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Artifact Repository in Continuous Delivery | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #APM

We explain why tools like Maven uses an artifact repository and so should anyone designing a continuous delivery process

Why You Need an Artifact Repository for Continuous Delivery
By Ron Gidron

Both prospects and customers often ask me why we need an artifact repository. Some think that as their favorite CI (Continuous Integration) server such as Jenkins already stores the output of each build, maybe there's no need to add an artifact repository to their existing tool chain. Others simply wonder why they need such a repository at all.

In this blog post I'll discuss why it's essential for any continuous delivery and deployment project to version everything, and why artifact repositories such as Artifactory or Nexus are great choices for managing binary and other artifacts.

What repositories do
Let's start with some basics: Artifact repositories manage collections of artifacts (binaries or any type of files really) and metadata in a defined directory structure. They are typically used by software build tools such as Maven (in the Java world) as sources for retrieving and storing needed artifacts. But there is really no limit to what you can store in an artifact repository. Some examples:

  • Any type of binary
  • Source archives
  • Flash archives
  • Documentation bundles

Why use a repository?
Artifact repositories are great at managing multilevel dependencies, much better then the old text file with a list that developers update and maintain. This dependency management is critical for reducing errors and ensuring the right pieces make it with each build/deployment/release, especially in large-scale business applications.

Repositories also support the notion of snapshot and release versions, where snapshots are intermediate versions of said artifact (usually marked with a data and timestamp attached to the version number) and release versions are those that are marked for "official" release. Metadata that describes each artifact and its dependencies is great for governance and security.

How repositories work
Artifact repositories use a standard addressing mechanism for accessing artifacts, which really simplifies automation. It also assists the parameterization of searching and retrieving versioned artifacts from these repositories, often using a REST call with a URL translation for the directory structure...OK, now I'm geeking out more than is necessary for this blog entry!

Basically, if you're in the process of designing a continuous delivery and automated deployment process for either an application, a department or even your entire IT landscape, we highly recommend you take a look at an artifact repository and make sure to version everything.

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