What is CI/CD? Continuous integration and continuous delivery explained

Continuous integration and continuous delivery are the most common terms used when we talk about software production. As an assembly line in a factory delivers goods from raw material in a fast, automated, and reproducible manner. The same software delivery is a process that produces new releases from source code in fast, automated, and reproducible manners. The complete design of how it is completed is called “continuous delivery”. The process of kicking of assembly lines is called “continuous integration”.

What is meant by “continuous”?

Continuous is used to describe many different terms that are described here. Continuous means “always running” or “ready to run”. In the context of the software industry, it includes many core concepts and best practices. These core concepts are;

Frequent release

The goal behind continuous is to deliver quality software at frequent intervals. Here frequency is a variable and defined by a team or company. Continuous can also be used at “occasional, or as needed” manners. The end goal of all aspects is the same that deliver high-quality software to end-users in a repeatable and reliable process. This can be done with little to no interaction or knowledge of end-users.

Automated processes

The main focus behind enabling this frequency is to automate the processes to handle all aspects of software productions. These processes include building, testing, analysis, versioning, and in some cases deployment.

Fast processing

Regardless of the frequency of software updates and releases, continuous processes are also expected to make changes from source code to delivery in an efficient manner. Automation can take of this but automated processes are still low.

What is continuous integration?

In continuous integration, developers merge their changes back into the main part whenever possible. The validation is performed in developers’ changes by creating a build and running automated tests against that build. If you are doing this, you are safe from integration hell that mostly happens when the developers wait for their release to merge their changes in the newly released branch.

The main focus of continuous integration is to focus on testing automation to make sure that the application does not break down when the new commits are integrated into the main part of a system.

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What is continuous delivery?

Continuous delivery work as an extension with continuous integration to make sure that every new release is sustainably reaching towards customers. This means when you perform automated testing, you also automate your release process and you can deploy your application at any time by a single click on a button.

With continuous delivery, the developers need to decide to release daily, weekly, or whenever it suits your business requirements. If you truly want to take advantage of continuous delivery then you need to deploy as soon as possible. The reason behind this that you release in small batches that are easy to troubleshoot in case of any problem.

How these terms are related to each other?

From the above discussion, it can be concluded that continuous integration is part of both continuous delivery and continuous deployment. And the continuous deployment is the same as continuous delivery except that the release happens automatically after every change.

This article was written in collaboration with experts from the Buddy


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