Let’s understand the difference between continuous deployment and continuous delivery




April 28, 2023

Let’s understand the difference between continuous deployment and continuous delivery

Today’s software-obsessed world demands accelerated time-to-market, enhanced productivity, seamless IT alignment, and reduced costs. Thankfully, software development teams have finally woken up to the fact that deploying and delivering software (or parts of it) over time is a better way to achieve these goals than delivering it in one go. 

DevOps (and its continuous everything concepts) has emerged as the gold standard for enabling a rapid transformation, allowing organizations to absorb new priorities, so they can align themselves to address rapidly changing business requirements. DevOps ensures fewer bugs while allowing changes to be implemented easily and continuously by providing teams with the tools they need to accelerate high-quality software development.

But when it comes to knowing the difference between continuous deployment and continuous delivery, there is always a lot of confusion! Read on to understand the differences between the two concepts that are changing the face of software development. 

The realm of continuous deployment and continuous delivery 

In the DevOps world, continuous deployment and continuous delivery are interchangeable, whereas, in reality, both are different. Continuous deployment ensures that every change made to the code in production is released to customers quickly and efficiently. While continuous delivery aims to ensure that once the code has been tested, it is automatically released into the production environment. 

Let’s look at the two concepts in detail: 

Atlassian defines continuous deployment as a software release process that uses automated testing to validate if changes to a codebase are correct and stable. This validates if changes are automatically deployed to a production environment. By making sure all changes are automatically passed through all stages of the production pipeline and released to customers, continuous deployment offers a convenient way to shorten the feedback loop. Since only a failed test will prevent a change from being deployed to production, developers can focus on building software and see changes go live quickly and efficiently. 

On the other hand, Atlassian defines continuous delivery as an extension of continual integration. This is because continuous delivery automatically deploys all code changes to a testing and production environment after the build stage. It means, in addition to automated testing, teams can have an automated release process in place and deploy applications at any time with the simple click of a button. It also allows them to decide the frequency of releases – that suits their business requirements – and enjoy easy and assured deployments into production. 

Understanding the differences between them

Continuous deployment and delivery deliver exceptional benefits to the software development process: while one makes the development process faster, the other takes away the complexity. Together, they ensure deployment pipelines are automated and feedback loops are faster – making iterations quicker and easier. 

Here’s how the concepts differ across different parameters: 

  1. Continuous deployment automates the deployment process for rapid deployment of changes. Continuous delivery keeps code in an easily deployable state, so upcoming features and changes can be quickly and reliably released.
  2. Process: Continuous deployment takes validated features from the staging environment and deploys them into the production environment – whenever they are ready for release. On the other hand, continuous deployment runs a progressive set of test suites against every build, enabling teams to move bug-free software to a production-like environment.  
  3. Approvals: Continuous deployment negates the need for approvals because changes are automatically released to production. In continuous delivery, even though every change pushed to the main repository is ready to ship, it still requires human approval.
  4. Human involvement: While continuous deployment requires no human intervention, in continuous delivery, tests have to be performed manually to ensure the release of high-quality, bug-free software and code has to be uploaded to the production environment. 

Benefits: Continuous deployment delivers benefits across faster development and low-risk releases. Since issues are quickly and easily fixed, it helps reduce lead time while ensuring a steady stream of improvements. On the other hand, continuous delivery reduces development complexity, enabling teams to have ready-to-deploy code for reliable and rapid releases. Through shorter feedback loops and faster iterations, it allows for improved product quality – and better user satisfaction. 

Bringing high-quality software to the market quickly and efficiently requires you to embrace DevOps and the concepts of continuous deployment and delivery. Although both of these concepts are essential to achieving successful DevOps outcomes, to maximize the benefits of continuous deployment and continuous delivery, automate the build process. This will ensure that code can be compiled, tested, and deployed as soon as possible. At the same time, remember to deploy to production as soon as possible. This is because you can execute a set of test suites against every build and release small batches of code to troubleshoot and rectify issues.

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