CircleCI vs Jenkins: Choosing The Right CI CD Tool

Posted by Praveen Mishra | July 8, 2020
Automation • DevOps •

45621 Views | 18 Min Read

CircleCI vs Jenkins

If you work in the software industry, you must have realized the never-ending demand for evolution at a particular stage. This is why modern SDLC has more emphasis on the Continuous Integration and Delivery as it helps the DevOps team deliver the software faster with good quality. Gone are the days when Jenkins was the only CI-CD tool that one could think of! Many new CI-CD tools have emerged with out-of-the-box features that make you wonder about which CI-CD should you choose.

One such tool in the CI-CD tug of war is CircleCI which modernizes CI/CD practices by overcoming certain limitations of Jenkins. On the other hand, being one of the oldest players in the CI-CD market, Jenkins has a large user base with an easy learning curve as you get a lot of content & community forums around it. So which one should you use? Should you go for CircleCI or Jenkins? Well, that’s exactly what I would help you decide by the end of this article.

In this article on CircleCI vs Jenkins, I’ll take a deep dive into Jenkins and CircleCI to help you choose the right CI/CD tool for your upcoming release.

For those of you who are new to the DevOps world, I have started the article with foundation-level concepts around CI/CD. If you are an intermediate or advanced DevOps professional then you can skip these parts and start reading from Continuous Integrations with CircleCI.

So, What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration is a development approach where programmers merge their code into a shared repository, which is further verified by automated test and build sequences.

Continuous Integration simplifies integration into a quick, easy-to-repeat production process and ensures that any errors in the process are identified at an early stage. This approach leads to a significant reduction of integration issues and helps teams to release their software rapidly.

By utilizing continuous integration for your development cycle, you can even reduce your costs up to a significant amount. This owes to the faster development cycles as the integration errors reduce & are identified much earlier. You no longer need to backtrack and spend precious time finding these errors. The integration process also gets much shorter and easier. All of these factors lead to a faster go-to-market launch and giving teams more time to work on new features, eventually reducing the production cost.

Continuous integration focuses on test data and automatic system deployment to smoothen the integration process. Switching to CI can be a big transition for your developers but certain tools will help you get the work done faster. These tools can help pace up the deployment process. Here’s a list of tool to get you started:

  • CircleCI: You can start using CircleCI for free. This is basically popular for GitHub projects and sports a self-hosted and a hosted solution.
  • Jenkins: An open-source platform that offers you ample versatility.
  • Pipelines: Launched by Microsoft this tool is free for up to 5 users.
  • Gitlab CI: A GitLab tool which can also be combined with several other tools through the API. It is available free of cost from Gitlab.

Role Of Automation Testing In CI CD Pipeline

What is Continuous Delivery (CD)?

Continuous delivery is a software development process wherein the development phase is more streamlined to allow fast and efficient deliveries to production. A successful continuous delivery method requires ensuring that it can always be in a state where it can be immediately deployed. For CD, app delivery is a regular process with no sentiment of immediacy.

What’s really important about the CD is it will deploy the same resource in all settings. As a consequence, a build-in CI occurs just for once but not for every setting. The created resource should function with placeholders or data structures for a build-on design.

Again an important aspect is that, in order for the deployment to be successful, every condition other than the production has to be the same. Testing, development, and staging must be conducted in a production-friendly environment. Uniform systems can be difficult to maintain in large companies, but the aim is to utilize the same resources, procedures, and settings in all situations.

Key Points to Remember While Deploying With Continuous Delivery:

There are a few points that you need to consider while deploying with the CI/CD tools. These are:

Deploy in smaller batches:

Typically, the reliability of the program is at risk any time a release happens. As a consequence, it is preferred to separate deployments from one another. Yet the trouble with this method is that we end up making a lot of changes.

Odds are that all of the improvements might have complications, causing us to scale back the other adjustments that were going on. Therefore CD promotes that deployment should be executed in small batches to maintain the quality of the process and lower the risk of web application halt.

Delegate Responsibility:

Continuous delivery requires a motivated workforce, as the deployment pipeline is not only a DevOps issue, there should be a collaboration between the DevOps and development team. DevOps should try solutions to support developers in order to create good quality web apps. So they’re not only trying to do the same by advising, as well as by offering all the appropriate resources that a developer may use to solve the issues.

Triggered Automation:

All of the repetitive and redundant manual tasks during each deployment can be automated. It’s hard to eliminate human errors, a lot of time developers might end up making mistakes which can’t be completely in control, by automating some of these processes can result in fewer errors.

Continuous Delivery Tools

  • Azure Pipelines
  • Jenkins
  • Gitlab CI
  • GoCD
  • Spinnaker

What Made CI/CD Inevitable For DevOps & Agile Methodology?

The introduction to CI / CD significantly improved the way programmers and software testers deliver applications. Starting with waterfall and agile the programming technology has now surfaced with DevOps. Different approaches to Continuous Integration, Continuous Development (CI/CD), and Continuous Deployment have emerged with the emergence of DevOps.

Existing app design and distribution approaches are progressively growing out-dated. Previously, in an agile setting, most corporations deployed and exported apps in at least a monthly based release system that easily extended up to quarterly, annual, or even biannual. But currently, with the DevOps framework, the standard is regularly, monthly, and sometimes several times per day.

This is particularly valid when SaaS takes over and from there you can quickly upgrade apps on the go without requiring clients to download additional extensions. Programming teams transitioned to shorter development times by promoting automation through their product production system. Some organizations provide automatic systems to test technology and adapt to different configurations.

Continuous integration relies on integrating the job outputs of different programmers into repositories. It is mostly performed many times per day, as well as the main priority is to allow rapid recognition of integration bugs, which will ultimately result in better cooperation and further development coordination.

The main focus of continuous delivery is to smoother the process in the launch or release phase. Implementation requires the ability to automate each phase in constructing implementations such that a stable delivery of the application can be achieved. Continuous deployment has become a greater standard of automated processes wherein builds / deployment takes place in an automated manner as significant adjustments are integrated into the application.

Continuous Integration With CircleCI

CircleCI is a cloud-based CI/CD tool that automates installation and delivery procedures. It offers quick configuration and maintenance without any complexities. Since it is a cloud-based CI/CD tool, it eliminates the redundancy of a dedicated server and cuts down the cost of maintenance of a constant local server host. Moreover, the cloud-based server plans are scalable, robust, and facilitate faster deployment of applications.

CircleCI manages about one million tasks per day in aid to 30,000 organizations. Clients tend to use CircleCI as their go-to CI/CD tool since projects are performed faster and build are well optimized. CircleCI can also be used to operate really complicated pipelines effectively with docker layer caching, advanced caching, and resource class to operate on faster computers. It further facilitates scalable performance-based pricing options. In the role of a developer, you can setup CircleCI using Secure Shells (SSH) in order to debug the issues in the build. Additionally, you can also set up parallel builds for faster execution of multiple processes.

Once the application repository on GitHub has been approved and submitted to circleci.com in form of a project, any code update executes automatic checks in a fresh container or VM. CircleCI can execute every task in a dedicated container or File. It means that every time you run your project on CircleCI it creates a new container to run the task.

Following the completion of the execution of the task, the CI/CD tool sends an email notification to the tester informing about the success or failure of the executed code. CircleCI further sports IRC notification and integrated Stack. The coverage result of the code can be easily retrieved from the reporting library available at CircleCI. CircleCI can be tailored from deploying code to diverse platforms such as:

  • Kubernetes
  • Microsoft Azure
  • AWS CodeDeploy, AWS EC2, AWS S3
  • Heroku
  • And other platforms by using SSH or configuring the API client.

CircleCI works collaboratively on Devops testing of all design updates until they are deployed through a variety of approaches, such as integration tests, unit tests, and functional tests. CircleCI is compatible with Linux, OSX, containers and can operate independently without the need of additional plugins within a data centre or private cloud servers.

Key features of CircleCI

  • It offers automated parallelism to speed up the deployment of multiple executions.
  • Quick set-up
  • Varied Customisation
  • It’s straightforward and easy to get started
  • Compact and quick to interpret setup of YAML
  • Does not require a dedicated server to operate CircleCI.
  • It caches application specifications and third-party configurations instead of system deployment.

Webinar: Running Effortless Continuous Testing Pipelines With CircleCI & LambdaTest

Automating Builds With Jenkins

Jenkins is an open source CI/CD tool and an integrated development and automated deployment framework that yields higher efficiency. Jenkins is used to continuously create web applications, making it easier for developers to incorporate improvements to the code.

Jenkins, as a CI/CD tool, was initially created as a prototype for the Hudson as automation server. The development for Hudson began early at Sun Microsystems in 2004. It was first launched on Java.net in the year 2005. In November 2010, a concern emerged throughout the Hudson group in regard to the technology utilized, which expanded to involve concerns regarding the operations and supervision of Oracle.

Jenkins is used to set up the CI/CD environment in an easy manner, for almost any language and source code repositories , it also helps in automating the whole build process.

Jenkins combines life-cycle production processes for most aspects, like static analysis, build, deploy and more. Approximately 1,000 plugins have been created by the Jenkins team, allowing the app to interact with other common technology.

With the support of extensions, Jenkins ensures continuous integration. Making it a go to CI/CD tool. Extensions require the incorporation of different stages of DevOps. When you decide to add a different application, you also have to set up the modules for that device. For example, Gradle, Amazon AWS, Git, Maven 2, etc.
This helps you to continually develop your applications while offering an effective CI/CD tool to identify the pipelines and combine them with a broad variety of monitoring and delivery technology. Jenkins itself is a continuous integration platform.

Key Jenkins features

  • Jenkins interacts with around all the SCM or constructs methods that currently exist.
  • Jenkins could be completely programmed from the helpful cloud Interface with robust on-the-fly bug tests and inline support.
  • In Jenkins some aspects could be expanded and updated, so it’s easy to set up fresh Jenkins extensions. This function helps you to tailor Jenkins for your requirements.
  • Jenkins is able to spread build / test loads to several machines of various platforms.

Continuous development also requires high-frequency revisions to refine the way programming operates; it enables real-time tests to determine how coding adjustments meet clear corporate goals.

Coders have a channel to deliver clear input to the company through Jenkins. There would represent a substantial shift in the business world.

CircleCI vs Jenkins: What’s The Difference?

Now coming back to the main question, CircleCI vs Jenkins, which one is better and which one you should prefer. Rather than jumping to conclusions and stating who’s the winner in, CircleCI vs Jenkins. I’ll go through a few major points to define who’s better.

Build Control

In Jenkins, build is powered via the Jenkins UI, so all task configurations are maintained in the Jenkins system files mostly on Jenkins database, rendering it challenging to exchange setup information with the team or organisation. Github or such source servers cannot access the data contained in Jenkins.

In CircleCI, developers can create all tasks in a single document named “circle.yaml.” It’s simple because the CI setup would be like all other source repositories that render it easier to backup and share. Only a limited amount of settings such as confidential info can be stored in an encrypted manner.

With the simplicity and ease to use CircleCI is the clear winner for CircleCI vs Jenkins.

Server

Jenkins requires a dedicated server that needs constant maintenance by the allocated team. It further needs installation of all dependent Jenkins tools and plugins and debugging of issues.

CircleCI is a cloud based platform therefore it functions on a scalable online server. It is an independent tool where any updated code is automatically executed in a new container.

Again, CircleCI with a cloud server provides better scalability and less maintenance, making it a winner in this section of CircleCI vs Jenkins.

Debugging

In Jenkins debugging is a complex process as it needs manual DevOps testing and integrated team support.

Debugging in CircleCI is easier due to SSH and automated DevOps testing features.

With an easier debugging process, CircleCI is yet again a clear winner in this category of CircleCI vs Jenkins.

User Interface

The UI of Jenkins is comparatively slower and less responsive as it loads on a local hosted server and sports a high range of plugins to deploy.

CircleCI’s UI is constantly developing with updates that make it popular with clients. It further has independent built in support that makes it quicker and more responsive.

Everyone adores a good UI, due to this it is a no brainer that CircleCI wins this category of CircleCI vs Jenkins.

Docker Workflow

In Jenkins, developers have no built-in assistance for Docker workflow, a developer requires to install it and deliver it usable in the built-in area.

In CircleCI, developers have built-in assistance for Docker in the workflow that can be reached by inserting in the services segment of the circle.yaml script.

With built-in assistance for Docker in the workflow, CircleCI proves to be better in this category of CircleCI vs Jenkins.

Parallel Builds

Jenkins aids several tasks by multi-threading.

CircleCI provides built-in support for parallelism that can be accomplished across developer options.

This is a tie, as both offer parallel tasks in this category of CircleCI vs Jenkins.

Data Protection

Confidential files and encrypted data can be well protected in Jenkins servers by utilizing Jenkins plugins and credentials.

CircleCI offers a limited setting for encrypted files and maximum data on CircleCI is available for developers to access.

We have a clear winner, CircleCi wins the battle of CircleCI vs Jenkins, as it comes out on top as a scalable option with a better UI.

Integrating CI/CD Tools With Cloud-Based Test Automation Platform

Now that you know the answer to CircleCI vs Jenkins, let’s move ahead with how you can integrate the Selenium test automation tool with CircleCI for DevOps testing.

DevOps testing or Continuous testing is the combination of both CI/CD and test automation, where you test every build when it is either committed, integrated, pushed to a new environment and lastly on deployment.

This is why LambdaTest integration with CI/CD tools can boost your go-to-market launch. With LambdaTest Selenium grid, you can perform. By leveraging parallel testing offered by the Selenium grid, you can significantly reduce your DevOps testing cycles and time spent on executing the automation test cases.

As a prerequisite to run your automation tests, you need to ensure that node.js and the node package manager are installed in the system. To connect to the LambdaTest Selenium Grid, you’d need the access key token to connect and execute automated tests on LambdaTest. This access key is unique for every user and it can be fetched and regenerated from the individual user profile section of the user account as shown below.

LambdaTest Access Key

Alternatively, you can also fetch the access key, username and hub details from the Automation dashboard as shown in the image screenshot below.

integrate CircleCI with the Lambda Test

In order to integrate CircleCI with the Lambda Test, you need to make a few changes in the CircleCI configuration file i.e. cirleci/config.yaml file. The changes required will be majorly include changes in the environment details and the access key token to connect to the online platform.

For setting up the environment details LambdaTest provides the capabilities generator. Here is the link to visit LambdaTest Selenium desired capabilities generator where we can specify the desired environment, we would like to perform our test. This capability generator will generate the required configuration for us which we can use in our config file.

CircleCI vs Jenkins

This is the desired capabilities that is generated for the target environment.

Finally, we have the configurations done and below is the sample file that can be used to perform the integration of CircleCI with LambdaTest. Here we are running selenium test automation with the Nightwatch framework.

The command used for executing the tests is :

Lastly, we can use LambdaTest Automation Dashboard to monitor, analyze and track the progress of our test results.

Also Read: 16 Best Practices Of CI/CD Pipeline To Speed Test Automation

Wrapping It Up!

In conclusion, the key difference between CircleCI vs Jenkins is that Jenkins is more secure and elaborates; CircleCI is lightweight and open. Therefore for faster deployment jobs, one can execute their codes on CircleCI as it deploys on scalable and robust cloud servers. These days CircleCI is a more preferred CI/CD tool and is used widely across the technology industry. Hence, with CircleCI you can deploy code in a reliable manner and by integrating with cloud Selenium grid-like LambaTest you can perform continuous testing in a more scalable manner, also ensuring a faster go-to-market launch.

That’s all for now! I hope you found this article on CircleCI vs Jenkins informative, and now know which CI/CD tool to use. Let me know which is your favorite CI/CD tool or which one you think is better. Do share this article with your peers, this might also save some time if they are also wondering in CircleCI vs Jenkins, which one is better. That’s all for now. Happy Testing!!!😄

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Written by Praveen Mishra

Praveen is a Computer Science Engineer by degree, and a Digital Marketer by heart who works at LambdaTest. A social media maven, who is eager to learn & share about everything new & trendy in the tech domain.

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