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CI/CD vs DevOps: Key Differences

Streamlining the application development process and ensuring quicker delivery of updates has become a priority for most organizations. CI/CD and DevOps have emerged as the two most important methodologies in modern software development that enable organizations to streamline the development process and promote better build quality. 

CI/CD is focused on speeding up the development and release cycle through continuous integration and rapid delivery of code changes. DevOps, on the other hand, focuses on the culture, practices, and processes that allow developers and IT operations teams to work together to speed up software development and deployment.

However, the CI/CD vs DevOps debate has been going on for years as they often go hand-in-hand in the final goal but with different methodologies. Today, we will take a look at a detailed comparison of CI/CD vs DevOps along with other details.

Understanding CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery)

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD is a popular concept in the modern application development realm that refers to the set of practices and tools that help development with quick and reliable code changes. 

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery can also be defined as a practice of automating the process of application development, testing, and deployment while maintaining build quality. It mostly emphasizes solving issues that exist on the SDLC and the use of different automation to improve the development and release cycle.

In CI/CD methodology, Continuous Integration (CI) refers to the engineering practices of frequently integrating new codes into the central part of a shared app code repository. The integration of codes happens daily and sometimes hourly. 

It generally leverages automated tools to minimize integration effort and execute rapid building and testing of modification. CI helps developers identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the development cycle before they become significant issues.

On the other hand, Continuous Delivery indicates the practice of automatically deploying the codes after they have gone through the testing phase. The code changes generally occur for adding new features, configuration modification, and bug fixes. 

This factor facilitates developers to quickly deliver updates and applications with high reliability. Developers leverage automated deployment tools to ensure automated and constant code changes.

Difference Between CI and CD: Continuous Integration vs Continuous Delivery

Both Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are correlated in software development lifecycles but with different purposes and scope. Continuous Integration is primarily focused on integrating code changes in high frequency and performing automated builds as well as testing.

Whereas continuous delivery is primarily focused on automating the process of deploying code changes to the production. The main focus is to make the codes available for deployment whenever needed.

In simple words, Continuous Integrations make sure all the new codes are regularly integrated and tested, whereas Continuous Developer ensures that the code changes can be deployed to the product quickly and reliably.

CI aims to integrate code at regular intervals and create a software-defined lifecycle to reduce integration efforts. CD aims to make code changes available for deployment and automate the software release process.

Benefits of CI/CD

Benefits of CI/CD

CI/CD offers a wide range of benefits to an organization, and it includes. 

Quick Software Release

CI/CD allows developers to automate the process of development, testing, and deployment process, thus enabling them to quickly release fixes and new features whenever needed. It allows developers to introduce fixes to end users without any risk. 

Better Collaboration and Communication

Through frequently integrating code changes to the repository, CI/CD enables developers to quickly identify bugs and issues and mitigate them in the early stage. Since developers are able to fix all the bugs before they are deployed in the production stage, it improves the overall collaboration and communication between teams. 

Prevent Costly Fixes

As CI/CD methodologies help developers identify issues and loopholes at the early stages of development, it saves the organization from costly fixes that would have occurred during the product stage. Moreover, fixing bugs and issues in production gets more complex, and both teams have to leverage a lot of resources to fix them. 

Improved Reliability and Quality

CI/CD, through automating the testing process and deploying code changes only after they pass the testing process, ensures the final code is accurate and reliable. Ultimately, this factor helps in improving the reliability and quality of the final application.

Understanding DevOps 

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a set of methodologies, practices, and cultural philosophy that emphasizes collaboration and communication between the developer and the IT operation team. The term was devised by Patrick Debois in 2009, and it refers to Development and Operation. 

DevOps, through its ideology, promotes a shared responsibility throughout the application development lifecycle where every team has to work together to enhance the software development and deployment speed and quality. 

A collaborative culture, ensures developers and testers are on the same page in every phase, and together, they can create stable software that has limited bugs and is less prone to crash. 

Besides, DevOps also brings automation in the development lifecycle, where it automates the testing, deployment, and monitoring processing to curb human errors and improve overall efficiency. 

However, the successful implementation of automation depends largely on the automation framework the DevOps team is using. DevOps also involves the use of containerization and configuration management by every team to manage the infrastructure. 

A crucial aspect of DevOps is continuous improvement, where DevOps teams use feedback and insight to improve and maintain the optimum performance of the application continuously. DevOps also emphasizes a lot on security and promotes that every team should share responsibility for security throughout the development life cycle.

Benefits of DevOps

Benefits of DevOps

Here are some of the significant benefits your organization can enjoy by integrating DevOps culture; 

Quick Delivery

One of the significant benefits organizations get through adopting DevOps is the quick delivery of applications, additional features, security updates, and bug fixes. 

Since the DevOps team can automate the development and deployment operation, it allows them to reduce the overall time and rapidly release applications. 

Continuous Improvement

DevOps teams always check feedback and metrics to maintain continuous monitoring and improvement of the software. They utilize different tools to prevent, fix bugs, and release updates that help in enhancing the overall performance. 

Better Flexibility and Scalability

DevOps embraces the use of new technology like cloud computing, containerizing, and artificial intelligence in development. These practices help the organization to scale its application according to the increase in traffic and adapt to business requirements. 

Better Quality

Continuous monitoring and testing in the development lifecycle also help organizations catch loopholes and bugs at the earliest and mitigate them quickly. This allows organizations to ensure high-quality software development and deployment with minimal issues. 

Comprehensive Security

DevOps ideology and practices promote that every team should be responsible for code security throughout the entire software development lifecycle. 

The team emphasizes implementing various security testing and uses tools for incident response plans to make sure there is no vulnerability in the application lifecycle. DevOps also goes for the DevSecOps approach, which allows teams to implement security measures in the development lifecycle seamlessly.

Key Differences Between CI/CD and DevOps

CI/CD and DevOps are related concepts, but they are quite different in various ways. Let’s take a look at the critical differences between CI/CD and DevOps.

   CI/CDDevOps
Primary AimThe main aim of CI/CD is to help developers with practices and tools to ensure frequent delivery of all the code changes and automate software development and testing.The primary purpose of DevOps is to create a collaborative culture between developers and the IT operations team. Through this collaborative approach, it aims to streamline application development.
Primary ScopeCI/CD promotes continuous integration and delivery of code changes through automation and helps the organization to frequently deliver software changes to production.The main scope of DevOps is to break the silos between developers and the operations team so that together they can effectively address production issues.
PurposeThe main purpose of CI/CD is to automate the delivery of code changes to a shared repository so that developers can automatically and accurately bring product updates and make bug fixes.The primary purpose of DevOps is to drive an efficient and streamlined software development cycle through common business goals amongst teams.
ProcessBy adopting CI/CD, developers can create a process of continuous integration of code changes, which is then tested through automation tools. Continuous deployment also enables developers to automate the deployment of code updates during testing and production stages. Due to automated testing and delivery, developers can quickly deploy applications, bug fixes, and updates with ease.DevOps promotes the implementation of automation at every phase of application development to streamline the development process. It also helps in implementing iterative development to speed the deployment process. The DevOps process includes continuous testing, feedback response, and monitoring to unite all the teams and drive development speed.
Tools UtilizedCI/CD pipeline tools that are primarily utilized are Travis CI, CircleCI, and Jenkins. They are used for implementation and streamlining the software release process.DevOps, on the other hand, leverages Ansible, Chef, and Puppet tools to facilitate faster and more reliable software releases.
Implementation ProcessImplementing CI/CD requires tools like CI/CD Jenkins, which is basically an open-source automation server. The implementation process is quite long, and your IT team has to properly configure them before implementation. When your team successfully implements Jenkins to create the CI/CD pipeline, you can integrate code repositories, test frameworks, and all the strategies into the pipeline.Implementation of DevOps is done through the implementation of DevOps principles and methodologies at every stage of development and deployment. A collaborative approach between developers and IT professionals also plays a crucial role. DevOps is properly implemented when everyone shares the same goal and automation is achieved at every stage.
Different Stages InvolvedA CI/CD pipeline comprises four primary stages, where the next starts only when the previous stage has been successfully completed. The four stages include source, building, testing, and deployment. The DevOps lifecycle only contains two primary stages: continuous integration and continuous development. Besides, DevOps also includes continuous testing, feedback, and monitoring. Continuous integration also involves many substages, including compilation, unit testing, integration testing, review of code, and packaging.
ExampleReactJS from Meta is a notable example of a CI/CD pipeline. It is a popular JavaScript framework that has numerous use cases.One of the most prominent examples of DevOps is Meta, and its developers have implemented DevOps practices in various stages.

How to Implement CI/CD Within a DevOps Culture?

The successful implementation of CI/CD within a DevOps culture can be done through four stages and these stages are:

Commit

Commit is the preliminary stage, where developers integrate new features and functionalities within the database. 

Build

In this stage, the main aim of the developer team is to put forward all the updates to the registry and then pass them to the testing phase.

Test

Once the developers have put forward all the new updates, all these updates are put to the test. Testing of the updates also evaluates the stability of the final product before it reaches the final stage. 

Production

In this last stage, all the new updates are deployed to the product.

FAQs 

Is CI/CD part of DevOps?

Yes, CI/CD is a part of DevOps tactics that utilize different methodologies and automation tools to support the central philosophy of DevOps. The main aim of CI/CD is to speed up the development process by following the DevOps culture. 

What are the two critical components of DevOps?

The two critical components of DevOps are continuous integration and continuous development. In continuous integration, the code changes are continuously integrated into the central repository, while in continuous development, the code changes are constantly delivered to users through testing and validation.

What is the CI/CD pipeline in DevOps?

The CI/CD pipeline in DevOps indicates the process of automating the development, testing, and deployment phase in an application development lifecycle. The main focus of the CI/CD pipeline is to speed up the development phase and ensure the software is released reliably. 

Is CI/CD and agile the same?

CI/CD and agile are not the same thing, but they complement each other in the application development phase. Agile through CI/CD helps the developer team to make necessary updates or changes to the application whenever needed. Agile provides iterative development, whereas CI/CD enables automated software delivery processes.

Conclusion

CI/CD and DevOps have many common goals when it comes to swift and reliable software development. However, many organizations get confused while implementing them. 

This article states the difference between CI/CD vs DevOps, which will help you to differentiate between the two and understand which will cater to your requirements. Along with the CI/CD vs DevOps comparison, we have also put forward many other details that will help you to make better judgments. 

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Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist, currently co-founds CloudDefense.AI, a cybersecurity solution with a mission to secure your business by rapidly identifying and removing critical risks in Applications and Infrastructure as Code. With a background in Amazon, Microsoft, and VMWare, they contributed to various software and security roles.
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