Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Deployment

Advantages, Drawbacks, and Tools for Continuous Deployment

Key Takeaways

  • Continuous Delivery focuses on automating the steps for deploying a build for safer releases.

  • Continuous Deployment builds on established practices of Continuous Delivery. To distinguish between the two, it’s important to know the difference between the “delivery” and “deployment” phases of a software development life cycle.

The world of DevOps uses a lot of industry terms. You might be getting lost in all the terminology, especially because so much of the vocabulary around DevOps includes the word “Continuous”. 

Your first thought might be:

But, we’re here to go over a few of the highlights behind a Continuous approach to DevOps: why it’s important and how two of the common terms you’ll see -Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment- actually have different meanings. 

The Importance of CICD

Establishing a CI/CD pipeline is a key supporting practice to DevOps methodology. It’s a method to frequently deliver apps to customers through ongoing automation and continuous monitoring throughout the lifecycle. A CI/CD pipeline relies on deployment automation to run, which moves software builds between various environments and regularly keeps repositories updated with the developers’ real-time changes. 

The first component, “CI”, stands for Continuous Integration, which is the process of software automated code changes through regular building, testing, and merging branches into a shared repository. “CD”, on the other hand, often stands for either Continuous Delivery, but is sometimes replaced with Continuous Deployment.

What is the difference between Continuous Delivery vs Continuous Deployment?

At first glance, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment may seem like interchangeable terms. While they play a similar role in the CI/CD pipeline, the different terms denote just how much automation is taking place during the second half of the pipeline. 

Continuous Delivery automates software delivery pipeline functions: Bug testing the build and uploading the build to a repository. Continuous Delivery focuses on automating the steps for deploying a build for safer releases. Some teams also take their pipeline automation a step further with Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Deployment builds on established practices of Continuous Delivery. To distinguish between the two, it’s important to know the difference between the “delivery” and “deployment” phases of a software development life cycle.

“Think about receiving a package from your favorite online retail store. When waiting for a package to arrive you coordinate with a delivery service. This is the delivery phase. Once the package has successfully arrived, you open the package and review its contents to make sure it matches expectations. If it does not, it may be rejected and returned. If the package is correct you are ready to deploy and use the new purchase!” - Atlassian

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If we think of delivery and deployment as two separate steps in releasing software, it stands to reason that Continuous Delivery means the delivery of code to environments is automated while Continuous Deployment is automating the deployment to production. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Continuous Deployment

Continuous Deployment focuses on a complete end-to-end automated approach. Continuous Deployment speeds up the entire software development lifecycle, delivering software faster and rapidly providing new features. When a new feature or product concept comes from customer feedback or team ideas, it can be in the hands of the customers faster with a consistent automated deployment pipeline.

However, Continuous Deployment also requires a high initial investment, along with ongoing maintenance. Your team’s testing practices also need to be at their best, otherwise the whole process could push out faulty features and end up harming your process rather than helping.

Related Article: Guide to Faster Software Testing Cycles

Continuous Deployment Tools

Successful Continuous Deployment practices require tools in three categories: Test Automation, Application Release Orchestration, and Application Performance Monitoring.

1. Test Automation Tools

  • Launchable - Intelligence platform layer for all software testing that reduces testing cycles with machine learning Predictive Test Selection, identifying the right tests to run. Run a fraction of your test suite while still maintaining high confidence.

  • Accelq- AI powered codeless test automation and test management platform

  • Katalon- All-in-one test automation solution used by over 100,000 companies

  • Neotys Neoload- Continuous performance testing software to automate API and application load testing

  • Tricentis Tosca- Intelligent test automation that optimizes and accelerates end-to-end testing of your entire digital landscape 

2. Application Release Orchestration (ARO) Tools

  • GitLab- Complete DevOps tool, with the ability to facilitate continuous integration, Continuous Deployment, and continuous testing. (so it fits in the previous category too!)

  • RedHat Ansible- Foundation for building and operating automation across an organization

  • Octopus Deploy- Single place for your team to manage releases, automate deployments, and automate the runbooks that keep your software operating.

  • JFrog- Cloud-native CI/CD tool for powering your DevOps pipeline with CI/CD automation from code to production

  • Sleuth- Deployment-based metrics tracking used by developers to get a complete view of current and upcoming deploys, and the impact of deployed releases - so they can understand what's shipped, shipping, and needs fixing.

3. Application Performance Monitoring (APM) Tools

  • Dynatrace- Platform seeking to simplify cloud complexity with Software Intelligence — observability, automation, AI, and cloud-native application security in one.

  • New Relic One- Leading observability platform where Dev and Ops teams come together to solve problems with data

  • Cisco AppDynamics- Solution to transform your applications and business with AppDynamics real-time performance monitoring

  • Datadog- Cloud monitoring as a service to see inside any stack, any app, at any scale, anywhere

Our team at Launchable seeks to make your Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment testing processes run smoothly by eliminating your testing bottlenecks with smarter testing automation.

Whether you’re working on implementing best practices for Continuous Delivery or thinking of evolving your program by adding Continuous Deployment to your CI/CD pipeline, we’re ready to help you and your business. 

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