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Continuous Delivery vs. Continuous Deployment in 2024

Continuous delivery (CD) and continuous deployment are two terms often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two distinct practices in software development. 

While both practices aim to increase the speed and efficiency of software development, they have different benefits and trade-offs. This article will explore 

  • the differences between continuous delivery and deployment, 
  • their benefits and drawbacks, 
  • how to choose the right approach for your organization’s needs.

What is the importance of continuous delivery and deployment?

Continuous delivery and deployment are important practices in software development as they enable teams to release new features and updates more frequently with higher quality, reducing the time to market and the risk of downtime. 

These practices increase efficiency, agility, and team collaboration, allowing organizations to stay competitive and respond quickly to market and customer needs changes. Overall, continuous delivery and deployment help teams deliver better software faster, allowing organizations to stay ahead of the competition.

Continuous delivery vs. continuous deployment: what is the difference?

Continuous delivery and continuous deployment are two related but distinct practices in software development. See Figure 1 below to see how they are related.

Source: Atlassian1

Figure 1: How the practices relate to each other

Continuous delivery is the process of automatically building, testing, and deploying software changes to a staging environment, where they can be evaluated before being released to production. In this approach, the final decision to release changes to production is made by a human operator (See Figure 2.)

Source: Medium2

Figure 2: Continuous Delivery

Continuous deployment, on the other hand, takes automation one step further by automatically releasing those changes to production as soon as they pass the testing phase without requiring human intervention(See Figure 3.)

Source: Gitlab3

Figure 3: CI/CD Concepts

What are the benefits of continuous delivery and deployment?

While both practices aim to increase the speed and efficiency of software development, they have different benefits and trade-offs:

Continuous delivery provides a rigorous testing process that catches bugs and issues early in the development cycle, reducing the risk of downtime and ensuring a better user experience. Continuous deployment offers faster release cycles and reduced human error but requires high confidence in the automated testing and deployment processes.

Benefits of continuous delivery

Additionally, continuous delivery brings the following:

  1. Early detection of bugs: Since automated tests catch regressions early, fewer problems are released into production.
  2. Streamlining release process: Building the release is simple due to the early resolution of all integration concerns.
  3. Reduced moving between tasks: Developers are informed as soon as they break a build and may repair it before switching to another activity.
  4. Reduced testing cost: The testing cost is dramatically lowered since your CI server can quickly perform hundreds of tests.

Benefits of continuous deployment 

Additionally, continuous deployment brings the following:

  1. Reduced release interruption: Since every modification automatically starts a deployment workflow, there is less release interruption, so you may create software more quickly. 
  2. Reduced risk of issues: As you deploy small batches of updates, releases are less risky and simpler to resolve in case of an issue.
  3. Continuous advancement: Instead of once per month, quarter, or year, customers notice a steady stream of advancements, and quality rises every day.

Continuous delivery and deployment are used in various fields. For example, CI/CD pipelines are essential for test automation tools integration. Testifi’s CAST is an example of a test automation tool allowing easy integration into CI/CD pipelines. 

What are the challenges of continuous delivery and deployment?

Continuous delivery and deployment are powerful software development practices that help teams deliver high-quality software more rapidly and reliably. However, teams face several challenges when implementing these practices, including

  1. Culture and organizational change: Continuous delivery and deployment require a shift in organizational culture and mindset. Teams must be willing to embrace agile and DevOps methodologies and adopt a culture of continuous improvement and experimentation.
  2. High automation: Continuous delivery and deployment require a high degree of automation to ensure that software is built, tested, and deployed reliably and consistently. This can be a challenge for teams that are used to manual processes or that lack the technical expertise to implement automation tools.
  3. Complete testing: Continuous delivery and deployment require a robust testing strategy that covers all aspects of the software, including functionality, performance, and security. Teams must be able to automate their testing processes and ensure they are testing the right things at the right time.
  4. Infrastructure: Continuous delivery and deployment require a stable and scalable infrastructure to support new code’s rapid and frequent deployment. This can be a challenge for teams that are used to working with traditional on-premises infrastructure or that lack the expertise to manage cloud-based environments.
  5. Security: Continuous delivery and deployment require a strong focus on security to ensure the software is deployed safely and securely. Teams must be able to implement security measures throughout the development and deployment lifecycle, including vulnerability scanning, code analysis, and penetration testing.

If you have further questions about continuous delivery and deployment, reach us

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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Altay Ataman
Altay is an industry analyst at AIMultiple. He has background in international political economy, multilateral organizations, development cooperation, global politics, and data analysis. He has experience working at private and government institutions. Altay discovered his interest for emerging tech after seeing its wide use of area in several sectors and acknowledging its importance for the future. He received his bachelor's degree in Political Science and Public Administration from Bilkent University and he received his master's degree in International Politics from KU Leuven .

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