The software is getting more and more complicated and so is the infrastructure behind it. It is no longer what it used to be with a single web or application server and a database backing it up. Throughout the years, the infrastructure has become more and more complicated.
We have multiple databases, queues, datastores, search engines, and configurations. We want to incorporate continuous delivery and automated testing and deploy everything easily. All of that allows more features, more data, faster processing, and other functionalities that make the user stick with the software and use it. To allow that, we need tools that help us manage the plethora of software that helps run the current generation platforms – the DevOps Tools.
What Are DevOps Tools
DevOps tools are applications that help with the lifecycle process of the modern application stack. These tools help automate manual tasks and manage complex environments designed to scale to enable DevOps Engineers to do their work efficiently. Those tools can be categorized to help describe them, and this is what we did or at least tried to do in this article.
Best DevOps Automation Solutions for Each Phase of the Lifecycle
Let’s look at the top DevOps tools and technologies that can help you during each development lifecycle.
Cloud Solutions are platforms delivering the resources that allow you to run your applications with minimal or no hosting burden. This includes the possibility of running virtual machines, container images, or using the provided managed solutions. Here are a few cloud solutions providers popular among DevOps:
1. Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a computing platform created by Amazon, offering scalable, flexible, and reliable solutions to help you run your applications. It features more than 200 managed services making you forget about the need for configuration and maintenance. As it is advertised, it provides the most managed services across all cloud providers at the moment of writing.
2. Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure is a computer platform created by Microsoft offering more than 200 scalable managed services that support building, deploying, testing, and managing your application in the cloud. It provides the DevOps services as Platform as a service, Software as a service, and Infrastructure as a service. Though Microsoft is usually seen as a Windows operating system manufacturer, its cloud offering supports environments running both Windows and Linux-based applications.
3. Google Cloud Platform
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a suite of computing services that runs on the same set of services that Google uses to provide its services, including Gmail, Google Drive, Google Search, and Youtube. In addition to the management tools, GCP has capabilities such as data storage, data analytics, and machine learning. DevOps can use it in three types of environments – Infrastructure as a service, Platform as a service, and serverless computing.
4. IBM Cloud
Formerly known as Bluemix, IBM Cloud is a set of cloud services offered by IBM and includes more than 170 services, including developer tools, compute services, storage, networking, and many more provided in the form of Infrastructure as a service and Platform as a service.
Handling databases, their schemas, and changes may be challenging, especially when dealing with multiple developers, numerous code branches, and CI/CD processes. Luckily there are tools and platforms for DevOps with features that make database management easier.
Liquibase is an open-source library for managing, tracking, and applying database schema changes. All changes are identified by the author and identifier and stored in text files available in several formats, including YAML, JSON, or SQL. The DevOps tool creates a list with the applied changes, which it then stores in the database and checks during database updates. The changes that were not applied are applied by Liquibase automatically.
DBmaesto is a software as a service tool providing database release automation capabilities which helps DevOps introduce automated continuous integration and continuous delivery processes for databases with zero disruption. The platform offers a visual database pipeline builder enabling verification, deployment, and promotion of database changes along with the release automation module that verifies the final state of the process to ensure successful changes application.
Source Code Management
Source code management tools help DevOps manage, organize and control the code. They enable you to implement the best practices for managing the code, including automated tests and continuous integration workflows.
GitHub offers a distributed version control and source code management functionality of Git with its own additional features, such as access control, bug tracking, task management, feature requests, pull requests, wikis, and continuous integration. Currently a subsidiary of Microsoft, it is a common go-to place for open-source projects and hosts more than 200 million public and private repositories. As of November 2021, it is considered the largest source code host in the world, which puts it among the most important tools for DevOps engineers.
GitLab was initially developed as a source code management solution to collaborate on software development within a team, but it evolved into an integrated solution that covers the whole software development and DevOps lifecycle. Developed by GitLab Inc., it’s distributed under a hybrid license. This means that the core functionalities are open-sourced under the MIT license, while additional functionalities like code owners, dependency scanning and project insights use a proprietary license.
BitBucket is a Git-based source code repository hosting service developed by Atlassian, the company behind Jira. It’s available in the SasS model as well as on-premises and deeply integrates with Jira. This DevOps tool provides all the necessary functionalities such as pull requests with code reviews and comments, continuous delivery service, Git large file storage, source code search, issues tracking, wikis, and hosted static sites. You can also extend it via add-ons that use the provided REST APIs.
Infrastructure as a Code Providers
Infrastructure as a code is a process of managing and provisioning the full infrastructure needed to run your application via definition files rather than physical configuration or UI-based tools. Such an approach helps reduce the costs, increases the speed of development, and reduces the risks of human error.
Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as a code software tool for DevOps. Using HashiCorp Configuration Language or JSON, users can define and provide infrastructure definitions, software as a service definition, or platform as a service definition. HashiCorp, the company behind Terraform, maintains the list of officially supported providers that can be interacted with by declaring resources. That way, Terraform can provide the whole infrastructure as a code, thus helping with reusability and maintainability.
CloudFormation provides a common language to describe and provision all the infrastructure resources in the user’s Amazon Web Services cloud environment. You can create the descriptions – templates, in JSON or YAML and run it, and CloudFormation will create the described resources on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure along with all the dependencies.
Managing the software configuration and managing the runtime environments and software dependencies may be challenging, especially when dealing with complicated infrastructures using many moving pieces. Configuration management tools allow DevOps to introduce the infrastructure as a coding principle to software configuration and manage it as a part of the codebase, reducing repetition and errors.
Puppet is a DevOps software configuration management tool that uses its own declarative language to provide system configuration in a model-driven way. It allows you to manage the lifecycle of the IT infrastructure, from software and infrastructure provisioning to patching and configuration, including managing the operating system components and cloud environments. Puppet configuration describing the target system can be applied directly on the target host or compiled into a catalog and sent to the target system via the REST API provided by the agent.
Chef is a configuration management tool that employs domain-specific language to write configuration “recipes.” DevOps use it to speed up maintenance, setup, and the configuration of software and the infrastructure. It can integrate with major cloud providers such as Amazon EC2, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and more. The Chef user writes the “recipes” to tell it how to manage applications and their configuration. Recipes can be grouped into cookbooks that describe the correct state of the environment – for example, what packages you need to install, the dependencies, and the order in which you should install, configure and run the software.
Ansible is an open-source configuration management tool that DevOps also uses for deployment bringing automation to software management. Ansible uses Playbooks written in YAML that are human-readable and SSH protocol to connect to the defined hosts, push the configuration changes and deploy applications. Because of this approach, it doesn’t require any kind of agent to be installed on the target node.
Containers are fully functional and portable computing environments surrounding the application. Compared to virtual machines, containers have minimal overhead and try to keep the single responsibility principle. Each container runs isolated processes by including the needed dependencies and libraries inside the container image. There are various containerization platforms available, but let’s talk about the most famous ones among DevOps engineers.
Docker is a set of the platform as a service products that uses operating-system-level virtualization to provide containerization. It’s designed to automate the software creation process, deployment of the ready code, and management of the application running in containers within a single machine. This DevOps solution is open-source and is compatible with major cloud providers allowing you to deploy your containers to a managed environment just like you would use them locally. Learn more about this tool from our article on how Docker works.
Available as a daemon for Linux and Windows, Containerd is a DevOps platform used to manage the complete lifecycle of the container. It handles everything from container image transfer to storage ending with container execution and supervision, including storage and network.
Container Orchestration Tools
While the containerization platforms help you manage the containers on a single node, the orchestration in modern computing is seen as allowing you to go beyond a single machine. The container orchestration tools give DevOps control over the architecture, configuration, provisioning, deployment, and management of containerized applications.
Originally developed at Google and now a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kubernetes is an open-source DevOps orchestration platform used for automated container deployment, management, and scaling. Initially, it was backed up by Docker as the only container runtime, but later worked with Containerd, Docker, and CRI-O. Starting from the release 1.24 (released in May 2022), it only supports Container Runtime Interface.
18. Docker Swarm
Docker Swarm is a Docker service built into the Docker Engine that allows the containers to be scaled across multiple Docker daemons that communicate using the Docker API. In Docker swarm mode, multiple Docker Engines are connected, allowing you to use the same Docker commands. The difference is that instead of managing containers on a single node, you manage them in a distributed environment.
Application and Server Monitoring Tools
You can’t fix what you can’t measure, we like to say. You need visibility into the metrics that will tell you about the state of the application. A monitoring tool should be able to provide you with metrics regardless of the environment you are using. That way, you have a full overview of system performance no matter if you want to see a day-to-day status or do a post-mortem analysis.
19. Sematext Monitoring
Sematext Monitoring is a full-stack cloud monitoring solution for DevOps that is easy to set up and that gives in-depth visibility into the IT infrastructure. Sematext’s auto-discovery of services lets you automatically start monitoring your services directly through the user interface. It comes with out-of-the-box dashboards with key cloud application and infrastructure metrics (e.g., common databases and NoSQL stores, servers, containers, etc.), which you can customize. There is powerful alerting with anomaly detection and scheduling. With Sematext Monitoring, you get both reactive and predictive monitoring with easy analysis to deliver a better user experience.
Prometheus is an open-source software DevOps used for event monitoring and alerting. It records real-time metrics in a time-series database to enable high dimensionality with flexible queries. It supports real-time alerting, but it was not designed for visualization, so you should use it with dashboarding solutions like Grafana. Prometheus architecture favors white-box monitoring, encouraging applications to export the metrics so that they can be periodically collected by Prometheus.
Datadog is a SaaS monitoring solution for DevOps that provides a comprehensive set of features needed to monitor your cloud infrastructure, applications, containers, network, logs, or even serverless features such as AWS lambdas. Datadog has thousands of out-of-the-box infrastructure metrics that you can use to view the health of your application stack, containers, virtualization platform, and more and uses an open-source agent to gather that. With Datadog Infrastructure monitoring, you get consolidated dashboards that give you visibility into infrastructure health, with the option to drill down to the status of individual hosts. It provides automated detection of anomalies and an intelligent alerting mechanism.
If you’re just setting up your application performance monitoring strategy, you might be interested in the following tools comparisons:
Log Management and Monitoring Solutions
While metrics give you the top-level overview of your application state and performance, logs provide insights into the processes, their execution, and errors. Log management solutions allow DevOps to get back in time to follow the log events, aggregate them, and derive metrics from them, which is invaluable for both post-mortem analysis and day-to-day analytics.
22. Sematext Logs
Sematext Logs is a cloud logging service for DevOps that allows you to centralize the management of your logs coming from various sources like applications, microservices, operating systems, and various devices. The platform enables you to structure, visualize and analyze all collected data passively and actively. You can create informative dashboards connecting every piece of information to see how your systems behave in real-time or set up alerts to be notified when a critical event happens.
23. Elasticsearch/Logstash/Kibana (Elastic stack)
Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana are the trio known as the ELK stack or Elastic stack. The scalable storage and analytics engine, the data processor, and the visualization layer are the things you need to build a scalable log centralization solution. With a user-centric approach and plethora of functionalities, the ELK stack quickly became the go-to DevOps tool for log management. Users appreciate the ELK stack for its user-friendliness, quick and easy setup and versatility. Once you ship your data you can create the visualizations in real time based on the data without the needs of pre aggregations, which gives you a completely new view over the logs.
Splunk is one of the most well-known log monitoring and analysis platforms in the DevOps world, offering both free and paid plans. It collects, stores, indexes, correlates, visualizes, analyzes, and reports on any type of machine-generated data, whether structured, unstructured, or sophisticated application logs, based on a multi-line approach. You can search through both real-time and historical log data. Splunk allows you to set up real-time alerts where automatic trigger notifications can be sent through email or RSS. You can also create custom reports and dashboards to better view your data and detect and solve security issues faster.
If you’re interested in building your log management pipeline, the following tools comparisons might be useful:
CI/CD Automation Tools
The CI/CD acronym in software development refers to continuous integration and continuous delivery or continuous deployment. Continuous integration is about automating the process of building the software, testing it, and merging it to the shared repository. Continuous delivery is a process of testing and automatically delivering the binary build to a shared place – like a container registry. Continuous deployment is the process of releasing the software automatically so that your users can start experiencing the newly developed features. The whole process can be complicated, but there are DevOps tools that can help you build it.
Jenkins started as a CI server and turned into a full-featured CD platform, open-sourced with a large community and extensible architecture. It is easy to install and configure and supports distribution, so you are not bound to a single install of it while building complicated projects or having large development teams. You can use this DevOps tool to build your projects, run tests, static code analysis, application deployment, and many other things.
Bamboo is a continuous integration and continuous deployment server for DevOps provided by Atlassian, the creators of Jira. It allows you to build multi-stage build plans into a single plan that connects automated software builds, tests, and releases. It is tightly integrated with other Atlassian products such as Jira and Confluence, which comes in handy for companies that base their processes on Atlassian products.
CircleCI is one of the most popular DevOps CI/CD platforms available on-premise and as Software as a service. It supports various environments and integrates with several providers such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform via Orbs – snippets of YAML that can be shared and used to simplify the build configuration.
One of the most crucial elements in the common build DevOps pipelines is the build tools. They automate the building process, allowing you to create configurations, manage dependencies and run builds for various target platforms.
Apache Ant is an open-source DevOps tool used for automating the software build process.Developed under the Apache Software umbrella, Ant was designed as a replacement for the Make build tool, so it provides tasks that allow you to compile, build, test, and run Java applications. It comes as a library and a command-line application, uses an XML format to describe the code build process and dependencies. Though it is mainly known in the Java world, it is used to build software in different languages as long as the build process can be expressed as targets and tasks.
Maven is one of the most popular build automation tools for DevOps developed under the Apache Software Foundation umbrella. It is primarily known in the Java ecosystem but can be used to manage the build of software written in different languages such as Scala, C/C++ and C#. Maven focuses on two key things – the build process and dependency management. It uses an XML file to describe the whole build process, the needed dependencies, the modules, and so on – in other words, all that is required to build to be successful. The idea behind Maven is to provide a set of pre-defined targets for performing common tasks and automatically download Java dependencies from public and private artifact providers. Though it is written in Java, Maven is extensible, so you can use it for other languages – for example, there is an official C/C++ plugin.
A repository manager is dedicated to managing repositories of binary components, such as Maven artifacts. They work as proxy servers standing between your build pipeline and the publicly available repositories that you use. They can also be used as destinations for your own private artifacts and as a must if security policies disallow downloading the binary packages directly from public sources. Finally, such DevOps solutions increase the stability of your builds due to reducing the dependency on the external repositories.
31. JFrog Artifactory
The JFrog Artifactory serves as the source of all your binary data and more. It can host your software packages, container images, and Helm charts and help you manage them during each phase of the DevOps lifecycle, from development to shipping the software to production. It uses REST API, clustering, and multi-site replication for automation and supports various IDEs and ecosystems. It comes in two versions with different functionalities – open-source, called JFrog Artifactory Open Source, and commercial, known as JFrog Artifactory Pro.
32. Sonatype Nexus
Sonatype Nexus provides the place for all your binary artifacts, like binary packages produced by various build tools, container images, and Helm charts. It integrates with IDEs like Visual Studio or IntelliJ so that you don’t have to leave your programming environment to work with your binary artifacts. Sonatype supports various ecosystems, including Maven, NuGet, NPM, PyPI, and CocoaPods, and comes in two versions – Sonatype Nexus OSS, which is open-source, and Sonatype Nexus Pro, which is a commercial solution.
The observability solutions are good in what they do – offer insights into the environment – but they sometimes lack the whole pipeline for incident alerts and reporting. That’s why there are tools that fill the communication gap called on-call solutions. They provide additional features useful for DevOps, like event automation and triage, noise suppression, alerts and notifications centralization, and many destinations where you can send the information.
PagerDuty is an all-in-one alert and notification management solution that can help reduce incidents in your cloud system. It enables you to centralize notifications coming from various places, organize them, assign, automate, and send to virtually any destination you may think of. It not only provides a simple way of viewing and forwarding the data but also automates incident response, schedules on-call, and escalates incidents, extremely useful features in a DevOps toolset.
From the creators of Jira and Confluence comes OpsGenie, the central place for your alerts and notifications. It allows you to manage alerts, plan on-call schedules, and react automatically based on user-defined rules. With a rich set of integrations, heartbeat monitoring, and alert deduplication, you can use this DevOps tool to centralize all your alerts and notifications.
Incident, Change, and Problem Tracking Software
Unit tests, integration tests, end-to-end tests – we do anything to avoid as many issues and bugs as possible. But no matter what we do, there are still things beyond our control – hardware will fail, the network will fail, runtime environments will crash, and, of course, our software will have issues as well. Because of that, we need to be prepared to track and manage incidents, keep change requests under control, and track issues in a manageable way.
Asana is a software as a service tool created to provide team collaboration and work management functionalities. It offers project management features such as project creation, work assignments, deadlines, and communication. It allows timeline management and progress tracking to ease tasks and effort tracking.
Jira is a commercial issue tracking and project management tool developed by Atlassian. It is future rich, supports REST API, SOAP, and XML-RPC interfaces for remote communication, and can be integrated with the most commonly used version control DevOps tools such as Git, Mercurial, Subversion, and Team Foundation Server. It is offered in different packages supporting generic project management as well as agile software development, service management, and strategic product and portfolio management. One of the most known Jira users is the Apache Software Foundation.
This was just a glimpse into the top DevOps tools available on the market. It’s physically impossible to capture all the platforms useful for managing the whole DevOps lifecycle of your application. However, we hope that this curated list with the ones the DevOps community considers are essential in their category will help you save time and decide which is the right one for your specific use case.