Docker and DevOps: How Docker Integrates with CI/CD Pipelines

Docker and DevOps are pivotal in modern development workflows. In this beginner-friendly tutorial, I will guide you through the integration of Docker with Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, explaining each concept in detail for a better understanding.

To learn more about Docker, please check out my other Docker Tutorials for Beginners.


Before we start, please ensure that you have the following:

  1. Basic command line skills.
  2. Basic understanding of DevOps, CI/CD pipelines, and version control systems like Git.
  3. Familiarity with Docker and Docker commands. If you’re new to Docker, please check out these two tutorials to get started: Introduction to Docker and Managing Docker Containers.

Introduction to CI/CD pipelines

In the world of software development, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) are practices designed to improve code quality and facilitate rapid, reliable delivery of software.

Continuous Integration (CI)

Continuous Integration is the practice of regularly merging all developers’ working copies to a shared mainline. This means that when a developer makes changes to an application’s code, those changes are integrated into the repository multiple times per day. This is often accompanied by automated unit tests to catch bugs or issues early.

Continuous Deployment (CD)

Continuous Deployment takes the changes that pass the testing phase of CI and automatically deploys them into the production environment. This means that code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for release to production so that a working version of your application is always ready for deployment.

CI/CD pipelines reduce the time between writing a line of code and that code being in production. They also reduce the risk of introducing errors in production by automating previously manual steps.

How Docker integrates with CI/CD pipelines

Docker plays a crucial role in CI/CD pipelines by ensuring consistency across different stages of the pipeline. Let’s break down how Docker integrates with each stage of a CI/CD pipeline:

  1. Local development: Developers use Docker to create containers that mirror the production environment on their local machines. This reduces the chances of encountering the “it works on my machine” problem. Docker allows them to debug their application in an environment similar to the one in which it will ultimately run.
  2. Continuous Integration: When code is pushed to the repository, the CI server pulls the latest code and runs a series of tests inside a Docker container. This ensures that tests are run in the exact same environment where the application will be deployed.
  3. Continuous Deployment: If all tests pass, the CI server pushes the Docker image used for testing to a Docker registry. The CD server then pulls this image from the registry and deploys it to the production servers.

In summary, Docker ensures that the application runs in the same environment during development, testing, and production. This eliminates environment-specific bugs and speeds up the development cycle.

Now, let’s look at a practical example of how to integrate Docker with a CI/CD pipeline.

Setting up a CI/CD Pipeline with Docker and Jenkins

We’ll be using Jenkins, an open-source automation server, to set up our CI/CD pipeline. Jenkins supports version control tools like Git and has numerous plugins for integrating various DevOps tools.

  1. Install Jenkins: Follow the instructions from the Jenkins official website here to install Jenkins on your machine.
  2. Create a Jenkinsfile: A Jenkinsfile is a text file that contains the definition of a Jenkins Pipeline. It’s checked into source control, allowing you to code your pipeline. Here’s an example of a Jenkinsfile that builds a Docker image and pushes it to Docker Hub:
    pipeline {
        agent any
        stages {
            stage('Build') {
                steps {
                    script {
                        dockerImage ="my-image:${env.BUILD_ID}")
            stage('Publish') {
                steps {
                    script {
                        docker.withRegistry('', 'docker-hub-credentials') {

In this file, my-image:${env.BUILD_ID} is the Docker image name, and docker-hub-credentials is the Jenkins credentials ID for Docker Hub.

  1. Create a new Jenkins job: Go to Jenkins dashboard and create a new job. Select the ‘Pipeline’ option, give your pipeline a name, and click ‘OK’.
  2. Configure the pipeline: In the pipeline configuration page, under the Pipeline section, choose ‘Pipeline script from SCM’ in the Definition dropdown. Choose Git in the SCM dropdown and provide the Repository URL where your code resides. In the Script Path field, provide the path to your Jenkinsfile.
  3. Run the pipeline: Save your changes and click ‘Build Now’ to run your pipeline.

And that’s it! You’ve successfully integrated Docker into a CI/CD pipeline. Your application is now built and deployed in a consistent, repeatable manner, greatly reducing the chances of encountering environment-specific bugs.

Remember, the steps above can vary depending on your specific use-case and infrastructure, but the principles remain the same. Docker ensures consistent environments across your pipeline, reducing bugs and speeding up deployments.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful! Keep exploring and happy learning!