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Canary Deployment vs. Blue/Green Deployment

Mar 27, 2023 by Adam Frank

Working in the world of platform engineering and practicing DevOps often means having to juggle multiple competing priorities. One of the biggest questions you might face is: how do you deploy new code changes? There are two main methods to reduce risk while maintaining agility – canary deployments and blue/green deployments. So, which one is right for your organization? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each approach.

Canary deployment vs Blue/Green deployment defined

Canary deployment and blue/green deployment are two techniques used in software development to reduce or eliminate the risk of updating a live system. With a canary deployment, a new version of software is first deployed to a subset of traffic or users while still executing the old version. This allows monitoring and analyzing the new versions, compared to the baseline of the current version. In blue/green deployment, two identical environments hold separate copies of an application; one remains active, while the other receives updates. 

Once the update is complete and tested out on the stand-in environment, it can be safely switched over to production using minimal downtime. Both methods can help minimize the issues that can arise from pushing changes to production systems, aiding in better stability and reliability for users.

Advantages and disadvantages of each method

Canary deployments can be a useful tool for testing out changes in production as they can easily and quickly be rolled back to the original version. However, that same advantage can lead to disadvantageous effects such as potential instability when components of the system can not easily be reversed. 

Blue/green deployment can help to reduce these issues, however it requires an entire parallel production architecture to function effectively, which can incur additional costs. Blue/green deployment is also limited since tests can only occur on one environment at a time, which can prevent simultaneous testing of multiple features or components. Choosing between these two methods can depend heavily on cost, risk tolerance and the throughput required from the development team.

When you would use each type of deployment

When selecting a deployment type, it can be helpful to consider the expected size and complexity of the change, and how quickly it must be rolled out. A canary deployment can be useful for testing out small features and validating that they are functioning correctly. With canary deployments, only a small set of users will be affected initially, so if any unexpected issues arise, they can be addressed immediately without impacting everyone. 

Blue/green deployments provide the fastest way to push out changes at scale and can help facilitate a smooth rollback if needed. This method is ideal for larger changes with potentially wide-reaching impacts.

The two methods compared

Canary deployment and blue/green deployment are common methods of releasing software updates. They both offer a way to introduce new changes without impacting existing users. However, each has its own benefits and considerations. Compared to canary deployment, blue/green deployments can be longer processes as multiple staging environments are used to mirror an entire production environment and can allow more thorough testing. Canary deployments can provide quicker feedback on how changes affect the system. Canary deployments can be beneficial for organizations with limited resources, as it can help reduce the risk associated with a code deployment. 

However, blue/green deployments can have more advantages in terms of speed, scalability and cost savings. The flexibility offered by blue/green deployments can be highly beneficial, as it can give an organization greater control over its environment and streamline the deployment process. Ultimately, when comparing canary deployment to blue/green deployment overall, the latter can provide a more economical solution while offering greater flexibility. 

For these reasons, it is important to consider the advantages of each approach before deciding which method is the best fit for your project. But, to be clear, these are both important strategies to implement and practice as you improve your users’ experience and scale your products.


If you’re looking for a way to reduce risk when releasing new software versions, canary deployments or blue/green deployments are a good option for you. Canary deployments involve releasing new code to a small subset of users before deploying it to the rest of your user base, while blue/green deployments involve maintaining two identical production environments and swapping traffic between them when releasing new code. 

Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one based on your needs. In general, canary deployments are less risky, while blue/green deployments are more expensive but can be easier to roll back if necessary. Whichever method you choose, CD-as-a-Service makes these deployment strategies easy for everyone on your team. 

Try it free today and see how simple Continuous Deployment can be.

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