Integration Watch: The quickly changing market for continuous integration
June 9, 2009 —
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Related Search Term(s): continuous integration
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.)