Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery

Currently, we live in a world where our lives are highly governed by applications for communication, ordering food, scheduling appointments, or more. This dependency has initiated a new wave of requirements of agility, innovation, and quality in products that are delivered rapidly, with reliability. To keep up with this current sea of change happening worldwide and beat the ever-increasing competition, enterprises need to adopt game-changing software development practices that enable rapid software development and delivery and allow them to scale at large.

DevOps and Continuous Delivery are such game-changers enabling enterprises, small, medium, and large, to effectively build quality applications faster and ensure continuous delivery. DevOps synergizes the processes between the development and operations teams, breaking siloed roles and emphasizing collaboration and communication. It automates the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes and creates an environment, where software applications can be built, tested, and released rapidly, frequently, and more reliably.

However, what role does Continuous Delivery play in this modified software development environment? How is it different from DevOps culture and its practices?

To help you find the answer to these questions and more, we are here with a detailed discussion of Continuous Delivery.

What is Continuous Delivery?

An ongoing software development practice, Continuous Delivery is focused on automatically preparing the code changes for a release to the testing/production environment after the build stage. It is considered to be a pillar of modern application development, as it helps developers build an application that has passed through thorough standardized testing processes and delivers greater speed and frequency.

Continuous Delivery automates various software testing processes such as UI testing, load testing, integration testing, API testing, and more to verify application updates across multiple dimensions before they are deployed for the use of the customers. This helps reduce the cost, time, and risk of delivering changes and allows the team to thoroughly validate updates and preemptively discover issues.

Key Components of Continuous Delivery:

Continuous Delivery is a key to ensuring quality development and delivery of software products in this age of cut-throat competition, as it involves shorter, more agile development cycles, frequent integration, and continuous automation of the entire development life cycle from build to testing and deployment.

However, the aspects that make continuous delivery beneficial are not just limited to these. Various common elements ensure the successful implementation of continuous delivery, which include:

  • Sprints: Sprints are short work cycles that help prioritize and organize work based on requirements.
  • Continuous Integration: It involves implementing features taken from the program backlog. This is done by version controlling, building, and integrating the work into a full system and performing end-to-end testing before it is validated in the staging environment.
  • Deployment Pipeline: This helps enable continuous delivery and involves three major components, that is, visibility of all the delivery aspects, feedback for quicker issue resolution, and continuous deployment and release of any software version to any environment through automated processes.
  • Version Control: Also known as Source Control, version control is an important component of software configuration management that involves tracking and managing source code changes over time.
  • Continuous Testing: Another critical component of continuous delivery, Continuous testing allows the team to test early, often, and everywhere, that is, across environments and devices. This helps evaluate quality at every stage of the pipeline where code is continuously developed, delivered, and deployed. Continuous testing is also achieved through automating tests like regression, functional, integration, performance, and more.
  • Automated Deployment/Continuous Release: The goal of this element of continuous delivery is to continually and automatically deploy the code/build to the production environment or staging environment. Automated deployment/continuous release involves controlled and scalable deployment to match the release velocity to development velocity.
  • Deployment Pipeline: This involves maintaining environments for different build stages like system integration, testing, and production environment to induce stability and continuity.
  • Security Testing: Involves vulnerability assessment and penetration tests to ensure the security of the software.
  • Release Management: This is another important component of continuous delivery, which is focused on managing, planning, scheduling, and controlling software delivery throughout the release lifecycle using the right automation tools that facilitate rapid, agile, and consistent software delivery.

These together act as the building blocks of continuous delivery and enable the team to implement the process successfully while ensuring product quality, performance, and speed.

With the basics of Continuous Delivery covered, let us move on to defining the role it plays in DevOps.

Role of Continuous Delivery in DevOps:

It is often assumed that DevOps and Continuous Delivery are the same things. However, though the two share some similarities they are two vastly different concepts focused on different aspects of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

DevOps was a result of the ever-increasing customer demands and expectations for digital products and services and initiated a new software development process that involves the collaboration of the teams involved in software delivery. Whereas, Continuous Delivery is focused on automating this delivery process by bringing various processes together and executing them, rapidly and more frequently.

However, Continuous Delivery does play a major role in DevOps. As defined by AWS, in DevOps, continuous delivery automates the entire software release process and helps trigger an automated flow of build, test, and update, whenever a revision is committed to the code.

The approach of DevOps helps reduce the risk of delivering changes by allowing for more incremental updates to applications in production. Moreover, it improves the quality of the product by allowing teams to find and address bugs and issues quicker and earlier in the development cycle.

In short, with the aid of the automated software release process of Continuous Delivery, teams can deliver quality and secure updates faster and more frequently.

Why Continuous Delivery?

Continuous Delivery, along with other approaches like Continuous Integration, Deployment, Microservices, and more has become extremely beneficial for enterprises worldwide, as it brings with it the promise of better software, delivered faster and at a greater scale.

That’s not all!

This approach of software development and delivery automates processes and allows the team to focus on more critical and priority tasks that require manual attention. Other reasons for adopting continuous delivery include:

  • Quicker, Low-Risk Releases: It involves repeated testing of scripts before deployment which leads to most errors being detected before deployment. This significantly reduces the risks associated with release, making it more agile and reliable.
  • Accelerates Time to Market: With Continuous Delivery, organizations can deliver new and valuable software releases to customers quickly and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Higher Quality: Another major reason for implementing continuous delivery is that it helps improve the quality of the product and updates delivered by significantly reducing the number of open bugs and errors.
  • Happier & More Productive Teams: Since continuous delivery automates the entire process, from build to production, it frees the team from manual tasks and promotes a more happy work culture, which further helps them identify critical issues effectively for deployment.
  • Lower Costs: Continuous delivery helps enterprises reduce the cost of developing and delivering incremental changes by eliminating the excessive costs associated with the existing release process.
  • Continuous Improvement: Continuous delivery helps optimize processes and performs thorough code verification through consistent automated testing, which allows continuous improvement in the code and software and helps deliver better, more reliable results.
  • Easy Maintenance & Update: Continuous delivery makes the process of maintenance and update, which is a crucial part of making a great product, easy and convenient for the team by implementing automated testing and verification earlier in the development life cycle.

Continuous Delivery Pipeline:

The continuous delivery pipeline represents the workflows, activities, and automation required to develop a new functionality from a concept to release. It encompasses the steps that code changes go through to reach the final production environment. If successfully implemented, it helps deliver quality products frequently and predictably to the customer, from testing to production.

It incorporates four major aspects:

  • Continuous Exploration: The focus here is on creating alignment with what is required to be built. Here the team considers and evaluates the market problems and customer requirements and provides the solution to cater to these issues after a thorough hypothesis and market and customer feedback.
  • Continuous Integration: Another critical aspect of the pipeline, is where features are taken and implemented from the program backlog, after which the completed work is committed to version control to be built and integrated into the system. This is then tested before being implemented in the staging environment.
  • Continuous Deployment: It involves taking the verified and monitored changes from the staging environment and deploying them to production for the final release, which is determined by the organization.
  • Release on Demand: This stage of the pipeline, as the name suggests, is making the feature/update/product available to the customers based on business or market requirements, when the organization considers the timing optimal. This involves carefully controlling each release to avoid risks and preserve stability.

Other aspects that play a critical role in the Continuous Delivery Pipeline are:

  • Automation: To ensure the success of the continuous delivery pipeline it is important to automate everything to avoid the risks associated with manual processing.
  • Version Control: From each script to database change, configuration file, and more, use a version control system to avoid unnecessary issues and discrepancies.
  • Acceptance Test: Helps measure the resiliency and supportability of the software product and allows organizations to validate the acceptance of the software as complete.

Continuous Integration Vs Continuous Delivery Vs Continuous Deployment

Any discussion on Continuous delivery is incomplete without its comparison with Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment. Hence, here is a detailed comparison of the three.

Continuous Integration (CI) Continuous Delivery (CD) Continuous Deployment (CD)

Performed immediately after the developer checks-in.

Here developed code is continuously delivered until considered ready for being shipped.

The next step after Continuous Delivery, CD helps deploy the code directly to the production stage when it is developed.

It automatically tests changes in the codebase.

Helps identify and obtain changes of new features, configuration, and bug fixes.

Helps develop and deploy software in a short cycle.

Refers to source code versioning.

It is an extension of Continuous Integration.

Automates implementation of source code.

Uses automated tests like unit tests to identify and rectify bugs and issues early.

Uses business logic tests to check software updates and to release changes to customers properly.

Helps rapidly deploy and validate new code and features directly to the production stage.

Tools for Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery implements automation throughout the life cycle, from source control to production. Currently, there are various tools available that help teams accomplish these tasks.

Here are some of these prominent Continuous Delivery tools to help you find the most suitable and beneficial one.

  • Jenkins: A free, popular automation tool developed in Java, Jenkins allows teams to easily integrate and release changes. Moreover, it offers ease of continuously building and testing software products, which further helps validate software quality and reliability.
  • Bamboo: A prominent continuous delivery tool by Atlassian, Bamboo is used to create build plans as a multi-stage process and identify triggers in different stages. It is an effective tool that helps tie automated builds, tests, and releases together in a single workflow.
  • Buddy: A web-based and self-hosted continuous delivery software that helps build, test, and deploy web sites and applications with code from GitHub, GitLab, etc. Moreover, it eliminates repeatable tasks and allows teams to automatically build and deliver web projects.
  • JBoss: An open-source, subscription-based web application server by Red Hat, JBoss helps build, deploy, and host JAVA applications and services and can run on multiple platforms.
  • Maven: Another open-source project management tool used for JAVA based applications, Apache MAVEN defines how a project is built and its dependencies. It is equipped with predefined conventions and software targets as a central repository, which it uses to perform tasks like software development, compiling, etc.
  • CircleCI: The world's largest and most used Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery platform, CircleCI is used to move code from idea to delivery. Used by companies like Spotify, BuzzFeed, and more CircleCI helps teams to build, test, and deploy code confidently.
  • Bitrise: Bitrise is a prominent Continuous Integration and Delivery tool that helps automate iOS and Android development, testing, and deployment. It is an effective tool that offers benefits like rapid iteration, better apps, faster product-market fit, and overall increased productivity.


Today, when software providers are under pressure to deliver quality products at speed, Continuous delivery is being welcomed as a fast and effective approach to software development and delivery that enables enterprises to release new and more reliable features and bug fixes consistently and frequently to their customers and get their product to market before their competition, facilitating dependable customer relationships and improved ROI.

It has, in short, become one of the prominent DevOps practices that have created a tremendous cultural change and helped businesses effectively initiate their digital transformation.