CI/CD vs. DevOps: Key Differences and Implementing CI/CD in DevOps

What Is CI/CD? 

CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment. Let’s break down these elements:

  • Continuous Integration (CI) is a development practice where developers integrate code into a shared repository frequently, usually multiple times a day. Each integration is then verified by an automated build and automated tests to detect integration errors as quickly as possible. The goal is to minimize the time and effort required to identify and fix integration problems, improving software quality and reducing validation time.
  • Continuous Delivery (CD) is a software engineering approach where code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for a release to production. It expands upon continuous integration by deploying all code changes to a testing environment and/or a production environment after the build stage.
  • Continuous Deployment takes continuous delivery one step further, by ensuring every change that passes all stages of the production pipeline is released to the customer. There’s no explicit approval from a developer. Instead, every change that makes it through all stages of the pipeline is released to customers.

Learn more in our detailed guide to continuous integration vs. continuous deployment (coming soon)

What Is DevOps? 

DevOps is a cultural and organizational paradigm that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide rapid software delivery with high software quality.

DevOps can be thought of as a movement or a philosophy. It creates a new level of collaboration and integration between development and operations teams, which requires a shift in mindset. It leverages agile management practices, automation tools, continuous delivery, and other innovations to help development and operations teams be more efficient, innovate faster, and deliver higher value to businesses and customers.

In this article:

CI/CD vs. DevOps: Key Differences 


The scope of CI/CD is primarily focused on software development and delivery. It involves practices like version control, code integration, testing, and deployment. CI/CD is a part of the build-and-release process in the software development life cycle.

DevOps has a broader scope. It encompasses the entire software development life cycle, from planning, coding, building, testing, deployment, operation, and monitoring. DevOps is not just a set of practices but a cultural shift towards a more collaborative environment with shared responsibility for the value delivered to customers.


The main objective of CI/CD is to automate the software release process and make software production faster and more reliable. By integrating regularly and delivering continuously, CI/CD aims to prevent integration issues and ensure that the software is always in a release-ready state.

DevOps has a broader objective. It aims to bridge the gap between development and operations, fostering better communication and collaboration. The goal is to create a culture where build, test, and release can happen rapidly, frequently, and more reliably. The end goal of DevOps is to ensure an organization delivers value faster and more effectively.


The CI/CD process involves developers committing their code changes to a shared repository. These changes are then automatically built, tested, and prepared for release. The CD part of CI/CD takes over after testing, automating the release process so that the software can be deployed to production at any time.

The DevOps process includes additional stages. It starts from agile planning; proceeds to coding applications; passes through the stages of CI/CD which are building, testing, release, and deployment; and moves on to ongoing operations, monitoring, and maintenance. All DevOps stages involve a continuous loop of feedback and improvement.

Roles and Teams

In a CI/CD environment, the team primarily consists of developers and testers. Developers write the code, and testers ensure it’s bug-free and ready for deployment.

In a DevOps environment, the team includes not just developers and testers but also operations staff, security professionals, and sometimes even business stakeholders. Everyone works together throughout the software development life cycle, in open communication and collaboration, to ensure software meets its business goals.

Result Metrics

The key metrics for CI/CD include the frequency of code commits, the success rate of builds, the number and severity of bugs found in testing, and the time taken from commit to deploy.

DevOps looks at a wider range of metrics. These might include deployment frequency, change lead time, change failure rate, and mean time to recover (MTTR) from a failure. DevOps metrics are more about the overall health and agility of the software development life cycle.

How Can You Implement CI/CD in a DevOps Organization? 

A DevOps organization is not complete without an effective CI/CD pipeline. Here is how to implement the CI/CD process within your DevOps team.

Select CI/CD Tools

The choice of tools can significantly impact the effectiveness of the CI/CD pipeline. There are many tools available in the market that cater to different aspects of the CI/CD process. The primary types of CI/CD tools are version control systems, build servers, test automation frameworks, and deployment automation tools.

When choosing a CI/CD tool, it’s important to consider several factors. Firstly, the tool should be compatible with the technology stack used in the project. Secondly, it should be easy to use and have a user-friendly interface. Lastly, it should provide robust support for automation and scaling.

Implement Source Control Management

Source control management is a critical aspect of CI/CD. It involves managing and tracking changes to the codebase to maintain the integrity of the code and facilitate collaboration among the team members.

There are several source control management tools available. Popular options include Git, Mercurial, and Subversion. These tools not only help in tracking changes but also provide features like branching and merging, which can be very useful in a CI/CD environment.

When implementing source control management, it’s important to establish clear protocols for code check-ins and check-outs. Regular code reviews should also be conducted to ensure the quality of the code.

Create the CI/CD Pipeline

The CI/CD pipeline is the backbone of the CI/CD process. It’s a series of steps that the code goes through from development to deployment. The pipeline typically includes steps like code compilation, testing, and deployment.

Creating a CI/CD pipeline involves defining the stages and tasks in the pipeline, setting up the necessary tools and infrastructure, and configuring the pipeline to run automatically whenever a change is made to the code.

The CI/CD pipeline should be designed in such a way that it provides fast feedback on the state of the code. It should also be scalable and flexible to accommodate the evolving needs of the project.

Implement Test Automation

There is a large ecosystem of tools and frameworks available for test automation. These tools can automate various types of testing, including unit testing, integration testing, functional testing, load testing, and security testing.

When implementing test automation, it’s important to ensure that the tests are reliable and provide accurate results. The tests should also be maintainable and easy to update as the codebase evolves.

Develop Feedback Loops

Feedback loops are an essential aspect of the CI/CD process. They provide valuable insights into the state of the code and the effectiveness of the CI/CD pipeline.

Feedback loops can be developed through various means, including automated reports, dashboards, and notifications. These feedback mechanisms provide real-time information about the status of the code and any issues that may arise.

It’s important to ensure that the feedback loops are actionable. The information provided should be clear and concise, and there should be a mechanism to act on the feedback promptly.

Iterate and Optimize

The CI/CD process is not a one-time setup but a continuous process of improvement. Regular audits of the CI/CD pipeline can help identify areas of improvement. These audits can reveal issues like bottlenecks in the pipeline, areas of inefficiency, and opportunities for automation.

It’s also important to keep up with the latest trends and developments in the CI/CD and DevOps space. This can provide new insights and ideas for optimizing the CI/CD process. Some of the important recent innovations in CI/CD are in the areas of cloud native and container orchestration, GitOps development workflows, and application security testing.

CI/CD for Kubernetes with Spot by NetApp

Continuous Delivery has entered a new phase as more and more applications are migrating to microservices, with Kubernetes as the container orchestrator of choice for many. Kubernetes enables agility and faster software development cycles, but as release frequency increases, supporting delivery at large-scale becomes complex and inefficient. 

Spot by NetApp introduced Ocean CD as part of the Ocean suite for Kubernetes to address the specific challenges of modern delivery release cycles. Ocean CD provides complete deployment and verification automation in one fully managed solution, making it easy for users to execute deployments with high confidence. Key features of Ocean CD include:

Out-of-the-box progressive delivery strategies 

Canary and blue/green strategies are easy to define, automate and customize. Developers commit code, use any CI tool and Ocean CD detects the deployments, automatically initiating the assigned rollout strategy. 

Continuous verification automation

Ensure stability and quality of deployments even as release frequency increases. Routine verifications of deployments are conducted automatically and based on metrics from monitoring tools like DataDog and New Relic. 

Automatic rollback 

When issues are detected, Ocean CD initiates safe rollbacks and automatically tunes infrastructure to meet changing requirements of workloads. Continuous improvements are made to application deployments based on metrics collected during verification processes. 

To learn more about Ocean for Continuous Delivery read our blog post or visit the product page