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Azure Pipelines vs CircleCI: What are the differences?

Introduction:

In this article, we will compare and contrast Azure Pipelines and CircleCI, two popular continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) platforms. Azure Pipelines is a cloud-based service offered by Microsoft, while CircleCI is a cloud-native CI/CD platform. Here, we will highlight the key differences between the two platforms.

  1. Integration with Azure DevOps vs GitHub: Azure Pipelines is tightly integrated with Azure DevOps, which provides a full suite of tools for software development and project management. It offers seamless integration with Azure Repos, Azure Boards, and other services within the Azure ecosystem. On the other hand, CircleCI is known for its strong integration with GitHub, making it an ideal choice for projects hosted on GitHub and leveraging its features.

  2. Hosted vs Self-Hosted: Azure Pipelines is a hosted service, meaning that Microsoft takes care of the infrastructure and maintenance, allowing users to focus solely on their pipelines and workflow. CircleCI, on the other hand, provides both a cloud-based service and a self-hosted option. This gives users the flexibility to choose whether they want to use the platform as a service or set it up on their own infrastructure.

  3. Build Environments and Support: Azure Pipelines offers an extensive range of pre-configured build environments, including Windows, Linux, and macOS, allowing developers to build and test their applications on different platforms. It also provides support for Docker containers, enabling users to build containerized applications. CircleCI also supports a wide range of operating systems, but it relies heavily on Docker containers for flexibility and isolation.

  4. Workflow and Configuration: Azure Pipelines uses a YAML-based pipeline configuration, allowing users to define their build and deployment workflows in a declarative manner. It provides a visual editor for pipelines, making it easy to design and modify the workflows. CircleCI predominantly uses a configuration file written in YAML, but it also offers a more flexible approach by allowing users to define their workflows using a domain-specific language called "Orbs." Orbs provide a higher level of abstraction and simplify the configuration process.

  5. Pricing and Cost: Azure Pipelines offers a generous free tier with limited usage quotas, making it accessible for small teams and personal projects. It also offers a pay-as-you-go model with additional features and resources for larger organizations. CircleCI offers a 14-day free trial, after which users need to choose a subscription plan based on their needs. The pricing of CircleCI is primarily based on the number of concurrent builds and containers used, which may be a factor for projects with high parallelization requirements.

  6. Ecosystem and Integrations: Azure Pipelines has a rich ecosystem and integrates well with other Azure services, such as Azure Functions, Azure App Service, and Azure Kubernetes Service, enabling end-to-end automation and deployment. CircleCI, although it has a smaller ecosystem, integrates well with other popular third-party tools like Slack, JIRA, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), enabling seamless integration into existing software development workflows.

In summary, Azure Pipelines distinguishes itself with its strong integration with Azure DevOps, while CircleCI is known for its tight integration with GitHub. Azure Pipelines is a fully hosted service with extensive build environment support, while CircleCI offers both cloud-based and self-hosted options. The workflow and configuration differ slightly, with Azure Pipelines utilizing YAML for pipelines and CircleCI providing more flexibility through its "Orbs" language. Pricing, ecosystems, and integrations also vary between the two platforms.

Advice on Azure Pipelines and CircleCI
Needs advice
on
Azure PipelinesAzure Pipelines
and
JenkinsJenkins

We are currently using Azure Pipelines for continous integration. Our applications are developed witn .NET framework. But when we look at the online Jenkins is the most widely used tool for continous integration. Can you please give me the advice which one is best to use for my case Azure pipeline or jenkins.

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Replies (1)
Recommends
on
GitHubGitHub

If your source code is on GitHub, also take a look at Github actions. https://github.com/features/actions

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Needs advice
on
CircleCICircleCIGitLab CIGitLab CI
and
Jenkins XJenkins X

We are a mid-size startup running Scala apps. Moving from Jenkins/EC2 to Spinnaker/EKS and looking for a tool to cover our CI/CD needs. Our code lives on GitHub, artifacts in nexus, images in ECR.

Drone is out, GitHub actions are being considered along with Circle CI and GitLab CI.

We primarily need:

  • Fast SBT builds (caching)
  • Low maintenance overhead (ideally serverless)
  • Everything as code
  • Ease of use
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Replies (3)
Glenn Gillen
Recommends
on
BuildkiteBuildkite

I think I've tried most of the CI tools out there at some point. It took me a while to get around to Buildkite because at first I didn't see much point given it seemed like you had to run the agent yourself. Eventually it dawned on me why this approach was more ingenious than I realised:

Running my app in a production (or production-like) environment was already a solved problem, because everything was already in some form of "everything as code". Having a test environment where the only difference was adding the Buildkite agent was a trivial addition.

It means that dev/test/prod parity is simple to achieve and maintain. It's also proven to be much easier to support than trying to deal with the problems that come with trying to force an app to fit into the nuances and constraints that are imposed by the containers/runtime of a CI service. When you completely control all of the environment the tests are running in you define those constraints too. It's been a great balance between a managed service and the flexibility of running it yourself.

And while none of my needs have hit the scale of Shopify (I saw one of their engineers speak about it at a conference once, I can't find the video now though 😞) it's good to know I can scale out my worker nodes to hundreds of thousands of workers to reduce the time it takes for my tests to run.

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Recommends
on
jFrogjFrog

I would recommend you to consider the JFrog Platform that includes JFrog Pipelines - it will allow you to manage the full artifact life cycle for your sbt, docker and other technologies, and automate all of your CI and CD using cloud native declarative yaml pipelines. Will integrate smoothly with all your other toolset.

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Estu Fardani
Recommends
on
GitLab CIGitLab CI

more configurable to setup ci/cd: * It can provide caching when build sbt, just add this section to yml file * Easy to use, many documentation

Weakness: * Need use gitlab as repository to bring more powerful configuration

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Needs advice
on
JenkinsJenkinsTravis CITravis CI
and
CircleCICircleCI

From a StackShare Community member: "Currently we use Travis CI and have optimized it as much as we can so our builds are fairly quick. Our boss is all about redundancy so we are looking for another solution to fall back on in case Travis goes down and/or jacks prices way up (they were recently acquired). Could someone recommend which CI we should go with and if they have time, an explanation of how they're different?"

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Replies (6)
Dustin Falgout
Senior Developer at Elegant Themes · | 13 upvotes · 559.4K views

We use CircleCI because of the better value it provides in its plans. I'm sure we could have used Travis just as easily but we found CircleCI's pricing to be more reasonable. In the two years since we signed up, the service has improved. CircleCI is always innovating and iterating on their platform. We have been very satisfied.

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Peter Thomas
Distinguished Engineer at Intuit · | 9 upvotes · 870.4K views
Recommends
on
Travis CITravis CI
at

As the maintainer of the Karate DSL open-source project - I found Travis CI very easy to integrate into the GitHub workflow and it has been steady sailing for more than 2 years now ! It works well for Java / Apache Maven projects and we were able to configure it to use the latest Oracle JDK as per our needs. Thanks to the Travis CI team for this service to the open-source community !

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Recommends
on
Google Cloud BuildGoogle Cloud Build

I use Google Cloud Build because it's my first foray into the CICD world(loving it so far), and I wanted to work with something GCP native to avoid giving permissions to other SaaS tools like CircleCI and Travis CI.

I really like it because it's free for the first 120 minutes, and it's one of the few CICD tools that enterprises are open to using since it's contained within GCP.

One of the unique things is that it has the Kaniko cache, which speeds up builds by creating intermediate layers within the docker image vs. pushing the full thing from the start. Helpful when you're installing just a few additional dependencies.

Feel free to checkout an example: Cloudbuild Example

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Recommends
on
Travis CITravis CI

I use Travis CI because of various reasons - 1. Cloud based system so no dedicated server required, and you do not need to administrate it. 2. Easy YAML configuration. 3. Supports Major Programming Languages. 4. Support of build matrix 6. Supports AWS, Azure, Docker, Heroku, Google Cloud, Github Pages, PyPi and lot more. 7. Slack Notifications.

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Oded Arbel
Recommends
on
GitLab CIGitLab CI

You are probably looking at another hosted solution: Jenkins is a good tool but it way too work intensive to be used as just a backup solution.

I have good experience with Circle-CI, Codeship, Drone.io and Travis (as well as problematic experiences with all of them), but my go-to tool is Gitlab CI: simple, powerful and if you have problems with their limitations or pricing, you can always install runners somewhere and use Gitlab just for scheduling and management. Even if you don't host your git repository at Gitlab, you can have Gitlab pull changes automatically from wherever you repo lives.

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Recommends
on
BuildkiteBuildkite

If you are considering Jenkins I would recommend at least checking out Buildkite. The agents are self-hosted (like Jenkins) but the interface is hosted for you. It meshes up some of the things I like about hosted services (pipeline definitions in YAML, managed interface and authentication) with things I like about Jenkins (local customizable agent images, secrets only on own instances, custom agent level scripts, sizing instances to your needs).

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Decisions about Azure Pipelines and CircleCI

My website is brand new and one of the few requirements of testings I had to implement was code coverage. Never though it was so hard to implement using a #docker container. Given my lack of experience, every attempt I tried on making a simple code coverage test using the 4 combinations of #TravisCI, #CircleCi with #Coveralls, #Codecov I failed. The main problem was I was generating the .coverage file within the docker container and couldn't access it with #TravisCi or #CircleCi, every attempt to solve this problem seems to be very hacky and this was not the kind of complexity I want to introduce to my newborn website. This problem was solved using a specific action for #GitHubActions, it was a 3 line solution I had to put in my github workflow file and I was able to access the .coverage file from my docker container and get the coverage report with #Codecov.

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Buddy is one of the most easy-to-use tools for CI I ever met. When I needed to set up the pipeline I was really impressed with how easy it is to create it with Buddy with only a few moments. It's literally like: 1. Add repo 2. Click - Click - Click 3. You're done and your app is on prod :D The top feature that I've found is a simple integration with different notification channels - not only Slack (which is the one by default), but Telegram and Discord. The support is also neat - guys respond pretty quickly on even a small issue.

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We were long time users of TravisCI, but switched to CircleCI because of the better user interface and pricing. Version 2.0 has had a couple of trips and hiccups; but overall we've been very happy with the continuous integration it provides. Continuous Integration is a must-have for building software, and CircleCI continues to surprise as they roll out ideas and features. It's leading the industry in terms of innovation and new ideas, and it's exciting to see what new things they keep rolling out.

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Jenkins is a pretty flexible, complete tool. Especially I love the possibility to configure jobs as a code with Jenkins pipelines.

CircleCI is well suited for small projects where the main task is to run continuous integration as quickly as possible. Travis CI is recommended primarily for open-source projects that need to be tested in different environments.

And for something a bit larger I prefer to use Jenkins because it is possible to make serious system configuration thereby different plugins. In Jenkins, I can change almost anything. But if you want to start the CI chain as soon as possible, Jenkins may not be the right choice.

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Pros of Azure Pipelines
Pros of CircleCI
  • 4
    Easy to get started
  • 3
    Unlimited CI/CD minutes
  • 3
    Built by Microsoft
  • 2
    Yaml support
  • 2
    Docker support
  • 226
    Github integration
  • 177
    Easy setup
  • 153
    Fast builds
  • 94
    Competitively priced
  • 74
    Slack integration
  • 55
    Docker support
  • 45
    Awesome UI
  • 33
    Great customer support
  • 18
    Ios support
  • 14
    Hipchat integration
  • 13
    SSH debug access
  • 11
    Free for Open Source
  • 6
    Mobile support
  • 5
    Nodejs support
  • 5
    Bitbucket integration
  • 5
    YAML configuration
  • 4
    AWS CodeDeploy integration
  • 3
    Free for Github private repo
  • 3
    Great support
  • 2
    Clojurescript
  • 2
    Continuous Deployment
  • 2
    Parallelism
  • 2
    Clojure
  • 2
    OSX support
  • 2
    Simple, clean UI
  • 1
    Unstable
  • 1
    Ci
  • 1
    Favorite
  • 1
    Helpful documentation
  • 1
    Autoscaling
  • 1
    Extremely configurable
  • 1
    Works
  • 1
    Android support
  • 1
    Fair pricing
  • 1
    All inclusive testing
  • 1
    Japanese in rspec comment appears OK
  • 1
    Build PR Branch Only
  • 1
    So circular
  • 1
    Easy setup, easy to understand, fast and reliable
  • 1
    Parallel builds for slow test suites
  • 1
    Easy setup. 2.0 is fast!
  • 1
    Easy to deploy to private servers
  • 1
    Really easy to use
  • 0
    Stable

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of Azure Pipelines
Cons of CircleCI
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 12
      Unstable
    • 6
      Scammy pricing structure
    • 0
      Aggressive Github permissions

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    What is Azure Pipelines?

    Fast builds with parallel jobs and test execution. Use container jobs to create consistent and reliable builds with the exact tools you need. Create new containers with ease and push them to any registry.

    What is CircleCI?

    Continuous integration and delivery platform helps software teams rapidly release code with confidence by automating the build, test, and deploy process. Offers a modern software development platform that lets teams ramp.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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    What are some alternatives to Azure Pipelines and CircleCI?
    Jenkins
    In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
    AWS Data Pipeline
    AWS Data Pipeline is a web service that provides a simple management system for data-driven workflows. Using AWS Data Pipeline, you define a pipeline composed of the “data sources” that contain your data, the “activities” or business logic such as EMR jobs or SQL queries, and the “schedule” on which your business logic executes. For example, you could define a job that, every hour, runs an Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR)–based analysis on that hour’s Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) log data, loads the results into a relational database for future lookup, and then automatically sends you a daily summary email.
    Travis CI
    Free for open source projects, our CI environment provides multiple runtimes (e.g. Node.js or PHP versions), data stores and so on. Because of this, hosting your project on travis-ci.com means you can effortlessly test your library or applications against multiple runtimes and data stores without even having all of them installed locally.
    AWS CodePipeline
    CodePipeline builds, tests, and deploys your code every time there is a code change, based on the release process models you define.
    Azure Data Factory
    It is a service designed to allow developers to integrate disparate data sources. It is a platform somewhat like SSIS in the cloud to manage the data you have both on-prem and in the cloud.
    See all alternatives