What is a CI/CD Pipeline? Unraveling the Definition

45106809 - What is a CI/CD Pipeline? Unraveling the Definition

Dive into the world of DevOps with our detailed post, explaining CI/CD pipelines. Decode the definition, understand its significance, and explore how it revolutionizes software development.


Join 2000+ tech leaders

A digest from our CEO on technology, talent and hard truth. Get it straight to your inbox every two weeks.

    No SPAM. Unsubscribe anytime.

    CI/CD pipeline, or Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment pipeline, is becoming increasingly popular in the IT industry and software development. As organizations strive to develop and deploy applications at a rapid pace, implementing a CI/CD pipeline has proven to be a cost-effective, time-saving, and efficient solution.

    The global DevOps market size is expected to reach $12.85 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 18.60% from 2019 to 2025. The increasing adoption of CI/CD pipeline is one of the major factors contributing to this growth.

    “Continuous delivery is the ability to get changes of all types… into production, or into the hands of users, safely and quickly in a sustainable way.” – Jez Humble

    What is a CI/CD pipeline? Definition of Continuous Integration and Delivery Pipeline

    CI/CD pipeline is a set of processes, tools, and best practices that enable developers to continuously build, test, and deploy applications in a streamlined and automated manner.

    Continuous Integration (CI) is the process of taking code changes from multiple developers and merging them regularly, often several times a day. This allows teams to detect and fix integration errors early, improving software quality over time.

    Continuous Deployment (CD) is the process of automating the deployment of tested code to production environments. This reduces the need for manual intervention and enables teams to quickly and reliably release new features and bug fixes to clients.

    ℹ️ Synonyms: Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment pipeline, Continuous Delivery pipeline, DevOps pipeline, Build Pipeline

    How it Works

    A typical CI/CD pipeline consists of several stages, including code repository, build, test, and deploy. Here are the key steps in the pipeline:

    1. Developers write code and commit changes to a shared code repository, such as Git.
    2. A build system, such as Jenkins or Travis CI, automatically detects the changes, compiles the code, and packages it into an executable artifact.
    3. Automated tests are run to validate the code’s functionality, performance, and security.
    4. If the tests pass, the code is deployed to a staging environment, where it is tested further to ensure proper integration with other components.
    5. Once all tests have been passed, the code is deployed to the production environment.

    ā­  Visual Basic: What Lies Beyond the Definition of this Widely-used Programming Tool

    Benefits of using CI/CD pipeline

    Using a CI/CD pipeline offers numerous benefits to organizations and development teams. Here are some of the most significant advantages:

    • Increased speed and productivity: By automating many of the manual tasks associated with developing and deploying software, a CI/CD pipeline allows organizations to release updates more quickly and with less effort.
    • Improved code quality: Since the pipeline integrates automated testing at every stage, it helps you catch and fix issues early, reducing the risk of releasing buggy or unstable software.
    • Reduced risk: The ability to release small, incremental updates reduces the risk associated with large, monolithic releases.
    • Enhanced collaboration and transparency: With a CI/CD pipeline in place, developers, testers, and operations teams can easily collaborate, reducing the risk of miscommunication or errors due to lack of coordination.
    • Cost savings: By streamlining and automating processes, a CI/CD pipeline can reduce overall development and maintenance costs.

    CI/CD pipeline use cases

    Implementing a CI/CD pipeline is beneficial across various scenarios and industries, some of which include:

    1. Web and mobile application development: As developers work on new features and bug fixes, they can quickly merge changes, test them, and deploy updates without significant downtime.
    2. Microservices architecture: In a highly distributed environment, CI/CD pipelines ensure smooth integration between various services, allowing quick and efficient deployment.
    3. Infrastructure as code: Teams can manage configuration changes to servers, containers, and networks using a CI/CD pipeline that automates and streamlines the deployment process.
    4. Machine learning and data science: CI/CD pipelines can help deploy trained models, track their performance over time, and quickly make updates based on new data or experiments.

    ā­  Defining the Essentials: What Constitutes a Robust Use Case?

    Code Examples

    # Example of a simple CI/CD pipeline configuration file for GitLab CI/CD
      - build
      - test
      - deploy
      stage: build
        - echo "Building the application"
        - ./build.sh
      stage: test
        - echo "Running tests"
        - ./run_tests.sh
      stage: deploy
        - echo "Deploying the application"
        - ./deploy.sh
        - tags

    Best Practices

    To get the most out of a CI/CD pipeline, consider the following best practices: Maintain a single source repository with version control, ensure that the build process is automated, prioritize test automation, deploy to a production-like environment before releasing, use feature toggles to gradually roll out new features, employ centralized logging and monitoring for visibility into your pipeline’s performance, and continuously review and improve your processes.

    Most recommended books about CI/CD pipeline

    If you’re looking for further resources to help you master the topic of CI/CD pipelines, consider these highly recommended books:

    1. Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation by Jez Humble and David Farley
    2. The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, and John Willis
    3. Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim


    Implementing a CI/CD pipeline is crucial for organizations and development teams striving to increase the efficiency, quality, and speed of their software delivery. By embracing best practices, continuously improving processes, and learning from industry experts, your team can revolutionize its approach to software development and deployment.

    Tags: automation, cd, ci, continuous, delivery.

    Lou photo
    Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
    Lou photo
    li profile Lou Reverchuk

    IT Entrepreneur

    Notify of

    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Ready to discuss your hiring needs?