Progressive Delivery

How to use progressive delivery with helm 3 and helmfile

Progressive delivery allows you to gradually rollout new versions of your application to an environment using canaries and gradually giving traffic to the new version until you are happy to fully rollover to the new version.

Our recommendation for using progressive delivery with Jenkins X is to use:

  • flagger as the progressive delivery controller
  • istio as the service mesh to provide advanced load balancing capabilities across internal or external networking

Configuring Progressive Delivery

Please follow the usual getting started guide for boot and helm 3

Add the istio and flagger apps

Please make sure your helmfile.yaml has the necessary apps for using flagger and istio. Your helmfile.yaml in your development environment git repository should look something like this:

- chart: jx-labs/istio
- chart: flagger/flagger
- chart: flagger/grafana
- chart: jx-labs/flagger-metrics
- chart: stable/kuberhealthy

So that you remove stable/nginx-ingress from your helmfile.yaml file and ensure the above apps are added at the top of the file.

Also for now I’m afraid you will have to remove the jenkins-x/jxui chart as its currently not working yet with istio ingress - but we can hopefully get that working soon.

Enable istio based ingress

To avoid having 2 LoadBalancer services for both istio and nginx (which costs more money) its easier to switch to pure istio for both internal and external load balancing. This also results in a smaller footprint.

To do that ensure that kind: istio is added to the jx-requirements.yml file in the top level ingress: section like this:

  domain: ""
  kind: istio

Now your development git repository should be setup and be ready. Now:

When it is all complete you should see istio, flagger, grafana pods running in the istio-system namespace something like this:

$ kubectl get pod -n istio-system
NAME                                    READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
flagger-66dc49cd-g6ptp                  1/1     Running   0          32h
grafana-7d7d7476f6-ff6bm                1/1     Running   0          32h
istio-ingressgateway-598796f4d9-sq8b7   1/1     Running   0          32h
istiod-7d9c7bdd6-vjp9j                  1/1     Running   0          32h
kuberhealthy-f54f7f7df-b5gbf            1/1     Running   2          32h
kuberhealthy-f54f7f7df-j6qwt            1/1     Running   0          32h
prometheus-b47d8c58c-n974m              2/2     Running   0          32h

From 1.5 onwards istio is pretty small; just 2 pods. Note that those kuberhealthy pods are optional and just help with reporting.

Enable istio in staging/production

If you wish to use a Canary with flagger and istio in your staging or production namespace you need to make sure you have labelled the namespace correctly to enable istio injection.

To enable istio in staging:

kubectl label namespace jx-staging istio-injection=enabled

To enable istio in production:

kubectl label namespace jx-production istio-injection=enabled

Defaulting to use Canary

Run the following command to default to using canary deployments and horizontal pod autoscaling whenever you create a new quickstart or import a project

jx edit deploy --team --canary --hpa

This will enable all new quickstarts and imported projects to use canary rollouts and use horizontal pod autoscaling in all environments.

You can switch the defaults back again at any time or configure any app to change its defaults by running jx edit deploy inside a git clone of an application.

Enabling/Disabling Canary/HPA in an Environment

If you want to enable/disable canary or horizontal pod autoscaling for a specific app in an environment then you can follow the app customisation approach.

Assuming your app is called myapp then in the git repository for the environment (e.g. Staging) you can add/edit a file called apps/mychart/values.yaml to look like this:

  enabled: true

  enabled: true

you can enable/disable those 2 flags for canary releases and horizontal pod autoscaler at any point in any environment.

Using Progressive Delivery

Once you have followed the above steps create a quickstart application in the usual way.

As you merge changes to the master branch of your application Jenkins X will create a new release and promote it to the staging environment.

However if Canary deployment is enabled your new version will gradually be rolled out progressively:

  • the defaults are that 20% of the traffic will go to the new version
  • flagger will keep monitoring the metrics used in the Canary resource to determine if the canary is good
  • after the configured time period is over the traffic will be increased to 40% then 60%
  • eventually if things look good the new version will fully rollout to 100% traffic
  • if anything goes bad during the rollout time period the old version is restored

There is an excellent video showing this in action.

Last modified February 23, 2021: fix: better layout (1cb365945b)