GitLab CI/CD pipeline for a Service deployed on GCP Cloud Run

Posted by Tobias L. Maier on December 12, 2020

This post explains how to setup and integrate GitLab CI and GCP Cloud Run in order to provide an efficient CI/CD pipeline.


I wanted to deploy a simple API-server for the previously mentioned React App. The API-server is a NodeJS application, which exposes a REST API without any authentication and authorization requirements for now. I selected GCP Cloud Run to host the service.

I chose GCP Cloud Run, due to its simplicity and its serverless characteristics. Serverless is a good fit for this application, as it is currently in a comparatively early stage and will not be used much. An offering, where the application would run 24/7 would be an overkill for the use-case. Cloud Run is simple, as it allows to deploy Containers without me taking care of the complexities of a Kubernetes Cluster.

This blog post will explain how to set up GitLab CI to create a CI/CD pipeline for this API-server, which continuously deploys to staging and production environments.

The CI/CD pipeline consists of three stages: build, test and finally deploy.

Screenshot of the CI/CD-pipeline
Screenshot of the CI/CD-pipeline

The build stage

In the build stage, we build the Container using kaniko. Kaniko is a tool which allows to build a Container without the need of privileged mode. What I also like about kaniko is how it does caching to speed up building. I use the Container registry of GitLab, as it is easy to work with.

The build stage also has an install job. This job is responsible for installing the NodeJS packages and caching the node_modules folder.

install:
  stage: build
  image: node:14.9-alpine3.12
  script:
    - npm install
  cache:
    key:
      files:
        - package-lock.json
    paths:
      - node_modules/

build:
  image:
    name: gcr.io/kaniko-project/executor:debug
    entrypoint: [""]
  variables:
    DOCKER_IMAGE: $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
  script:
    - echo "{\"auths\":{\"$CI_REGISTRY\":{\"username\":\"$CI_REGISTRY_USER\",\"password\":\"$CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD\"}}}" > /kaniko/.docker/config.json
    - /kaniko/executor
        --context $CI_PROJECT_DIR
        --dockerfile $CI_PROJECT_DIR/Dockerfile
        --cache=true
        --cache-repo=$CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE/cache
        --destination $DOCKER_IMAGE
  stage: build

The test stage

The test stage consists of basic test and lint jobs. Both are reusing the cached node_modules folder of the install job.

lint:
  stage: test
  image: node:14.9-alpine3.12
  before_script:
    - npm install
  needs: ["install"]
  cache:
    key:
      files:
        - package-lock.json
    policy: pull
    paths:
      - node_modules/
  script:
    - npm run lint

test:
  stage: test
  image: node:14.9-alpine3.12
  before_script:
    - npm install
  needs: ["install"]
  cache:
    key:
      files:
        - package-lock.json
    policy: pull
    paths:
      - node_modules/
  script:
    - npm run test

The deploy stage

For Cloud Run, we need to push the Container to the GCP Container Registry before we can deploy it.

In the deploy job, we first need to authenticate for both Container registries. This means for GitLab Container Registry and GCP Container Registry.

docker login -u $CI_REGISTRY_USER -p $CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD $CI_REGISTRY
gcloud auth activate-service-account --key-file $GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS
gcloud config set project $GCP_PROJECT
gcloud auth configure-docker --quiet

Then we pull the image from the GitLab Container Registry and push it over to GCP.

docker image pull $DOCKER_IMAGE
export GCP_PROJECT_ID="$(gcloud config get-value project)"
export GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE="gcr.io/$GCP_PROJECT_ID/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG"
docker image tag $DOCKER_IMAGE $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE
docker image push $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE

And after that, we can deploy it to Cloud Run.

gcloud run deploy $GCP_SERVICE --image $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE --platform managed --region $GCP_REGION

I use GitLab to manage environments and deployments. For this we need to derive the environment URL.

echo "ENVIRONMENT_URL=$(gcloud run services list --platform managed --region $GCP_REGION | grep $GCP_SERVICE | awk '{print $4}')" >> deploy.env
deploy:staging:
  image: google/cloud-sdk:alpine
  stage: deploy
  services:
    - docker:19.03-dind
  before_script:
    - docker login -u $CI_REGISTRY_USER -p $CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD $CI_REGISTRY
    - gcloud auth activate-service-account --key-file $GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS
    - gcloud config set project $GCP_PROJECT
    - gcloud auth configure-docker --quiet
  script:
    - docker image pull $DOCKER_IMAGE
    - export GCP_PROJECT_ID="$(gcloud config get-value project)"
    - export GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE="gcr.io/$GCP_PROJECT_ID/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG"
    - docker image tag $DOCKER_IMAGE $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE
    - docker image push $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE
    - gcloud run deploy $GCP_SERVICE --image $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE --platform managed --region $GCP_REGION
    - echo "ENVIRONMENT_URL=$(gcloud run services list --platform managed --region $GCP_REGION | grep $GCP_SERVICE | awk '{print $4}')" >> deploy.env
  environment:
    name: staging
    url: $ENVIRONMENT_URL
  artifacts:
    reports:
      dotenv: deploy.env
  dependencies:
    - build
  variables:
    GIT_STRATEGY: none
    DOCKER_IMAGE: $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
    DOCKER_HOST: tcp://docker:2375
    GCP_PROJECT: my-staging-project
    GCP_REGION: europe-west1
    GCP_SERVICE: api-server
  only:
    - master

deploy:production:
  extends: deploy:staging
  environment:
    name: production
  variables:
    GCP_PROJECT: my-production-project
  when: manual

Summary & outlook

Deploying GCP Cloud Run is pretty straight-forward.

What I find quite tedious is that GCP needs one to provide the region of a service in each command or at all. It would be great, if the GCP CLI would derive the right region automatically.

I also did not find any way to pull an image and to push it to another Container Registry without privileged mode and Docker-in-Docker.

Looking forward: To enable Authentication and authorization, I’m considering to try GCP API Gateway.

Complete .gitlab-ci.yml for reference

stages:
  - build
  - test
  - deploy

install:
  stage: build
  image: node:14.9-alpine3.12
  script:
    - npm install
  cache:
    key:
      files:
        - package-lock.json
    paths:
      - node_modules/

build:
  image:
    name: gcr.io/kaniko-project/executor:debug
    entrypoint: [""]
  variables:
    DOCKER_IMAGE: $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
  script:
    - echo "{\"auths\":{\"$CI_REGISTRY\":{\"username\":\"$CI_REGISTRY_USER\",\"password\":\"$CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD\"}}}" > /kaniko/.docker/config.json
    - /kaniko/executor
        --context $CI_PROJECT_DIR
        --dockerfile $CI_PROJECT_DIR/Dockerfile
        --cache=true
        --cache-repo=$CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE/cache
        --destination $DOCKER_IMAGE
  stage: build

lint:
  stage: test
  image: node:14.9-alpine3.12
  before_script:
    - npm install
  needs: ["install"]
  cache:
    key:
      files:
        - package-lock.json
    policy: pull
    paths:
      - node_modules/
  script:
    - npm run lint

test:
  stage: test
  image: node:14.9-alpine3.12
  before_script:
    - npm install
  needs: ["install"]
  cache:
    key:
      files:
        - package-lock.json
    policy: pull
    paths:
      - node_modules/
  script:
    - npm run test

deploy:staging:
  image: google/cloud-sdk:alpine
  stage: deploy
  services:
    - docker:19.03-dind
  before_script:
    - docker login -u $CI_REGISTRY_USER -p $CI_REGISTRY_PASSWORD $CI_REGISTRY
    - gcloud auth activate-service-account --key-file $GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS
    - gcloud config set project $GCP_PROJECT
    - gcloud auth configure-docker --quiet
  script:
    - docker image pull $DOCKER_IMAGE
    - export GCP_PROJECT_ID="$(gcloud config get-value project)"
    - export GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE="gcr.io/$GCP_PROJECT_ID/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG"
    - docker image tag $DOCKER_IMAGE $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE
    - docker image push $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE
    - gcloud run deploy $GCP_SERVICE --image $GCP_DOCKER_IMAGE --platform managed --region $GCP_REGION
    - echo "ENVIRONMENT_URL=$(gcloud run services list --platform managed --region $GCP_REGION | grep $GCP_SERVICE | awk '{print $4}')" >> deploy.env
  environment:
    name: staging
    url: $ENVIRONMENT_URL
  artifacts:
    reports:
      dotenv: deploy.env
  dependencies:
    - build
  variables:
    GIT_STRATEGY: none
    DOCKER_IMAGE: $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE/$CI_COMMIT_REF_SLUG:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
    DOCKER_HOST: tcp://docker:2375
    GCP_PROJECT: my-staging-project
    GCP_REGION: europe-west1
    GCP_SERVICE: api-server
  only:
    - master

deploy:production:
  extends: deploy:staging
  environment:
    name: production
  variables:
    GCP_PROJECT: my-production-project
  when: manual