GitLab Documentation

Deploy Boards

Introduced in GitLab Enterprise Edition Premium 9.0.

GitLab's Deploy Boards offer a consolidated view of the current health and status of each CI environment running on Kubernetes, displaying the status of the pods in the deployment. Developers and other teammates can view the progress and status of a rollout, pod by pod, in the workflow they already use without any need to access Kubernetes.

Overview

With Deploy Boards you can gain more insight into deploys with benefits such as:

Since Deploy Boards are tightly coupled with Kubernetes, there is some required knowledge. In particular you should be familiar with:

Here's an example of a Deploy Board of the production environment.

Deploy Boards landing page

The squares represent pods in your Kubernetes cluster that are associated with the given environment. Hovering above each square you can see the state of a deploy rolling out. The percentage is the percent of the pods that are updated to the latest release. The squares with dots represent canary deployment pods.

Requirements

In order to gather the deployment status you need to label your deployments, replica sets, and pods with the app key and use the CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG as a value. Each project will need to have a unique namespace in Kubernetes as well.

Deploy Boards Kubernetes Label

The complete requirements for Deploy Boards to display for a specific environment are:

  1. You should have a Kubernetes cluster up and running.
  2. GitLab Runner should be configured with the Docker or Kubernetes executor.
  3. Configure the Kubernetes service in your project for the cluster. The Kubernetes namespace is of particular note as you will need it for your deployment scripts (exposed by the KUBE_NAMESPACE env variable).
  4. Ensure a Kubernetes label of app: $CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG is applied to the deployments, replica sets, and pods, where $CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG the value of the CI variable. This is so we can lookup the proper environment in a cluster/namespace which may have more than one. These resources should be contained in the namespace defined in the Kubernetes service setting. You can use an Autodeploy .gitlab-ci.yml template which has predefined stages and commands to use, and automatically applies the labeling.
  5. To track canary deployments you need to label your deployments and pods with track: canary. This allows GitLab to discover whether deployment is stable or canary (temporary). Read more in the Canary deployments section.

Once all of the above are set up and the pipeline has run at least once, navigate to the environments page under Pipelines ➔ Environments.

Deploy Boards are visible by default. You can explicitly click the triangle next to their respective environment name in order to hide them. GitLab will then query Kubernetes for the state of each node (e.g., waiting, deploying, finished, unknown), and the Deploy Board status will finally appear.

GitLab will only display a Deploy Board for top-level environments. Foldered environments like review/* (usually used for Review Apps) won't have a Deploy Board attached to them.

Canary deployments

When embracing Continuous Delivery, a company needs to decide what type of deployment strategy to use. One of the most popular strategies is canary deployments, where a small portion of the fleet is updated to the new version first. This subset, the canaries, then serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If there is a problem with the new version of the application, only a small percentage of users are affected and the change can either be fixed or quickly reverted.

To start using canary deployments, in addition to the requirements of Deploy Boards, you also need to label your deployments and pods with the canary label (track: canary).

In the end, depending on the deploy, the label should be either stable or canary. This allows GitLab to discover whether deployment is stable or canary (temporary). To get started quickly, you can use the Autodeploy template for canary deployments that GitLab provides.

Canary deployments are marked with a yellow dot in the Deploy Board so that you can easily notice them.

Canary deployments on Deploy Board

Further reading