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Continuous Integration vs. Continuous Delivery

Having the right type of software can make a huge difference in any business. Most good software will have occasional changes as the developers tweak it to better suit the needs of the business. Continuous integration and continuous delivery are two incredibly common procedures used in software development, but they are frequently misunderstood. Here is what you need to know about the difference between continuous integration and delivery.

What Is Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration is all about how a developer will handle alterations to their software. It refers to the process of frequently merging new changes back into the main branch of software. When a software development company uses continuous integration, they tend to send changes to a central repository multiple timers per day.
Every time the changes are merged, an automatic testing sequence is done. This means that every alteration is tested almost as soon as it is ready. Continuous integration can involve a blend of both automated and manual processes. Depending on a business’ preferences, they can have a platform to handle all the integration for them or get developers to do it individually.

What is Continuous Delivery?

Continuous delivery is often viewed as the next stage after continuous integration. It involves additional automation. Every continuous delivery process will involve continuous integration, but it will also go ahead and automate part of the release process. After a change is merged into the main build, continuous delivery will go ahead and prepare and track your release for production. Once you have continuous delivery in place, a software developer can deploy the changes to their clients at any time by simply clicking a button.

The Difference Between Continuous Integration and Delivery

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between these two software development concepts. Both involve the same step of sending software changes to a central repository frequently. However, the processes diverge after that. Instead of just moving on to new changes after integration into the main build, continuous delivery will involve building executables and working in a production like environment. Unlike continuous integration, continuous delivery produces a product that is ready to go at any moment.

The Uses of Continuous Delivery and Integration

Due to their differences, continuous integration and delivery have their own unique uses. The main function of continuous integration is for testing. It allows developers to detect any integration bugs as soon as possible, so major issues do not pop up on the release date. This makes it easy to identify which new build is causing the error, so they do not have to spend a lot of time testing later on. Developers can also check how their code push is affecting other parts of the software, allowing for rigorous quality assurance.
Continuous delivery provides most of the uses of continuous integration, but it is less about testing and more about product readiness and convenience. With continuous delivery, you can deploy any version of your software with the push of a button. This makes it easy to track progress across multiple departments. Smaller changes can be deployed frequently, so you do not have the risk of a large deployment where a lot of things can go wrong.

Which One is Right for You?

Deciding on the right choice will depend on your business needs. If you just want to keep your main branch from breaking in a way that gets the whole development team stuck for hours, continuous integration may be best. Since the priority is not on having all your tests work and an entirely deployable main branch, it saves a little time for your team.
Continuous integration allows for plenty of innovation and development while also protecting the integrity of the main branch. If your focus is more on the ability to deploy at any time, continuous delivery may be right for you. It is an ideal choice in environments that prioritize frequent, definable results. If you want to regularly deploy software to customers, continuous delivery may be a good place to start.
Ultimately, both continuous integration and continuous delivery can be a valuable tool for a modern software development company. Using these practices in your business can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of bugs.

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