What is a CI/CD Pipeline?

| Updated on October 27, 2023

CI/CD pipeline stands for Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery pipeline. It describes a set of steps for deploying software. The CI/CD pipeline’s primary focus is to improve software delivery while relying on DevOps.

CI/CD pipelines implement automation and monitoring to improve development. These actions are especially important during the integration, testing, and delivery stages. While it is technically possible to perform each step of the CI/CD pipeline manually, automation streamlines the entire process and reduces the likelihood of errors. 

There are various components of the CI/CD pipeline process from setup to completion; they are clearly outlined in this CI/CD Pipeline infographic. Keep reading for a breakdown of the CI/CD pipeline and why it is essential for high-quality software development.

Elements of a CI/CD Pipeline

As you may have noticed in observing the CI/CD Pipeline infographic, there are numerous distinct elements of the pipeline. Although not totally comprehensive given the variations of a CI/CD pipeline, the stages can be simplified into these basic categories:

  • Build
  • Test
  • Deploy
  • Release

The build is the starting point for all software development. It refers to the physical writing of the source code, which is then converted into a program that the computer can execute.

The test stage is pretty self-explanatory. Since a CI/CD pipeline automates the process, it happens quickly and efficiently. Any bugs will become apparent, in which case the developer will need to return to the building phase to fix them before attempting to run the program.

When ready to deploy, the code will be put into production. In this so-called staging environment, deployment is facilitated by Continuous Delivery (CD), which checks for reliability and stability.

The release is generally the final step of the CI/CD pipeline. This is when the software is finally delivered to a centralized storage location with sufficient security, also known as a repository. At this point, a developer may assess the software to determine if other features should be added. The evaluation process can be a continuous one.

Containers and CI/CD Pipelines

Container refers to the automation of each stage in the software deployment process from building to release. Each stage is “contained” or, in other words, segmented and distinct from one another. Many different container pipeline tools vary in their offerings and execution. 

Each option is accompanied by its own unique advantages and limitations. They vary in popularity as well. Depending on the software developer’s needs, one may be better than another. Some of these CI/CD pipeline tools are:

  • GitLab CI/CD
  • Jenkins X
  • Azure DevOps
  • Heroku

We recommend thoroughly researching each option before deciding on which tool is the best fit.


A CI/CD pipeline can make all the difference in the world for a software developer. Not only does it facilitate and streamline the entire development and deployment process, but it also reduces the likelihood and even eliminates the possibility of errors in the software. 

In the long run, the decision to implement a CI/CD pipeline saves time and enhances the quality of the software. With a shorter time frame from build to release, developers can devote their time to creating a greater quantity of products that perform better and receive more positive feedback.

L. Dias William


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