Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Integration

What Is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous delivery (CD) is an approach to software development where an automated pipeline builds and tests code changes, making sure they are always ready to deploy to production at the click of a button. 

Automation allows for fast and frequent releases, and enables teams to deliver value to customers more quickly and with less risk.

What Is Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration (CI) is an approach to software development where developers integrate frequent code changes into a central, shared repository, such as a version control system. Each integration is then automatically built and tested to detect integration errors as quickly as possible. 

The goal of CI is to catch and resolve conflicts and errors early in the development process, reducing the effort required to maintain code quality and ensuring that the codebase always remains in a releasable state.

What Are The Benefits of Continuous Integration?

There are several benefits of implementing continuous integration in software development, including:

  • Faster feedback: By automatically building and testing code changes as soon as they are committed, developers can quickly find and address any issues, which can save time and effort in the long run.
  • Increased quality: By catching and resolving conflicts and errors early in the development process, the overall codebase quality is improved, reducing the risk of bugs and issues in production.
  • Improved collaboration: By integrating code changes into a shared repository, developers can more easily collaborate and share their work with others, which can lead to better code and more efficient development.
  • Easier releases: By keeping the codebase in a releasable state, continuous integration makes it easier to deploy code changes to production, which can allow for faster, more frequent software releases.
  • Better traceability: CI provides better traceability and visibility to the development process, making it easier to understand what was done and when, making it easier to revert or debug if needed.

What Are The Benefits of Continuous Delivery?

The benefits of continuous delivery include:

  • Faster time to market: By automating the building, testing, and deployment processes, teams can deliver new features and updates to customers more quickly and with less risk.
  • Improved reliability: By automating code deployment, teams can ensure that all changes are deployed in a consistent and predictable way, which can reduce the risk of errors and downtime.
  • Increased agility: By making it easier to deploy code changes, teams can respond more quickly to customer feedback and market changes, which can give them a competitive advantage.
  • Greater control: Automating the deployment process gives teams greater control over the entire release process, from development to production, which can help them to better understand and manage the impact of code changes.
  • Increased collaboration: CD promotes cross-functional collaboration between teams such as development, operations, and testing. It helps to remove bottlenecks and silos, and promotes a culture of shared responsibility and ownership.
  • Cost savings: CD can help teams to reduce the costs associated with manual testing and deployment, which can help to improve overall efficiency and reduce the risk of errors.

Related content: Read our guide to continuous delivery examples (coming soon)

Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Integration: Differences and Similarities

While Continuous Delivery (CD) and Continuous Integration (CI) are closely related, they have different goals and objectives, and are implemented at different stages of the software development process.

Continuous Integration (CI) helps to catch and resolve conflicts early in the development process, allowing teams to identify and fix problems quickly. The goal of CI is to ensure that the codebase is always in a releasable state, so that new features can be deployed to production at any time. To achieve this, teams typically use automated testing and build tools to ensure that code changes do not break the application. This is typically done by running automated tests, such as unit tests and integration tests, whenever code is committed to the repository.

Continuous Delivery (CD), on the other hand, is the practice of ensuring that code changes can be safely and quickly deployed to production. This involves automating the entire deployment process, from building and testing the application to releasing it to users. CD allows teams to deploy new features, patches, and bug fixes to production as soon as they are ready, rather than waiting for scheduled release cycles. This is typically done by implementing a deployment pipeline, which is a series of automated steps that are executed whenever code changes are committed to the repository.

The key differences between CI and CD can be summarized as follows:

  • CI focuses on integrating code changes frequently, while CD focuses on automating the process of deploying those changes to production. 
  • CI aims to catch integration issues early, while CD aims to ensure that code changes can be deployed to production quickly and safely.
  • CI is a basic practice in any modern development process, and is also necessary to enable Continuous Delivery. CD is considered an advanced practice that builds on top of CI and improves agility and development velocity by fully automating the deployment process.

CI and CD also have much in common:

  • Both Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are important, commonly adopted practices in modern software development. 
  • They are both designed to improve the speed, quality, and reliability of software releases.
  • They are both implemented using automated tools. 
  • Together, they enable teams to deliver software faster and with less risk, which can lead to significant competitive advantages

Why You Need Continuous Integration to Do Continuous Delivery

CI is a prerequisite for CD because it provides the foundation for automated testing and deployment. In CI, code changes are integrated into a shared repository and automatically tested to catch and fix any issues as early as possible. This helps to ensure that the codebase is always in a stable state, and that the software is of high quality.

Continuous Delivery builds on the principles of CI by automating the process of preparing code changes for release to production. This includes additional testing and deployment steps to ensure that code is ready for release. By automating these processes, CD reduces the risk of errors and makes it easier to deliver new features and updates to customers quickly and with confidence.

Without CI, it would be more difficult and time-consuming to identify and fix issues in the code, making it less likely that the code would be in a releasable state. In addition, without automated testing, it would be more difficult to guarantee the quality of the code, making it harder to release new features and updates to customers with confidence.

Continuous Delivery with Codefresh

Delivering new software is the single most important function of businesses trying to compete today. Many companies get stuck with flaky scripting, manual interventions, complex processes, and large unreliable tool stacks across diverse infrastructure. Software teams are left scrambling to understand their software supply chain and discover the root cause of failures. It’s time for a new approach.

Codefresh helps you meet the continuous delivery challenge. The Codefresh platform is a complete software supply chain to build, test, deliver, and manage software with integrations so teams can pick best-of-breed tools to support that supply chain. 

Built on Argo, the world’s most popular and fastest-growing open source software delivery toolchain, Codefresh unlocks the full enterprise potential of Argo Workflows, Argo CD, Argo Events, and Argo Rollouts and provides a control-plane for managing them at scale.

Learn more about the Codefresh CI/CD platform.

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