Continuous Delivery, Deployment, and Integration: What's the difference?

April 17, 2019

As is true with any trend, certain words are repeated so often that they become “buzzwords.” If you take a look at the rise of DevOps, there a few words related to speed, efficiency, and accuracy that have gotten the buzzword treatment. 

One word in particular that comes up a lot when speaking about DevOps is, continuous. Here at Probo, we use the word to talk about continuous collaboration, or how Probo breaks down development silos by allowing technical and non-technical teams to work together collaboratively

You may have heard the word continuous used in conjunction with words like delivery, deployment, and integration. But what exactly do these phrases mean? And what kind of DevOps methodologies do they relate to? 

Continuous Integration

Continuous integration (CI) helps to keep the main code branch bug free by allowing multiple developers to work simultaneously on the same project by isolating their individual work in feature branches. It’s a preferred way of working because it utilizes the shift-left testing methodology where testing occurs earlier and more often in the development cycle. 

When a commit is made, an automated build and testing process is triggered. This ensures that bugs are caught earlier which prevents development teams from wasting additional time and money on fixes further along in the process. 

Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery (CD) is a development approach where teams develop, build, test, and release software in short sprints with the main goal being that all code is in a constant deployable state.

CD expands beyond CI because it allows developers to automate beyond unit tests. When implemented correctly, development teams will have deploy-ready features that have been verified and checked across multiple standardization tests. 

Although most of this process is automated, CD doesn’t automatically deploy features. Instead, it relies on a team of human developers to make the decision to push features into production.  

Continuous Deployment

When it comes to continuous deployment, the entire software release process is automated. With each change that is made, an automated workflow begins to build, test, and stage the update. This means that is in a constant state of deployment. With the proper automated testing, teams can automatically push several (ten, twenty, two-hundred!) releases into production a day. 

This method of software development also allows the actual user to act as the tester and provide feedback. A simplified example of this would be when companies allow certain users to test the beta version of a product. Continuous deployment allows developers to build, test, and stage at scale while also using real user feedback to plan updates and get the finished product to the end user much faster. 

Although each of these approaches to software development differs slightly from one another, they all play a big part in DevOps implementation and focus on helping teams develop as efficiently and accurately as possible. 

Check out our other blog posts for more information about each of these software development methodologies, as well as the tools that will help you leverage each of them.