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CI/CD Vendors: A closer look at CircleCI

Last month, we shared a brief overview of Continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery or continuous deployment (CD) and how they work together to help DevOps teams deliver software more efficiently.

Teams who have embraced continuous integration commit code changes daily, rather than waiting for developers to build features in isolation only to find out it causes issues merging after weeks or months of development. Faster deployment, with automation that reduces errors, means faster time to market and cost savings avoiding expensive rework.

stages of CI/CD pipeline graphic
Figure 1: CI (blue stages) and CD (gray stages) pipeline
This month, we’re taking a closer look at one continuous integration tool available on the market: CircleCI.

CircleCI at a glance:

  • Website: https://circleci.com
  • Founded: 2011
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Written in: Clojure and Go
  • Backend: Docker, Kubernetes, Nomad
  • Deployment models: Cloud (AWS or GCP), on-prem (CircleCI Server only)
  • Volume: CircleCI claims to run nearly one million jobs per day in support of 30,000 organizations
  • Version Control System integrations: GitHub, BitBucket, and GitLab.

Top Features

CircleCI is easy to set up and configure. There is no requirement to run a separate server for its cloud-hosted plans. CircleCI configuration is all orchestrated from a single YAML file, config.yml. According to G2 customer reviews, CircleCI receives an 88% satisfaction score for ease of setup versus an average of 85% for the category.

Developers can debug faster by SSH into failed builds for a detailed view into logs and other required information.

CircleCI authenticates users via the VCS, and can adopt permissions from the VCS, simplifying permissions management.

CircleCI includes features as core functionality without depending on plug-ins.

Analyst and User Rankings:

CircleCI was ranked a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Cloud-Native Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2019.

It’s listed as a best DevOps platform in SD Times 100 for 2021 and 2022.

CircleCI is ranked as a “Leader” in the G2 Grid for Continuous Integration and has a 4.4 out of 5-star rating based on customer reviews.

Pricing:

CircleCI offers a Free plan, which is suitable for teams with up to 6,000 build minutes per month. The three paid plans are: Performance, Scale, and Server.

CircleCI Performance ($15/mo) is hosted on CircleCI’s cloud, includes 5 user seats, and can run 80 jobs concurrently. It supports 20 self-hosted runners. Customers can add on support (8×5 SLAs) for $249/month. It offers the following resource classes: Docker, Linux VM, ARM VM, Windows VM, MacOS VM. Customers may also lease bare metal macOS.

CircleCI Scale (starting at $2000/mo) is hosted on CircleCI’s cloud. This plan is customizable, so there is no set number of included user seats or default concurrent jobs limit. Scale includes unlimited self-hosted runners. Scale offers all of the same resource classes as Performance, plus GPU-Nvidia and Windows GPU-Nvidia. It includes a dedicated account team and access to 24/7 support; customers can upgrade their support plans from the included standard package.

CircleCI Server (custom pricing) is self-hosted on the customer’s cloud or on-prem. Pricing is not listed publicly for this plan. It includes 30 user seats and unlimited build minutes. It offers all of the same resource classes as Performance and Scale, except for the macOS bare metal. It includes a higher level support package than Scale, but additional support can is available as an add-on.

Getting Started with CircleCI:

ReleaseTEAM is an authorized reseller for CircleCI, and our experts can help you choose the right plan, assist with migration, and help your team learn how to adopt CI best practices.

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