
  • Deployment frequency and lead time
  • Error rates and availability post-deployment

CloudWatch events can trigger alerts on failures or changes.


AWS IAM secures pipeline resources and stages with granular identity policies. Example controls:

  • Restrict code repository access
  • Limit build permissions to specific CodeBuild projects
  • Require approvals before prod deployments

IAM integration allows implementing least privilege access.

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda functions implement pipeline automation logic like:

  • Running test cases
  • Building Docker images
  • Invoking deployments
  • Rolling back failed changes

Lambda scales automatically to meet demands without managing servers.

Additional Integrations

Pipelines can integrate other services like:

  • Amazon ECR for Docker registry
  • AWS Fargate for build environments
  • Amazon RDS for test databases
  • AWS Secrets Manager for credentials

Best practices for CI/CD on AWS

Here are key best practices for implementing robust CI/CD pipelines on AWS:

Infrastructure as Code

Use AWS CloudFormation and AWS CDK to define pipelines, environments, and supporting resources in code. Benefits:

  • Version control of entire environments
  • Repeatable and automated provisioning
  • Eliminates configuration drift

Changes can be reviewed and improvements made to the definitions over time.

Small Batches and Frequent Builds

Develop in small batches committed frequently rather than large infrequent changes. This:

  • Avoid long-running and complex builds
  • Isolates issues to smaller changes
  • Enables faster feedback on quality

Aim for at least one build per day across the organization.

Automated Testing

Rigorously automate tests at unit, integration, and functional levels. Achieve:

  • Prevent broken code from being released
  • Improve code quality over time
  • Reduce manual validation overhead

Prioritize test automation in sprints - treat it as a feature.

Rollback Procedures

Design automated rollback procedures through AWS CloudFormation and use CodeDeploy’s automated rollback capability. This:

  • Quickly reverts failed changes
  • Minimizes error impact and downtime
  • Restores stability rapidly after issues

Cross-Account Deployment

Use separate AWS accounts for dev, test, and prod. Benefits:

  • Isolate teams and environments
  • Limit blast radius of failures
  • Enforce separation of duties

AWS Organizations simplifies account management.

Security considerations

CI/CD pipelines should implement security best practices including:


Encrypt artifacts both in transit and at rest:

  • Use HTTPS connections for pipeline webhooks
  • Enable encryption on S3 buckets storing artifacts
  • Manage keys with AWS KMS

This protects intellectual property and prevents data leaks.

Least Privilege Access

Grant IAM identities minimal permissions using policies:

  • Read-only access to repositories
  • Restrict CodeBuild project access
  • Limit CodeDeploy to specific groups
  • Require approvals for production deployments

Secrets Management

Avoid hardcoding credentials and keys in pipeline definitions. Instead use:

  • AWS Secrets Manager to securely reference secrets
  • AWS Parameter Store for simple key-value pairs
  • IAM roles for temporary credentials

Rotate secrets regularly.

Infrastructure Security

Harden the supporting infrastructure:

  • Use VPCs, subnets, and security groups
  • Leverage AWS WAF on ALBs
  • Scan images for vulnerabilities
  • Remediate issues identified via AWS Security Hub

Audit Logging

Enable AWS CloudTrail to capture API activity across pipeline components and services. Regularly audit logs for anomalies.


Configure Amazon CloudWatch alarms to notify on key pipeline failures and metrics breaching thresholds. Setup alerting integrations with ticketing systems.

Automated Testing

Integrate security testing tools that run during pipeline test stages, including:

  • Static code analysis
  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Penetration testing

Fix issues before merging code.

Adopting DevOps with CI/CD

Implementing CI/CD facilitates adoption of DevOps practices:

Breaking down silos

CI/CD brings developers and operations teams together with shared tools and workflows. Benefits:

  • Increase collaboration
  • Foster shared responsibility
  • Improve system understanding

Break down organizational silos through training and shared KPIs.

Fostering collaboration

Developers gain insight into how code performs in production. SREs learn application internals. Outcomes:

  • Developers gain operational skills
  • SREs provide developer feedback
  • Cross-functional teams form

Encourage partnerships through job shadowing and rotation programs.

Measuring velocity

CI/CD provides objective metrics like:

  • Lead time from commit to production
  • Deployment frequency
  • Time to restore service after incidents

Track velocity over time as practices mature. Use data to drive improvements.

Reliability mindset

CI/CD facilitates practices like progressive rollouts and canary deployments that reduce failure risk.

Focus on building resilience versus just preventing downtime. Use successes and failures as learning opportunities.

Blameless culture

Do not punish people for causing failures. Foster an environment where it is safe to take risks and learn from mistakes.

Customer focus

Ultimate goal is to accelerate delivering customer value, not just deploying features. Keep customer experience front and center.

Continuous experimentation

Constantly try new ideas to improve architecture, code, and operational practices. Leverage CI/CD to rapidly experiment.

Challenges and pitfalls

Common challenges and pitfalls when implementing CI/CD include:

Lack of test automation

Skipping automated testing leads to poor code quality and risky releases. Causes include:

  • Lack of time allotted for testing
  • Over reliance on manual QA
  • Difficulty testing complex systems

Prioritize and invest in test automation. Start small and expand coverage iteratively.

Complex pipelines

Overly complex pipelines with too many tools and steps create fragility:

  • Hard to troubleshoot failures
  • Lead to delays debugging issues
  • Slow feedback on problems

Aim for simplicity - add steps only as needed. Refactor bloated pipelines.

Poor visibility

Limited observability into pipeline health and test results reduces effectiveness:

  • Blind to build and deployment frequency
  • Failures go undetected
  • Cannot assess quality metrics

Incorporate monitoring and dashboards from the start.

Skill gaps

Adopting CI/CD requires both technical and cultural skills:

  • Developer expertise with automation
  • Operations skills around deployments
  • Soft skills for collaboration

Provide training and mentoring to close gaps. Leverage outside help.

Organizational resistance

Some teams resist perceived loss of control or visibility:

  • Pushback on automation
  • Hesitation to change processes
  • Lack of trust in changes

Get stakeholder buy-in. Demonstrate benefits gradually.

Overconfidence in automation

Automation can lull teams into complacency:

  • Assuming quality without checks
  • Forgetting failures can still occur
  • Letting skills atrophy

Balance automation with human oversight. Retain non-automated safeguards.

CI/CD for specific applications

While CI/CD concepts are universal, pipeline implementation varies for different application architectures:


AWS CodePipeline can deploy serverless applications built with AWS SAM and hosted in AWS Lambda:

  • Trigger pipelines from GitHub or CodeCommit
  • Build SAM templates with CodeBuild
  • Execute automated tests with Lambda test functions
  • Deploy to dev and prod stages in CodeDeploy

Validate changes safely via canary and linear deployments.


For containerized applications, pipelines build Docker images and push them to Amazon ECR:

  • CodeBuild builds images from Dockerfiles and pushes to ECR
  • Scan images for vulnerabilities with tools like Prisma Cloud
  • Deploy containers to Amazon ECS or AWS Fargate with CodeDeploy
  • Implement blue/green deployments

Network Functions

CI/CD is critical for network operators to deliver Virtual Network Functions (VNFs):

  • Use AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK) to define network infra as code
  • Build VNF images in CodeBuild and store in ECR
  • Run simulated traffic tests before deployment
  • Orchestrate NFV deployments with CodePipeline
  • Integrate with AWS managed services like Amazon API Gateway and AWS Lambda

Mainframe Modernization

Modern mainframe applications lend themselves to CI/CD:

  • Decompose monoliths into microservices
  • Containerize services and manage with Amazon ECS
  • Implement automated build, test, and deploy stages
  • Use canary releases to reduce risks
  • Monitor with Amazon CloudWatch and scale with Auto Scaling Here is a 149 word draft of Section X using markdown formatting and relevant LSI keywords:


Implementing CI/CD pipelines on AWS accelerates delivering high quality software through automated workflows. Orchestrate your application pipeline leveraging AWS services like CodeCommit, CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, and CodePipeline.

Automate build, test, and deployment stages while monitoring key metrics and requiring approvals for production. Adopt practices like infrastructure as code, test automation, and cross-account deployments.

As organizations mature their CI/CD capabilities, they see benefits including improved software quality, safer releases, faster feedback on changes, and increased velocity.

However, success requires both technical expertise and willingness to transform culture and processes. With persistence and commitment to learning, teams can enable rapid and reliable delivery of innovation. Looking for help with CI/CD or other advanced cloud technologies? The IT professionals at God Particle IT Group have the skills and experience to architect, build, and manage complex systems at scale. We specialize in cloud platforms like AWS and can provide enterprise-level support to develop and operate applications.

Whether you need assistance with design, implementation, optimization, or managed services, contact us to see how we can help launch your next innovating using DynamoDB. With deep expertise across today’s leading technologies, God Particle IT Group offers responsive, high-touch services to innovate faster. Here are 10 FAQs using markdown formatting and relevant LSI keywords:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the benefits of CI/CD?

CI/CD provides faster feedback on code changes, reduces bugs, and accelerates delivery of features. It does this through automating manual processes like testing and deployment. Benefits include improved software quality, safer releases, and faster time to market.

2. What AWS services can be used for CI/CD?

Core AWS CI/CD services include:

  • CodeCommit - Managed source control
  • CodeBuild - Build automation
  • CodeDeploy - Deployment automation
  • CodePipeline - Orchestration

Other supporting services include AWS Lambda, CloudWatch, S3, and more.

3. How does a CI/CD pipeline work?

A CI/CD pipeline goes through automated stages:

  1. Source - Monitor repository for code changes
  2. Build - Compile, package, and bundle code
  3. Test - Run automated test suites
  4. Deploy - Release artifacts to environments

4. What best practices help CI/CD success?

Key best practices include:

  • Automated testing
  • Infrastructure as code
  • Monitoring and visibility
  • Small frequent changes
  • Cross-account deployment

5. How can I secure my CI/CD pipelines?

Use IAM controls, encrypt artifacts, rotate secrets, scan images, and enable audit logging. Harden supporting infrastructure and integrate security testing.

6. Does CI/CD enable DevOps practices?

Yes, CI/CD facilitates DevOps practices like collaboration, shared ownership, and measuring delivery velocity. It helps teams operate as cross-functional units.

7. What causes CI/CD pipeline failures?

Common failure causes include lack of test automation, complex pipelines, poor monitoring, skill gaps, and organizational resistance.

8. How does CI/CD change for serverless apps?

Serverless CI/CD uses CodePipeline, CodeBuild, and CodeDeploy to build, test, and deploy applications hosted in AWS Lambda.

9. What is CI/CD for containers?

Container CI/CD builds Docker images, stores them in Amazon ECR, scans them, and deploys them to Amazon ECS/Fargate with CodeDeploy.

10. Can mainframe apps use CI/CD?

Yes, modernized mainframe apps can adopt CI/CD best practices like automated build and test, infrastructure as code, and canary releases.