Many organizations are now turning to DevOps to deliver software releases faster and become more responsive to rapidly changing environments.
DevOps is an approach that combines software engineering and IT operations to enable a truly modern way of deploying software.
Thankfully, DevOps has a rich ecosystem of tools that help teams meet the unique requirements of this area. Picking the right set of tools is critical for success in DevOps.
In this article, we go over the most important automation tools DevOps engineers need in 2021. Keep on reading to learn what the top automation solutions on the market are and how they all differ from each other to develop a mature DevOps stack for your organization.
Table of contents:
- DevOps automation tools - what are the trends for 2022?
- Top 10 DevOps automation tools you should know
- Brand-new DevOps tools you should try
- Which automation tools for DevOps should you choose?
DevOps tools – what are the trends for 2022?
One of the key principles of DevOps is automation, so no wonder that so many tools are developed to realize this purpose. Automation solutions offer incredible value for engineers as they help to reduce the time needed to carry out processes, improve their quality and flexibility, and ultimately enhance the productivity of teams.
Automation also helps to identify security risks and prevents teams from wasting time on managing their infrastructure. It plays a key role in DevOps because it helps to automate the entire software development lifecycle – from code generation through integration to delivery and continuous testing and monitoring.
In a typical DevOps setup, code is generated in the developer’s machine and then produces some output as a result. That result can now be monitored throughout its lifecycle. Automation helps developers to easily build and run applications.
But automation powers other aspects of software development – from security-related test cases to user experience tests. Another key area of automation is monitoring – configuring servers, networks, and firewalls to monitor all the applications in the production system.
Top 10 DevOps automation tools you should know
Docker is a well-known containerization technology that helps many teams out there to build and run distributed applications efficiently. The idea is to virtualize apps at the process level. Docker builds isolated environments for containerized apps to avoid any conflict between them. By isolating applications into separate containers, Docker makes them more secure.
The solution also provides flexible image management. Docker maintains a private registry to store and manage images. Developers can create their own images or modify current ones in line with their requirements.
Docker was the first tool that made containerization so popular in the IT world, and now it’s being replaced by Kubernetes (more on that one later on!).
Thanks to Docker, teams can finally take advantage of distributed development, as well as faster and automated deployment of their applications. The beauty of Docker apps is that they are OS- and platform-independent. They can easily integrate with cloud computing to build truly cloud-native solutions.
Today, containerization has become a de facto standard in the industry, and Kubernetes is at the forefront of this powerful trend. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform created by Google. The idea was to allow developers to manage containers at a large scale and take their containerization efforts to the next level.
Kubernetes works really well in combination with Docker or any of its equivalents. Thanks to Kubernetes, developers can easily group containers into logical units and automate the process of managing hundreds of containers at the same time.
The primary value of Kubernetes lies in the fact that it allows developers to deploy containerized applications to a cluster of computers instead of a single machine. It does so by automating and alternating the distribution and scheduling of these containers across the cluster.
An alternative to Terraform, Pulumi allows describing the infrastructure using several popular programming languages. It’s a perfect tool for teams looking for a flexible solution that adapts to the ways developers build, deploy, and manage applications and infrastructure using. You can choose from over 60 cloud providers and use Pulumi to create public, private, and hybrid cloud architectures. Adopting modern, cloud-native approaches like serverless, containers, and managed services is easier as well. It’s a great tool for teams looking to accelerate and streamline their Kubernetes adoption process.
Jenkins is a Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) automation tool. It helps teams to monitor the execution of repeated tasks.
This open-source solution written in Java can run with any kind of operating system. Moreover, teams can benefit from various built-in plugins for Continuous Integration, which is actually a key aspect of DevOps.
The CI/CD server of Jenkins allows automating different stages of the delivery pipeline to make development teams more productive. The CI/CD solution can be implemented for practically any combination of programming languages. The Pipeline as a Code feature ensures that CI/CD easily integrates with the entire DevOps chain.
Similar to Jenkins, Bamboo is also a CI/CD DevOps solution. Teams use it to automate the delivery pipeline, starting from the build-up to deployment.
What’s interesting about Bamboo is that it offers many prebuilt functionalities. In Jenkins, you usually need to configure them manually – in Bamboo; you just get them out of the box. That’s why Bamboo only comes with 100 plugins – compare that to Jenkins that has more than 1000 plugins.
The fact that Bamboo doesn’t require teams to install so many plugins and has a lot of built-in features is a massive advantage. You can only imagine how much time teams can save on configuration. It’s easy to integrate Bamboo with other popular tools like BitBucket or Jira.
This cloud infrastructure provisioning tool is an excellent example of Infrastructure as Code (IaC). The idea is to describe the infrastructure using code. Terraform generates a graph of all the resources and then creates or modifies any independent resources. At the same time, it maintains different versions of them.
The platform uses state files to maintain the state of the infrastructure. It also creates an execution plan where all the steps required to reach the desired state are described in detail. Terraform then executes the plan to create a described infrastructure.
This is how Terraform helps DevOps teams to build and change infrastructure efficiently and safely. It works well in both private and public cloud infrastructures.
7. GKE Config Connector
This handy Kubernetes add-on from Google allows managing Google Cloud resources directly through Kubernetes. This helps to reduce complexity and cognitive load for developers, especially since cloud-native development teams tend to work with a complex mix of configuration systems, APIs, and tools for managing their infrastructure. By using Config Connector, they can configure many Google Cloud services and resources with the help of the Kubernetes tooling and APIs they know very well.
This simple and easy-to-deploy configuration management tool is a great help to DevOps teams. It offers a Continuous Delivery feature that opens the doors to faster deployment. No wonder that Ansible dethroned Puppet as a configuration management tool.
Ansible automates application deployment, intra-service orchestration, cloud provisioning, and many other repetitive tasks DevOps engineers usually need to take care of. The best thing is that it doesn’t require any custom security infrastructure either.
Ansible easily connects nodes and pushes out programs called modules into them. And then, it executes the modules and removes them once the execution is complete.
Just like Puppet, Ansible is a great example of an Infrastructure as Code platform. It’s a fast, safe, and lightweight solution for automated management of configuration that accelerates team productivity.
This DevOps tool puts automation first. Vagrant works easily with different operating systems, from Windows to Linux. It creates a single file for every project where the type of machine and software users want to install are described.
The platform focuses on building interactive development environments. Vagrant helps DevOps engineers to get a perfect development environment for the organization. Configuring virtual machine environments is really easy because the workflow Vagrant provides is consistent and easy to use.
Teams can also use many different plugins that integrate really well with other popular configuration management platforms like Puppet, Chef, or Ansible.
Created in 2009, Gradle has proven itself incredibly useful to DevOps engineers. When Google was designated as the official build tool for its Android Studio, Gradle became even more popular.
The tool allows developers to write code in any of the popular languages like Python, C++, or Java and in most of the popular IDEs like IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, or Netbeans.
Gradle uses Groovy-based DSL to describe its build scripts. And in 2016, the team released a Kotlin-based DSL.
The repository format in Gradle can be easily imported around with Maven or Apache Ant. It’s a tool that offers incremental builds that end up saving lots of compile time. It also has a build-cash that reuses the task output, and daemon retains build information in memory in-between builds. These two features are behind Gradle’s incredible performance.
Bonus: DevOps automation evergreen - Git
Git is one of the most popular DevOps tools across the tech industry. It’s easily one of the most common solutions for remote teams and open source contributors.
What exactly is Git? It’s a distributed source code management platform that allows developers to track the progress of their work by maintaining different versions of the source code.
Teams can easily go back to a previous version whenever they need to. Naturally, Git can be easily integrated with many other DevOps tools or workflows with the help of host repositories. GitLab and BitBucket are two of the most popular online Git repository hosting services today.
Brand-new DevOps tools you should try
- ArgoCD and Flux – two great tools for Kubernetes deployment.
- Native cloud tools from cloud service providers – hyperscalers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform deliver many interesting managed services and tools that make software development easier – for example, Azure DevOps or AWS CodePipeline and CodeDeploy.
- Kubernetes operators – these tools automate and streamline the deployment of various components and applications. A good example here is OperatorHub.io.
Which automation tools for DevOps should you choose?
DevOps is a rapidly evolving area of IT, and we’re surely going to see more and more automation tools emerge to support it.
Have you used any of the tools we described above in one of your projects? Or maybe you’re planning to use automation, and you’re not sure which one is the optimal choice for your application? Please share your thoughts in the comments to get all the answers you need and help others pick the best DevOps tools for their projects.