CI/CD / Security / Software Development

CircleCI Offers a Private Option for ‘Orb’ Reusable Configuration Files

23 Feb 2021 10:04am, by

Two years ago, CircleCI launched orbs, YAML-based reusable configuration files, as a way to help developers automate repeated processes, speed up project setup and simplify CI/CD integration with third-party tools. CircleCI is now providing developers with the ability to create private orbs, allowing teams to share configuration exclusively within their organization, Jim Rose, CircleCI CEO told The New Stack.

“Private orbs provide developers with increased privacy, efficiency and collaboration across teams,” Rose told The New Stack. “This is especially useful for teams working in health care, finance and other industries with high governance and compliance standards.”

This aspect of orb privacy was also intended to help accommodate increasingly remote and distributed DevOps teams needing to collaborate and share resources privately. Specific additional security features the private orbs offer include environment variables, multiple contexts and admin controls.

“While thousands of developers to date have enjoyed their experience with our open source orbs, many of our customers at larger organizations have needed a way to standardize and share their orb instances privately,” Rose said. “These organizations typically have many repos they must manage individually, so being able to standardize configuration and to privately share this across projects will help these organizations to manage them more efficiently.

According to CircleCI statistics, over 2,000 orbs exist and almost 18 million orbs have been integrated into CI/CD pipelines.

The private orb alternative is also intended to help make DevOps teams more efficient “at a time when the number of microservices organizations are reusing is increasing steadily,” Rose said. “Rather than having to manually integrate each of those services every time they are needed, a private orb will consistently automate the process using the same template.”

With the search function for secondary indexes, developers typically use CircleCI to access all available CircleCI-, partner- and community-authored public orbs with the orb registry. Users can, in this way, utilize the search bar to name a particular orb they are looking for, such as Docker for deployments or Ruby for language-specific orbs, Rose explained. Alternatively, a developer can filter orbs by category, including code analysis, builds, artifacts and security orbs.

“Should a user want another method to search orbs, they can do so simply by listing all available orbs from CircleCI’s CLI tool, Rose said.

As with public orbs, private orbs, within an organization, can be searched via CircleCI’s command-line access, while Rose said a user interface (UI) and frontend component will be made available to developers “in the near future.”

“Private orbs will always remain visible only by the organization that had created and published them,” Rose said. “Users, in an organization with read or write permissions, will be able to see and manage private orbs if they are authenticated to do so.”

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners, an investor in the following companies mentioned in this article: Docker.