Jenkins vs CircleCI – What’s the Difference? (Pros and Cons)

Jenkins vs CircleCI, We compare both CI CD platforms with their pros and cons.  Most IT companies look for quick and easy methodologies for Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). This is why they emphasize more on popular Continuous Integration and Delivery tools in software development. Automation of build and releasing codes is becoming a more popular practice as it helps the DevOps team deliver quality results. Jenkins has been a leading CI/CD tool in the market for many years due to its strong community support and a plethora of plugins. But, Jenkins is no more the only CI/CD tool that offers the best services and results. Now, many such CI/CD tools have taken over the market and offer out-of-the-box features.

 

One such tool that has gained so much popularity in a short span is CircleCI. CircleCI is a cloud-based CI tool that offers scalable credit-based plans and can run a million tasks per day. Jenkins has a large user base, yet some of the high-profile companies are switching to CircleCI.

 

In this post, we will provide a head-to-head comparison between the two leading tools – CircleCI vs Jenkins on the basis of security, plugin support, user interface, community support and more. We will go through their features, pros, and cons to help you choose the right CI/CD tool for better results and quick delivery.

What is Jenkins?

jenkins vs circleci

Jenkins is an open-source automation server that automates the whole building process and yields higher efficiency. This CI/CD developer tool launched under an MIT license makes it easier for developers or their teams to incorporate changes or improvements to the code. Written in Java, this CI/CD tool is compatible with Windows, macOS, and other UNIX versions. The CI/CD tool helps create web applications, find and fix errors at the initial stage and integrate the SDLC process. Further, it is a great tool to keep track of your repeated tasks and fix issues. The major drawback of Jenkins is that it requires a dedicated server that needs an allocated team for providing constant maintenance. Thus, overhead expenses are possible.


The tool comprises 1500+ plugins and ensures continuous integration. Originally referred to as Hudson, it helped identify and fix the integration issue at an early stage by the developers. When Oracle took over Sun Microsystems in 2010, a conflict resulted in the creation of a new fork of Hudson, named Jenkins. Hudson, however, was put to an end in early 2020, whereas Jenkins is still in practice and many reputed companies like Google use the tool for functioning and better performance.

Features of Jenkins

  • Easy Installation: Jenkins is an open-source best suitable for macOS, Unix, Windows platforms. The tool can run as a servlet in Java containers but initially requires installing JRE in the system for better installation.
  • Comprises Various Plugins: Jenkins provides approximately 1500+ plugins that ease the customization process. This feature further helps developers to save on overhead expenses.
  • Setup and Configure Process is Simple: Follow the documentation to setup and configure this tool. All the configuration and upgradation steps are properly explained in the documentation, which makes the process simpler and more hassle-free.

 

Supports Parallel Execution and Work Distribution: Integrating Jenkins with other tools and distributing work is much easier as the tool supports parallel execution.

Pros of Jenkins

  • Set up and configuration process is easy
  • The tool is portable and supports multiple languages.
  • The tool has numerous plugins and carries flexible, and versatile features
  • It is easy to deploy codes with Jenkins
  • Jenkins is compatible with Windows, macOS, and other UNIX versions. Also, the tool integrates well with SSO.
  • Supports Parallel Execution and work distribution
  • Provides easy debugging of runners

Cons of Jenkins

  • Jenkins has a complex plugin integration
  • The tool lacks pipeline-tracking analytics
  • The tool provides no proper maintenance for the YAML interface
  • Smaller projects have to deal with overhead expenses as they require setting up the tool themself

What is CircleCI?

CircleCI is one of the most popular cloud-hosted continuous integration & delivery platform best suitable for open source projects. Founded in 2011, the platform helps developers and their teams to speed up builds, test, and deploy. Further, release and automate code faster. CircleCI is popular for GitHub and BitBucket projects, supports different languages, and runs multiple pricing plans suitable for every organization.

 

CircleCI is one of the best CI/CD tools that offers quick configuration, can run highly complex pipelines efficiently, eliminates the redundancy of a dedicated server, offers maintenance without any complexities, and automates installation procedures. It is scalable, robust, and offers quick application deployment.


CircleCI is easy to get started and requires no dedicated server. Every time you add a new project to the tool, it will create a new container to run the task. It requires no additional plugins to run tasks on Linux, OSX, containers as it is highly compatible. The tool supports the smaller community but offers detailed documentation for the users to fill in the gaps. Samsung, Spotify, Ford Motor Company, Coinbase are a few high-profile companies that use CircleCI.

Features of CircleCI

  • Offers quick set up and installation features
  • Offers automated parallelism
  • Offers maintenance with no complexities
  • Requires no dedicated server to operate CircleCI
  • Provides faster deployment of applications
  • It can run highly complicated pipelines effectively with docker layer caching and advanced caching
  • Auto-cancel redundant builds on GitHub as a new build is triggered
  • Run builds only if the pull request is open
  • To debug build issues, you can set up CircleCI using Secure Shells (SSH)
  • Modification of critical project settings by non-admins is not acceptable.
  • Caches application and third-party configurations

Pros of CircleCI

  • Saves time on maintenance: The tool is easy to set up and eliminates redundancy. You can save a lot of time with CircleCI as it offers proper maintenance without causing any complexities.
  • Enhance Productivity: It is better to build, test and deploy in CircleCI. In fact, you can debug the issue of build with SSH access. Its additional features like automated parallelism result in increased productivity and build efficiency across multiple projects.
  • Lessen operational overhead: CircleCI has in-built plugins to run tasks on Linux, OSX, containers. Thus, it reduces your operational overhead expenses of maintaining and installing additional plugins. Also, no additional cost for configuration or maintaining your own infrastructure.
  • Builds consistency across multiple projects: It is easy to manage and share under the CircleCI tool. It stores all your encrypted variables and later shares them with the build containers using SSH.

Cons of CircleCI

  • Available for only GitHub or BitBucket repositories
  • Plugins are not compatible with every CI/CD flow customization
  • Requires purchasing extra credits as the tool does not have unlimited builds.

Jenkins vs CircleCI - Compare Key Differences

CircleCI vs Jenkins - Which CI/CD tool is better?

CircleCI and Jenkins are both popular CI/CD tools. Picking one out of them must completely depend on your requirement, budget, and resource availability. Rather than jumping to conclusions let us compare both practically.

 

If we compare based on setup, both the CI tools are easy to set up and maintain. However, CircleCI provides an overhead for initial setup and maintenance. Parallel execution of builds, maintenance, interactive user interface, managed cloud hosting, faster deployment jobs can be a few reasons why many companies would prefer CircleCI over any other tool.

 

While on the other hand, Jenkins offers strong community support and a plethora of plugins for smooth functioning. Also, there are a few companies that can allocate dedicated jenkins servers and invest in setup and maintenance, which must go in for Jenkins. A few companies that are not interested in sharing their highly confidential data to run over the cloud, can check out for Jenkins. The in-house setup of Jenkins is easy to use and manage.

Final Thoughts

Overall, both tools are useful and have their pros and cons. Go through the above-listed points and decide for yourself which one is best for your organization. If you do not have a large budget and looking for a better solution, then a cloud-based provider is a better option for you. Just keep in mind that CircleCI only integrates with GitHub and Bitbucket. If you are building projects in repositories other than these two, it would be better to invest in using Jenkins. Look for your business requirement and make a final call.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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