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Continuous Delivery vs Continuous Deployment: Core Differences

By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor -

While “Continuous Delivery” (CD) and “Continuous Deployment” (CD) are related concepts in the software development and DevOps domain, they are not synonymous and refer to different stages in the software release process.

Both Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment aim to increase the speed, frequency, and reliability of software releases, but they differ in the level of automation and control over the deployment process. The choice between the two approaches depends on the team’s needs, the nature of the software, and the organisation’s risk tolerance.

However, the main difference between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment lies in the final step of the deployment process. In Continuous Delivery, the deployment to production is a manual decision, while in Continuous Deployment, it is an automated process triggered as soon as the code changes pass the necessary tests.

What is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous Delivery (CD) in DevOps is a software development approach that focuses on automating and streamlining the process of delivering code changes to production and other environments with high frequency and reliability. The primary goal of Continuous Delivery is to enable software teams to release new features, bug fixes, and improvements in a rapid and consistent manner.

Continuous Delivery V4 1 e1678255386735Continuous Delivery in DevOps

Features of Continuous Delivery

Some key principles and characteristics of Continuous Delivery in DevOps include:

  1. Automated Build and Testing: CD emphasizes the automation of the entire build, test, and deployment process. Code changes are automatically compiled, built into executable artifacts, and subjected to a battery of automated tests to ensure quality and functionality.
  2. Deployment Pipelines: CD relies on deployment pipelines, which are a series of automated steps that code changes go through before reaching production. These pipelines involve various stages such as building, testing, and deploying to different environments (e.g., staging, pre-production) as part of the validation process.
  3. Version Control: CD leverages version control systems like Git to manage and track changes made to the codebase. This enables better collaboration, facilitates rollback if necessary, and ensures code integrity.
  4. Continuous Integration (CI): Continuous Integration is often an essential part of Continuous Delivery. In CI, developers frequently merge their code changes into a shared repository, triggering automated builds and tests to identify integration issues early on.
  5. Infrastructure as Code (IaC): CD encourages the use of Infrastructure as Code, where infrastructure configurations are defined and managed programmatically. This enables consistent and reproducible environments for testing and deployment.
  6. Monitoring and Feedback: CD promotes the continuous monitoring of applications in production to detect issues, track performance, and collect user feedback. Test Monitoring helps teams make data-driven decisions and quickly address any problems that arise.
  7. Continuous Improvement: CD is an iterative process that continuously seeks to improve the delivery process and remove bottlenecks. Teams frequently review their practices and make adjustments to enhance efficiency and reliability.

Benefits of Continuous Delivery

The benefits of Continuous Delivery in DevOps include faster time-to-market, reduced risk of releases, increased team collaboration, and improved software quality. It fosters a culture of automation, collaboration, and continuous learning, enabling organizations to respond quickly to customer needs and market demands.

What is Continuous Deployment?

Continuous Deployment (CD) is a software development and DevOps practice where every code change that passes automated tests and quality checks is automatically deployed to production without any manual intervention. In other words, when code changes are ready and meet the predetermined criteria, they are released to end-users or customers automatically and immediately.

Continuous delivery and deploymentContinuous Deployment in DevOps

Features of Continuous Deployment

The key features and principles of Continuous Deployment include:

  • Automation: Continuous Deployment heavily relies on automation throughout the software delivery process. Automated build, testing, and deployment pipelines are set up to ensure that code changes are reliably and consistently deployed.
  • Continuous Integration (CI): Continuous Deployment typically goes hand in hand with Continuous Integration. With CI, developers frequently integrate their code changes into a shared repository, triggering automated builds and tests. If the changes pass all tests, they can progress through the deployment pipeline.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): To achieve reliable and reproducible deployments, Continuous Deployment often utilizes Infrastructure as Code, where infrastructure configurations are defined and managed through code.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Continuous Deployment teams continuously monitor their applications in production to detect issues or anomalies as soon as they occur. Monitoring helps ensure that any potential problems are quickly addressed.
  • Rollback and Recovery: In Continuous Deployment, teams must have mechanisms in place to rollback a release if any issues are discovered after deployment. Additionally, they should have strategies for recovering from failures in case they occur.
  • Continuous Deployment is often associated with organizations that require rapid software releases and want to optimize their ability to deliver new features, enhancements, and bug fixes to users quickly. However, implementing Continuous Deployment requires a robust testing infrastructure and a high level of confidence in automated testing. Organizations must strike a balance between agility and maintaining a stable and reliable software environment. In some cases, organizations may choose to use Continuous Delivery instead of Continuous Deployment to have more control over when code changes are deployed to production.

Benefits of Continuous Deployment

Continuous Deployment offers numerous benefits for software development and deployment processes, leading to increased efficiency, faster time-to-market, and improved software quality. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Rapid Time-to-Market: Continuous Deployment allows new features, bug fixes, and improvements to be released to users quickly and continuously. This rapid deployment enables organisations to respond rapidly to market demands and stay ahead of competitors.
  2. Reduced Lead Time: Continuous Deployment minimises the lead time between the development of a feature and its availability to end-users. This faster turnaround time enhances customer satisfaction and provides immediate value.
  3. Automated and Reliable Process: The entire deployment process, including build, testing, and release, is automated, which reduces the likelihood of human errors and ensures a more consistent and reliable delivery mechanism.

Difference between Continuous Delivery vs Continuous Deployment

The main differences between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment can be tabulated as below :

Continuous DeliveryContinuous Deployment
1. Continuous Delivery allows the automation of, through testing tools, of several facets of the approval process, e.g security, functionality, usability, etc.1. Continuous Deployment requires these steps to be manually checked before release.
2. Continuous delivery enables you to automate a significant portion of your software approval process through continuous delivery. And continuous deployment permits a development team to more frequently release updates and modifications. You can configure your application’s release frequency (monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly) as you see fit.2. In Continuous Deployment, the release frequency is determined in a manual manner by the team.
3. Continuous delivery divides your code into smaller chunks and tests them more frequently, which makes it simpler to detect and resolve errors. The result is quicker error detection. Consequently, their impact will be less than if they were not detected until the final phases before launch. This reduces the possibility of an error and improves product quality. 3. Continuous Deployment can still be used to detect and resolve errors quickly, but with the final approval and check being manual it is prone to human error.

What is the difference between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment in Azure?

Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment are both DevOps practices that aim to streamline the software development and deployment process, but they differ in their level of automation and finality.

1. Continuous Delivery (CD) in Azure:

Continuous Delivery is a software development practice where code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for deployment to a staging or production environment. The key characteristic of CD is that it allows teams to have a reliable and repeatable process to release software updates frequently but doesn’t automatically push those changes into the production environment.

In Azure, Continuous Delivery typically involves the following steps:

  • Code changes are committed to version control (e.g., Git repository).
  • A build process is triggered automatically, generating a build artefact.
  • Automated tests are performed on the build artefact to ensure its quality and functionality.
  • The artefact is then deployed to a staging environment, where further testing and validation occur.
  • Once the staging environment is thoroughly tested and approved, the deployment to the production environment can be initiated manually or through an approval process.

Continuous Delivery ensures that the codebase is always in a deployable state, allowing teams to have the option of deploying updates to production at any time based on business needs or team decisions.

2. Continuous Deployment in Azure:

Continuous Deployment is an extension of Continuous Delivery, where code changes that pass all the automated tests and validations in the staging environment are automatically deployed to the production environment without manual intervention. This means that every successful change that passes through the Continuous Integration and testing stages is automatically pushed into production, without requiring explicit human approval.

In Azure, Continuous Deployment involves the same steps as Continuous Delivery, but the critical distinction is the fully automated promotion of changes from staging to production. This level of automation enables a faster and more efficient release process, reducing manual intervention and the potential for human error in deployments.

It’s essential to carefully consider the implications of Continuous Deployment, as it may have a direct impact on production systems and customer experience. Implementing proper testing and validation mechanisms in the deployment pipeline is crucial to ensure that only high-quality changes are automatically deployed to production.

In summary, the main difference between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment in Azure lies in the level of automation and manual intervention for promoting code changes to production. Continuous Delivery allows for manual control over when changes are deployed, while Continuous Deployment automatically deploys successful changes to production.

Continuous Delivery vs Continuous Deployment: When to use which

The decision to use Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment depends on several factors, including the organisation’s requirements, risk tolerance, team maturity, and the nature of the software being developed. Let’s explore when each approach is most suitable:

Continuous Delivery:

It is better to use Continuous Delivery when:

  • There is a need for frequent releases: If your organisation wants to release software changes to production frequently but prefers to have human intervention to control when those changes are deployed, Continuous Delivery is a good fit.
  • High regulatory or compliance requirements: In industries with strict regulatory or compliance standards, Continuous Delivery allows for thorough testing and review before releasing to production, giving stakeholders confidence in the process.
  • Manual approval is preferred: If the organisation prefers to have a manual approval step before deploying changes to production, Continuous Delivery provides the flexibility to control the release timing.
  • Limited automation maturity: If the team is still transitioning to an automated deployment process, starting with Continuous Delivery can be a stepping stone before fully adopting Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Deployment:

It is better to use Continuous Deployment when:

  • Rapid and frequent releases are crucial: In fast-paced industries or markets where continuous updates are essential to stay competitive and respond to customer needs quickly, Continuous Deployment is an ideal choice.
  • High confidence in automated testing: Continuous Deployment requires a high level of trust in automated testing to ensure that code changes will not introduce critical issues in production.
  • Streamlining deployment process: If the organisation wants to minimise manual intervention and reduce the potential for human errors during deployment, Continuous Deployment automates the entire process.
  • Continuous feedback loop: If the organisation aims to gather continuous feedback from users and iterate rapidly based on that feedback, Continuous Deployment allows for faster turnaround of feature updates and bug fixes.
  • Agile and DevOps maturity: Continuous Deployment is a natural progression for organisations that have already embraced agile development practices and have a mature DevOps culture.

Ultimately, the decision between Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment will depend on the organisation’s specific goals, its existing development and deployment processes, and its readiness for a higher level of automation and continuous release. It’s also possible for an organisation to start with Continuous Delivery and gradually move towards Continuous Deployment as their automation and testing practices mature.


Continuous Delivery in DevOps is used to automate and standardise the testing process for applications to ensure that they are ready to meet the requirements of real-world users. In addition to numerous other advantages for developers and their clients, this technique identifies errors more quickly, enhances product quality, and reduces development costs.

For optimal results, however, all tests, including unit tests, must be conducted on actual devices. Testing is only 100 percent effective when conducted under real user conditions. Emulators/Simulators and Virtual Machines are incapable of accurately simulating the precise conditions under which devices operate; consequently, their results do not instil sufficient confidence to release the code into production.

Real device testing is essential for both manual and automated Selenium testing in order to obtain reliable results. In order to avoid the prohibitive costs of establishing an in-house lab, businesses favour cloud-based testing infrastructure like Browserstack.

Try BrowserStack Now

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