CI vs CD: Difference between Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery?
By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor - March 23, 2023
DevOps and Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) are indispensable for organisations seeking to increase innovation and generate transformational outcomes. Through automated development, testing, delivery, and deployment, these procedures enable developers to create high-quality software and apps on a continuous basis, resulting in enhanced cooperation and productivity.
CI/CD and DevOps, their differences and how they function together are frequently misunderstood. A fast Google search on “CI/CD vs. DevOps” returns dozens of posts on Quora, Stack Overflow, Reddit, and others, all requesting a clear response on the relationship, similarities, and differences between the two.
This article examines how each of these notions adds to an organisation’s goals of continual innovation and the key differences between them.
Pro Tip : To get the most out of a CI/CD strategy, consider integrating testing platforms such as BrowserStack Automate into the CI/CD pipeline of developers to help agile teams expand.
What is DevOps?
DevOps, which stands for development and operations, is a collaborative practice that aims to eliminate the divide between development and operations teams inside a business. When businesses use DevOps technologies and best practices, they receive a more streamlined, agile approach to software development, which enables their teams to automate processes and integrate new modifications and features more rapidly, hence accelerating delivery.
A DevOps example would be the rapid and efficient deployment of code on a cloud platform. It’s a continuous process; rather than one major upgrade every few months or years, smaller, incremental updates are released continuously. This helps developers to build, test, and deploy updates or releases without compromising the infrastructure’s stability.
Must Read: What is DevOps?(A Beginner’s Guide)
What is Continuous Integration (CI)
CI, as its name suggests, is a process that occurs prior to a build in which code is tested. It demands developers to regularly integrate or merge code into a shared repository. It often results in greater long-term cost savings, as it is more expensive to repair problems in high-level design uncovered later in the process. It is regarded as a superior method of developing software since it minimises the number of defects when features are merged and resolves the issue of “works on my machine.”
Must Read: Devops CI: Continuous Integration in DevOps
What is Continuous Delivery (CD)
CD, as its name implies, is a technique that leverages automation to expedite the delivery of new code. Teams build, test, and release software as quickly as feasible in short cycles. It generally assures that any modification made is releasable by automating the entire release process. One is capable of delivering to production. The most significant aspect is the thoroughness of checks.
Must Read: What is Continuous Delivery in Devops?
The Difference Between Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery
Since CI and CD often function in sync, it is easy to be confused as to the scope of their activities. The below diagram can help in obtaining a clear understanding of what this does.
Sometimes CD is also used to refer to Continuous Deployment. Continuous deployment is similar to continuous delivery with the exception that releases occur automatically.
Must Read: How to implement a CI/CD Pipeline?
While not the direct scope of this article, the difference between Continuous Integration and Deployment is shown as below.
The main points of difference between Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are tabulated as below:
|Continuous Integration||Continuous Delivery|
|It is the integration of code into the mainstream code base.||It is the process of testing, staging, and deploying code that occurs after code integration in order to deliver app updates to users.|
|It is specifically built to incorporate code changes into a shared repository on a regular basis.||It is specifically built to incorporate code changes into a shared repository on a regular basis.|
|Its primary objective is to offer timely feedback so that any flaw in the code base may be quickly discovered and fixed.||Its primary objective is to ensure that the code base is always deployable to the production environment.|
|It employs automation to quickly discover issues and validate the accuracy of new code prior to integration.|
It is crucial because it enables greater transparency and foresight in the software development and delivery process.
|Automation is used to expedite the release of new code.|
That is crucial because it makes our release processes as efficient and repeatable as feasible.
|It often decreases expenses, instils confidence, ensures a consistent construction process, mitigates hazards, improves team communication, etc.||It generally reduces risk, delivers software with fewer problems, responds rapidly to market conditions, and releases new products more regularly, among other benefits.|
|It offers additional benefits to developers because it enables code to be tested automatically and integrated continually with the code of other developers and the current code base.||As soon as code is accepted successfully in the CI stage and its logical functionality can be tested, it is made available to business users.|
|This procedure is less complicated and less expensive than CD.||This procedure is more complicated and expensive than CI.|
Pro Tip : Jenkins is a continuous integration platform that enables iterative code changes to undergo continuous testing, build, and deployment. CI/CD tools aid in detecting failures prior to the production phase and mitigating their occurrence. The BrowserStack Jenkins plugin facilitates the integration of BrowserStack Automate test results into Jenkins. The report provides an overview of the test build and its associated sessions.
To Sum Up
CI can be considered as the first stage in producing and delivering code, and CD as the second. CI focuses on preparing code for release (build/test), whereas CD involves the actual release of code (release/deploy).
If you’re just starting with a new project and there are no users yet, it may be simple to deploy every change to production. You might even begin by automating your deployments and launching your alpha version without any customers. Then, you can enhance your testing culture and ensure that code coverage increases as you develop your application. When you are ready to onboard users, you will have a fantastic continuous deployment process where all new modifications are tested prior to being automatically deployed into production.
But if you already have a customer-facing application, you should slow things down and implement continuous integration and delivery. Start by developing simple unit tests that run automatically; there is no need to focus on comprehensive end-to-end testing just yet. Instead, you should automate your deployments as soon as feasible and reach a point where staging environment deployments are performed automatically. The reason for this is because if you have automatic deployments, you can focus on enhancing your tests instead of regularly pausing work to arrange a release.
Regardless of the differences between CI and CD, the ultimate goal of DevOps is to develop quality software within tight deadlines.
BrowserStack offers various crucial tools for constructing a CI/CD and DevOps-powered testing pipeline. Initially, it offers access to a real device cloud with over 3000 real browsers and testing devices. Second, it provides a cloud-based Selenium grid with 99% availability, enabling test automation on real browsers and devices.
In addition, BrowserStack integrates with all major CI/CD tools, which simplifies testing procedures for QAs and developers.
DevOps and CI/CD are the most valuable and effective approaches to software development. When properly implemented, they contribute to the development of software that consistently meets (and surpasses) user expectations.
Follow-up Read: DevOps Testing Strategy