Integration Watch: The quickly changing market for continuous integration

Andrew Binstock
June 9, 2009 —  (Page 1 of 2)
Continuous integration (CI) is a practice that, I believe, is very quietly gaining acceptance in IT. Two years ago, when I first wrote about CI, most folks who were not active in the agile community had never heard of it. Today, most everyone I speak to knows something about it.

I am a judge for the Jolt industry awards, presented by another company, and this year we had several CI products to examine for the first time. While adoption has steadily increased, my view is that the market is maturing quickly, with the predictable effect that users are consolidating around specific packages while ignoring other products.

Before getting into which products will make the cut, it’s necessary to first address an even more fundamental division in the market: enterprise vs. workgroup-scale CI servers. The distinction between the two levels is important in the selection of products. Enterprise CI servers are designed to manage more than builds, running tests and gathering metrics. They have an application development life-cycle management capability, including bill-of-materials inventory, deployment capabilities, release management, and deeper and more extensive process management tools.

In the category of enterprise CI servers, there are three products: Electric Cloud’s Electric Commander, IBM’s Build Forge and UrbanCode’s Anthill Pro. All three are big, expensive propositions that deliver considerable automation to build processes, as well as the early warning alerts implied by the term continuous in CI. UrbanCode provides a free copy to qualifying open-source projects. (To be clear, there is an open-source version of Anthill that’s been around for several years. However, it is completely unrelated to UrbanCode’s current product.)

The heart of the CI market is really in the sub-enterprise servers. These systems focus primarily or exclusively on managing the build, running tests, and storing metrics and statistics. This area has long been dominated by free, open-source products. The grandfather of them all is Cruise Control, which for several years defined the CI market.

Cruise Control was originally developed by ThoughtWorks, then was spun out as OSS, and now parts of it serve as the basis of ThoughtWorks’ new foray into CI, called Cruise. (Note, however, that Cruise is not at all a productized superset of Cruise Control but a different product entirely.)

Related Search Term(s): continuous integration

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06/10/2009 11:40:44 AM EST

Hi, you mentioned the Jolt awards and continuous integration, but you didn't mention OpenMake Software's Meister, which won a Jolt award this year and includes continuous integration with its build automation solution. OpenMake's Mojo Max, the continuous integration and workflow automation product recently won the Code Project's Reader's Choice award. We feel such industry distinction merits the mention of our products in this article. Our solution in fact extends further to providing more benefits to developers than the products you mention. OpenMake provides true build automation, where with most of the others your are required to create or customize your own build solution and the tool provides only a means to remotely execute the scripts and report back the result. Meister provides tight control of compile and archiving commands, dependency management, reporting, test automation, source code control integration and many other features out of the box with no scripting or complex XML configuration required. Perhaps if you were to write an article on the future of continuous integration, a future where developers are not required to spend valuable time to design, code, test and maintain their own scripts to have a continuous integration server do something meaningful, then it would be appropriate to highlight our solutions. I did enjoy your market analysis. We offer continuous integration as part of build automation, for which we have offered a uniquely robust solution for enterprises and workgroups for 14 years. Supporting a company solely on continuous integration (without build automation) and report consolidation seems risky, and that is also why our Mojo product is free for unlimited use. Sean Blanton, Ph.D. Sr. Architect and Agile Practice Leader

United StatesSean Blanton

06/12/2009 05:41:20 PM EST

Hi there, Interesting article. I couldn't help but write a blog post with some thoughts of my own on the subject: Though, to be fair I think we should both get down the betting shop and wager on the outcome :) Julian.

United KingdomJulian Simpson

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