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Continuous Delivery Foundation seeks smoother CI/CD paths

The Linux Foundation's latest project aims to connect CI/CD toolmakers, users and open source projects to establish technical specs for continuous delivery.

The Linux Foundation's recently formed Continuous Delivery Foundation aims to foster collaboration among CI/CD vendors, end users and open source projects to set specifications and best practices.

Software development teams adopt continuous delivery to shorten development cycles, so software can be sent to production at any time. But beyond large, web-scale companies, such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, the average company struggles to integrate and automate its DevOps toolchains.

One reason is enterprises must pick from a large menu of often fragmented tools in the CI/CD market, and then integrate the various tools into their CI/CD pipelines. Among the many tools in the CI/CD landscape are Shippable, CloudBees Jenkins, Atlassian's Bamboo, Bitnami, CircleCI, Travis CI, JetBrains' TeamCity and Microsoft's Azure DevOps Server. Nearly every company also creates software to automate its business processes, so CI/CD tools are in higher demand than ever.

Despite some consolidation in the DevOps arena -- JFrog recently acquired Shippable, and CloudBees snapped up Codeship -- enterprises do face a choice: They must integrate several different tools to build their pipelines, or lock into an end-to-end DevOps tools environment with one of the major cloud providers.

To help simplify the process, the Linux Foundation formed the Continuous Delivery Foundation (CDF) in mid-March. Among the CDF's founding members, which span open source software, platforms and tools, are the following: Alibaba, Autodesk, Capital One, CircleCI, CloudBees, GitLab, Google, Huawei, IBM, JFrog, Netflix, Puppet, Red Hat and SAP.

Initially, the Continuous Delivery Foundation will host four prominent CI/CD projects under its aegis: the Jenkins open source CI/CD system; Jenkins X, which automates CI/CD for Kubernetes; Spinnaker, an open source multi-cloud continuous delivery application; and Tekton, an open source project and specification for CI/CD components. CloudBees, which commercializes Jenkins CI/CD in a suite with analytics, delivered Jenkins and Jenkins X to the CDF, while Netflix delivered Spinnaker, and Google delivered Tekton.

The continuous integration aspect of CI/CD is well-figured-out, but enterprises struggle with the continuous delivery end of the pipeline.

Torsten Volk, analyst, Enterprise Management AssociatesTorsten Volk

"Continuous delivery is one of the most talked about and least executed, yet most important, topics in enterprise IT," said Torsten Volk, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

The CDF's standardization also should include software tooling, as well as proven practices and guidelines that can help application teams deliver their software more efficiently, regardless if the delivery platform is the cloud, mobile devices, web, on premises or other nontraditional systems.

"If the collaboration of the CDF can help to create some better standardization around CD via the ecosystem, that would be great," said Jim Mercer, an analyst at IDC.

CI/CD stewardship needs hands on deck

Continuous delivery is one of the most talked about and least executed, yet most important, topics in enterprise IT.
Torsten VolkAnalyst at Enterprise Management Associates

Several vendors will play a key role in the success of the Continuous Delivery Foundation, but those roles also raise some questions.

"In the face of Kubernetes somewhat leveling the CI/CD playing field, it makes sense for Google and IBM to lead this foundation to ultimately make their cloud solutions the logical target of continuous release processes," Volk said.

Also, founding CDF members CloudBees and CircleCI get some additional "good Kubernetes street cred," he added.

IDC's Mercer said he hopes more DevOps players will join the CDF's special interest groups and projects to strengthen the collaboration and outcomes. Others, however, are more skeptical of the CDF and its goals.

"Look, for instance, at CloudBees with Jenkins and where they might want to drive things," said Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Gartner.

Some might fear that the commercial entities that "own" such a project would become more like Oracle with Java, where a single company lords over the technology, he said.

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