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Learn the difference between CI/CD and DevOps

Posted by RevDeBug

There have been numerous practices, methodologies, and processes aiming to help developers and companies to deliver great software, and build systems that scale and last.

The world has graduated from deploying meaningful changes a few times per year to making adjustments on the fly an hour after changes were requested. Automation has led the way into processes that don’t require months of planning and testing.

DevOps term was coined by Patrick Debios in 2009 and became a common buzzword in software development. In 2021 still, when we talk to people we see that they often confuse CI/CD and DevOps. Of course, they are aligned but we need to understand that there is a subtle difference between the two terms. 

What is DevOps?

Patrick Debois defined DevOps as a movement of people who think it’s time for a change in the IT industry. It’s a culture combining practices, ideas, tools, technologies, and processes that streamline the product development process. It’s a methodology that helps organizations build software and enables continuous rapid deployment.    

DevOps introduces a cultural shift, focusing on collaboration, communication, and integration that helps teams deliver high-quality products. It buries siloes that were created between the development and operations team in delivering and maintaining software. Streamlined, agile, and efficient processes, code ownership, automation, incremental changes, and continuous improvement are just some of the DevOps practices required to manage a large number of servers and push multiple code updates daily.

What is CI/CD?

On the other hand, CI/CD refers to operation principles and practices that help development teams automate pushing code changes in predictable and reliable processes. It requires application life cycle monitoring at each stage of the process from code changes and testing to delivery and deployment. 

What is CI/CD Pipeline? 

CI/CD pipeline’s implementation of those practices that the DevOps team should use daily. Implementing it helps identify and eliminate bottlenecks and issues in the software development and delivery life cycle. 

CI(Continuous Integration)

CI (Continuous Integration) is part of the development process. It’s responsible for automatically integrating, testing building code changes made by developers. To work correctly it requires setting up the correct flow and setting shared source code repository (e.g. Gitlab, Github). 

Each code change pushed to the repository is automatically built and tested providing feedback to the developer when something is wrong. It helps to ensure that a change from one developer works correctly and doesn’t downgrade the quality of the app. 

The most important thing is to divide changes into small pieces so they could be pushed a few times a day to the repository.

What is CD (Continuous Delivery)

CD (Continuous Delivery) it’s also a set of processes extending continuous integration which aim to continuously release the next software version and implement changes/fixes based on received feedback. 

It connects continuous integration, testing, and human input to verify the quality of delivered software. Continuous delivery requires setting up additional environments where code changes could be verified manually before releasing to the production environment:

  • A Staging environment is set up for QA teams to verify changes before pushing them to production and also focus on testing deployment, infrastructure, and configuration changes. It’s often set up with data from production snapshots. 
  • A UAT environment is set up for “User Acceptance Testing “ of new functionalities where end users can try out new features and evaluate the software before it is deployed to their production. 

Depending on the adopted practices and scale of your systems those environments could be merged into one or have additional requirements like availability so it could vary between organizations a lot. 

What is CD (Continuous Deployment)

Continuous Deployment automates the manual part of Continuous Delivery - it passes all changes made by software teams through the CI/CD pipeline, where software is pushed automatically to production for release after passing tests on all stages of the pipeline. 

Achieving true Continuous Deployment requires incorporating high-quality software test suites and allows development teams for multiple deployments every day even in complex systems.     

Wrap Up - CI/CD vs DevOps

CI/CD and DevOps look at first sight very similar, their purpose is to make the software development process quicker and more efficient. DevOps is a culture with a set of practices that help in delivering high-quality software. CI/CD describes a set of activities in the software delivery process - from pushing code to final deployment. Continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment differ in the number of activities in the pipeline we automated.