Continuous integration (CI) tools are the engine that drives today’s SaaS software development strategy across all business, corporate, consumer, and industrial boundaries. CI is crucial to streamlining development processes and providing engineering teams with real-time insights on software deployment.
Continuous delivery (CD) is the next level of continuous integration and is vital to delivering stable software to a test environment so developers can determine whether the software is releasable.
A CI/CD pipeline helps automate steps in the software delivery process, such as initiating code builds, running automated tests, and deploying to a staging or production environment. Automated pipelines remove manual errors, provide standardized development feedback loops, and enable fast product iterations. An effective CI/CD strategy can automate the process all the way to deployment in production environments so customers can see changes sooner.
CI/CD workflows aren’t immune to security concerns. To address these, we recommend integrating security into your DevOps model (something commonly known as DevSecOps). By pairing leading continuous integration tools with a comprehensive security solution like Threat Stack’s Cloud Security Platform®, organizations can develop more reliable and secure applications, without compromising their team’s efficiency. Including Threat Stack in your model would enable you to achieve full stack security observability.
While countless CI/CD tools are available to fit a variety of needs, this post compiles 20 of the most widely used as well as a cross section that are suited to specific different development needs and teams. (For more top tools used by today’s leading development teams, check out our list of the best DevOps tools.)
This cloud-based, all-in-one CI/CD platform enables testing and deployment of apps in the cloud or in a physical server environment. The Windows-only service comes with Visual Studio and other pre-installed software to accelerate CI environment development.
- Isolated build environments for greater security
- SSD drive compatible with dedicated hardware for faster speed
- Enhanced Windows support, including NuGet
AWS CodeBuild is a scalable, cost-effective, cloud-hosted CI tool designed to integrate with other AWS products. Build environments can be pre-configured and are customizable. With pre-configured and customizable build environments, users have plenty of options on where to keep code and how far to take the builds across various stages.
- Support for Java, Python, Node.js, Ruby, Go, Android, .NET Core for Linux, and Docker
- Users can select best-suited compute type based on development needs
- Artifact encryption through integration with the AWS Key Management Service
3. Azure DevOps
Azure DevOps, formerly known as Microsoft Azure’s Visual Studio Team Services, includes its own CI service and agile planning tools for Scrum and Kanban teams. As an open platform, it’s capable of working with any development stack beyond Microsoft technologies.
- Tailored to Visual Studio
- Supports a wide variety of version control systems, programming languages, and deployment targets
- Can host build agents using Docker
Bamboo is Atlassian’s build tool. It is a widely used framework for software teams around the globe. Teams can leverage integrations with the other Atlassian products in particular, which can save time and energy in a variety of ways. Its built-in deployment support and build agent management provide end-to-end visibility.
- Compatible with Docker, AWS, and S3 using a developer’s favorite coding language
- Custom agent assignment for fast critical bug fixes and detailed pre-deploy code history outline for progress tracking
- Integration with Bitbucket, Jira, and other Atlassian products
This Python-built CI testing framework supports complex builds across the application development lifecycle. Its primary function is to act as a bridge for automated tests and builds.
- Custom build status notifications via numerous tools
- Real-time build visualization and completion time estimates
Buildkite is an open-source tool with a focus on scaling builds as well as the visual experience across all of them. It boasts a high number of connections for its build agents, and likewise has various options for visualizing pipelines.
- Unlimited language and toolchain choices
- Native support for Docker containers as well as Unix, Windows, and OS X systems
CircleCI is a major player in the integration and delivery platform market for developers with teams distributed around the globe. They use it effectively for everything from build and test automation to comprehensive deployment processes.
- Accesses custom settings directly from code
- Integrates flawlessly with leading cloud platforms
- Ensures dependency installation in isolated environments through automated use of varied language-specific tools
Recently acquired by Cloudbees, Codeship is a hosted continuous integration platform designed for testing, building, and deploying directly from a GitHub project. It is also known among developers for its efficiency, simplicity, and speed due to a well-designed combination of features for integration and delivery for accurate code deployment following test automation.
- One-click signup for GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket
- Native Docker Instance support
- Efficient monitoring and scaling, simple file management configuration, and simple UI for workflow setup
CruiseControl, which has been around for a long time, is a pluggable, open-source framework for overseeing a continuous build process. It has support for several languages and frameworks, including .Net.
- Custom build loops for build cycles
- JSP reporting for managing build results
- GUI interface for build status visualization
Draco.NET is a Windows service application. Development teams prize its ability to monitor the source code repository and automatically initiate project rebuilds in the event of changes. It also delivers these build results as well as a change list from the last build via email.
- Enables checking of source control repositories like CVS, Visual SourceSafe, PVCS, and SubVersion
- Emails build results with a list of build results from the last change
- Supports builds using NAnt build tool or via Visual Studio
11. GitLab CI
GitLab provides tools for issue management, code views, continuous integration, and deployment in a single dashboard. This web application has an API that stores its state in a database and comes with pre-built packages for popular Linux distributions. Developers know it for easy installation, an intuitive UI and extensive documentation, and a support network of users.
- APIs for most features allow deeper product integrations
- Machine scalability for performance testing
- Unlimited language programming CMD build scripts
Pluralsight Flow analyzes data from Git-based code repositories, including GitHub, GitLab, and
Bitbucket. This enables it to provide team productivity measurements as well as insights into individual work patterns to identify areas for improvement.
- Productivity analytics for software teams
- Comprehensive codebase-focused data reports for managers and stakeholders
- Data visualization and real-time reporting
GoCD from Thoughtworks is an open-source continuous delivery server that ranks among the top build automation tools for automating and streamlining build cycles, tests, and production releases. Among its standout abilities are enabling plugins or designing custom plugins for use, and the ability to set up multiple servers for data availability in case of emergency. GoCD works with Windows, OSX, AWS AMIs, Docker, Debian/APT, RPM/YUM, and Zip.
- Value stream mapping monitors real-time changes being pushed in commits
- Custom triggers manually save functional app versions and custom template system for configuration reuse
- Extensive test reporting pipeline for analyzing and build comparison for files and commits
14. Heroku CI
Heroku CI automates the app’s test suite run based on each push to its GitHub repository. Dev teams can then easily review pre-merge/deploy code-based change test results. The disposable test environment mirrors the team’s staging and production environments to ensure more accurate and safe results. Heroku CI works seamlessly with any Heroku Pipeline.
- Fast, zero-queue time CI
- Detects, sets up, and runs your tests without configuration
- Best-in-class pipeline integration
Jenkins delivers easy continuous integration automation across projects of various languages. This open-source CI can leverage thousands of plugins to streamline project building, running tests, bug detection, code analysis, and project deployment. A web interface enables fast server configuration while its extensive community of users features leading software brands supporting ongoing development. Jenkins X, which is designed for Kubernetes clusters and cloud providers, can deliver CI/CD automation in the cloud.
- Works as either a CI server or CD platform for virtually any project
- Pre-built Unix, Windows, and OS X packages for easy installation
- Comprehensive network machine deployment capabilities for improved building and testing
OctopusDeploy works with any chosen build server to automate releases of ASP .NET applications and Windows services. Testing, staging, and production can be implemented on premise and in the cloud. Instead of source control and build server replacement, it pulls and compiles code from the source control system and handles build-related tasks such as static code analysis. The tool’s dashboard shows deployed versions and their corresponding environments.
- Continuous unit testing and track of code coverage
- Extensive library of REST API and .NET clients
- Supports JetBrains, TeamCity, and Microsoft Team Foundation Server integration
Created at Netflix, Spinnaker is an open-source, multi-cloud continuous delivery platform for releasing rapid software changes. It seamlessly Integrates with a variety of cloud providers while being highly configurable and leveraging industry best practices out of the box.
- Integrates with Jenkins and Travis
- Numerous messaging and collaboration platform integration options
- Cluster management
- Extensive internal API with clear documentation
- Supports Docker
- Publish and subscribe to socket events
The TeamCity intelligent CI server solution from Jetbrains is scalable to projects of any size and provides a hefty number of features geared to developers. The solution is designed to support all modern software stacks and platforms with pre-built installers that enable fast ramp up. TeamCity is cloud compute compatible with scalability across AWS, Microsoft, and VMware vSphere cloud platforms.
- Delivers great support for tool versioning, framework testing, code coverage, and code analysis without any external scripts
- Intuitive settings reuse to eliminate the need for code duplication
- Comprehensive version control for project structure and detailed history reports for build, failures, and changes
20. Travis CI
The Travis CI platform automates the software testing and deployment process and is built to integrate with GitHub projects for continuous code testing. This popular CI tool boasts numerous heavy hitter users such Facebook, Mozilla, Twitter, and Heroku.
- Automated pull request verification
- Easy notification communication via integration of email, Slack, HipChat, and other collaboration tools
- API and CMD tool options for management customization