Top 9 DevOps Automation Tools to Look Out for in 2023 & Beyond
A software development life cycle has expanded with multiple additions in the past years. As the complexities of the software have grown, so has the method of developing, testing, and releasing it to the end-users. Starting with automating testing and then moving on to development, a need to automate the process between these two helped speed things up faster and do a lot of the heavy stuff automatically. This middle process is called DevOps, and the tools helping us achieve that are termed DevOps Automation Tools.
DevOps automation tools are a bit different than other automation tools. Here, we cannot compare each of them to one another but rather first specify a domain and then inspect deeper into it.
Since different organizations have developed different DevOps tools with varied components, a small guide to DevOps and its features will be seen complementary in this post revolving around various DevOps automation tools, their aspects, and why we require them in the first place.
Table Of Contents
- 1 DevOps and Its Rise Over the Years.
- 2 What are DevOps Automation Tools?
- 3 Why Use DevOps Automation Tools?
- 4 How DevOps Tools Benefit Your Business?
- 5 DevOps Automation Tools Comparison Criteria
- 6 DevOps Automation Tools by Requirements
- 7 Best DevOps Automation Tools Available
- 8 How to Choose the Best DevOps Automation Tool?
- 9 Key Features of DevOps Automation Tools
- 10 Conclusion
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions
- 12 Suggested Reading
DevOps and Its Rise Over the Years.
DevOps combines two practices followed in the software release – software development and operations. Traditionally, development and operations were seen as two different jobs with two different teams. Both teams dedicated their work to a pre-defined set of tasks.
But slowly, this line between the two processes started dissolving, and today, there is no distinction between a developer and an operations specialist. A single term, “DevOps,” has defined a set of tasks that created a new job designation and eliminated the previous conventional strict roles in a few organizations. So, how did this happen?
The initial spark of DevOps could be linked to Telecommunications Information Networking Architecture Consortium, which defined a new model in 1993 that combined software development with telecom operations. Taking inspiration from it, a similar amalgamation was thought of in software development because of the size the software started taking over the years.
Soon, “devopsdays” started picking up in 2009 as a conference that still continues addressing DevOps issues and innovations. Until now, DevOps was just a choice for a new kid in town. However, an increase in agile development led to the adoption of DevOps in agile-based projects and books written on agile and software development. Since then, DevOps has promoted itself from “a choice” to “a necessity.”
Today, DevOps combines development and operations in a way that has transformed software development completely. What used to be “I did my job” converted to “It’s ready to deploy” when talking about personal job responsibilities. In practice, it is not a process but a philosophy that defines certain methods, infrastructure improvements, and development practices that accelerate the release cycles and push high-quality software in the market.
What are DevOps Automation Tools?
DevOps automation tools are software solutions that help organizations streamline and automate various tasks and processes involved in the software development and operations lifecycle. These tools aim to facilitate collaboration, improve efficiency, and ensure consistency in delivering software applications. The choice of tools depends on the specific needs and preferences of an organization, as well as the technology stack being used.
Why Use DevOps Automation Tools?
DevOps automation tools are used for several reasons, as they offer numerous benefits to organizations adopting DevOps practices. They help automate tedious and manual tasks, which streamlines and accelerates various processes involved in software development and operations. DevOps automation tools enable organizations to implement CI/CD practices effectively, helping them to automate the process of integrating code changes, running tests, and deploying applications to production environments.
Overall, the tools support the fast-paced software development environment where complexity often makes an entry.
Although we have a dedicated post on DevOps detailing fine aspects (which is highly recommended for readers unaware of DevOps and its stages), we can summarize a few points that directly affect our business.
How DevOps Tools Benefit Your Business?
DevOps as a philosophy, in very simple words, requires software to be continuously tested for each build and continue deploying the software multiple times a day. It also asks the software to be divided into smaller units called microservices that can work independently and just focus on their tasks rather than building a big coupled complex machine. All this can be made possible with the help of tools that monitor each process and automate our given instructions on them.
The usage of these tools can bring the following benefit to your business:
Using DevOps tools can increase the time taken to accomplish each task. For instance, if regression testing is supported and built into the DevOps cycle, you don’t need to take the build manually and run the regression tests on it. As soon as the build is pushed, the tests will run automatically.
High-quality and reliable application
DevOps tools ensure that they execute every test or instruction set up on them on each build. No matter how small or relevant (like major releases) build you push into the system, they go through the same process, ensuring that the software is released without any gaps.
Easily manages scalable applications
Manual work is only manageable to a point where the application is small. As the audience grows and organizations add more features, the application grows and so does the infrastructure supporting it. As a result, all the manual tasks start taking more time and become error-prone in nature. DevOps automation tools ease that out by handling small and large applications efficiently. Businesses can let their application grow without making any fundamental changes.
Ease of deployment – reduces overall costs
DevOps philosophy asks the organization to deploy their software with smaller updates, sometimes multiple times a day. For instance, Netflix deploys thousands of times per day through DevOps.
Smaller deployments have many advantages. Two of the major ones are that if a bug arises, it is easier to debug; secondly, they are less riskier. Whenever there are any fatal bugs, you just have to roll back a small part of the code. Both of these things save a lot of costs for businesses.
Apart from these, there are many more advantages that DevOps automation tools bring with them. Let us know in the comment section a few of your favorite ones.
DevOps Automation Tools Comparison Criteria
There are multiple DevOps automation tools available in the market, but do you think all of them would work for your projects? Probably not! Selecting a DevOps build automation tool is a highly meticulous process that requires you to look at a few criteria, such as these:
Ease of Use
When many individuals are involved in one project, you have to find a tool that is suitable for all of them or easy to learn and use. A program-based platform that requires hundreds of hours of training and constantly running search queries on Google might not be the right choice with deadlines and a budget for DevOps work.
User Interface (UI)
Look at tools that come with UI that are simple to navigate and support an easy and seamless collaboration with your team. Always choose the tools that support integrating with software and hardware.
Budget is a highly critical factor that influences any tool selection process. After you are done looking at all the necessary features in the automation tool to assist your DevOps builds, focus on the cost of the platform vs the value it brings to your project. This view will guide us in making the final decision in choosing the tool.
Third-party Integrations and Customization
Every team uses more than one tool for their work. Many marketing and sales teams use CRM, Analytics, and SEO tools in tandem. So, clearly, you would need to settle on a DevOps automation tool that comes with integration capabilities. Check if the tool offers extensibility through plugins or APIs and supports custom scripting for tailored automation.
Customer Service Post Deployment
Always select the tool that has reliable customer support to help you through the post-deployment services and queries.
Functionality and Features
Assess the tool’s capabilities for deployment automation, configuration management, CI/CD pipelines, IaC, monitoring, orchestration, and containerization.
Consider the process of upgrading, updating, and maintaining the tool over time.
DevOps Automation Tools by Requirements
DevOps tools can be easily segmented into three categories when you make a division as per the requirements:
DevOps Tools for Measurement
When it comes to the measurement factor, DevOps analyzes, measures, and conducts the auditing process, a key element for every IT organization.
|Prometheus||Prometheus is an open-source monitoring and alerting toolkit designed for reliability and scalability. It excels in collecting and analyzing metrics from various systems.|
|Splunk||Splunk’s capabilities make it well-suited for auditing IT environments. You can create custom searches and reports to monitor changes, security events, and compliance violations.|
|Elasticsearch with the ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana)||Elasticsearch, along with the ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana), is a widely used platform for searching, analyzing, and visualizing data in real-time. You can set up log collection, create custom log processing pipelines, and generate visualizations and reports to aid in auditing processes.|
Tools for Continuous Testing
In DevOps, continuous testing (CT) refers to frequent and automatic testing of software builds in every step of SDLC. The purpose is to ensure the rapid and continuous identification of software defects, improve code quality, and accelerate the delivery of high-quality software through automated, ongoing testing practices. Some tools that can help you with CT are:
|Testsigma||Testsigma provides features for web and mobile app testing, supports behavior-driven development (BDD), and facilitates collaboration among cross-functional teams. It can be seamlessly integrated into CI/CD pipelines to support continuous testing efforts.|
|Jenkins||Jenkins is a popular open-source automation server that supports building, testing, and deploying code in a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. It provides a flexible platform for orchestrating and automating the testing process as part of the CI/CD pipeline.|
|Selenium||Selenium supports various programming languages, has a vibrant community, and can be integrated with CI/CD pipelines for automated testing.|
|Gatling||Gatling uses a domain-specific language (DSL) for writing load test scenarios and supports scripting with Scala. It offers detailed performance reports and can be integrated into CI/CD pipelines to perform continuous load testing.|
Tools for Continuous Delivery
Another key part of DevOps is continuous delivery and integration (CI/CD). Let’s see some tools that support this stage of DevOps automation.
|Kubernetes||Kubernetes is a pivotal tool in the DevOps ecosystem, primarily focused on container orchestration and management.|
|Ansible||Ansible provides effective server and configuration management. It simplifies IT automation by automating repetitive tasks and powering faster deployments.|
|Bamboo||Bamboo is Atlassian’s CI/CD tool that seamlessly integrates with its suite of development and collaboration products. It is designed to automate the build, test, and deployment processes.|
Best DevOps Automation Tools Available
Now that the DevOps importance in our SDLC is clear, let’s see the best DevOps tools available today.
One of the unique tools currently in the market is Testsigma. Popularizing itself as a completely codeless automation testing tool, It uses the English language to construct test cases and use them as scripts for automation testing. Supporting every major type of automation testing, Testsigma provides real devices to execute tests along with a mobile recorder that captures the tester’s actions and converts them to test automatically.
When it comes to core DevOps, the best thing about Testsigma is that it does not act like other tools that work on a specific thing. For example, Jenkins makes sure tests are run on the submission of the build. Similarly, other tools take their specific tasks and need testers to integrate them into their infrastructure, which is not a pleasant scenery always.
Testsigma comes integrated with most of the DevOps-related tools for your comfort. As soon as you make a free account on Testsigma, you get access to DevOps-based tools already attached to the project and ready to be used. This enhances the speed of deployment, and being an open-source tool makes all this even better.
Automate your tests for web, mobile, desktop applications and APIs, 5x faster and from the same place with Testsigma
Probably the most popular name you would hear when it comes to CI/CD or DevOps is Jenkins. Currently, as per the latest reports, Jenkins is used by more than a million people with 147,000 active installations on its name.
The main work of Jenkins comes with continuous integration of the software that works with continuous testing and building the pushed code. With these pushes, Jenkins validates the software with tests divided into stages and provides feedback about each build. In addition, Jenkins provides many integrations that help enhance the functionalities or customize the behavior of Jenkins. For instance, you can easily integrate the reporting features to generate reports of your liking.
Jenkins with various stages through which a build goes through may look similar to this image:
Jenkins is free to use and adopts open-source methodologies. It can also connect itself with version control systems so that you don’t need to provide a build to Jenkins specifically. Instead, each push to the version control system triggers it automatically.
Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform that works with container-based technologies such as Docker. This tool specifically focuses on the microservices part (explained later in the post) and how to run them efficiently without fail.
Since DevOps encourages microservice architecture, many firms use hundreds of them to divide their application into smaller, more manageable parts. When one service fails, the whole system does not shut down. Big firms such as Netflix may have over a thousand microservices to handle tasks which may be distributed globally depending on their architecture.
Such systems need an orchestration platform to keep the DevOps cycle going and Kubernetes is one such open-source platform.
Kubernetes is used to orchestrate containers. However, to build and work on containers, we cannot use Kubernetes. For this, we need a container-providing application, one of which is Docker. In the pipeline of DevOps, consider Docker as a pre-stage of Kubernetes to divide your software into containers (microservices). These are independent of each other and ship with only their own required files, libraries, and dependencies.
Providing both free and premium services, Docker is a popular choice and was reported to be installed on 2.9 million desktops as of 2020.
A typical DevOps team develops an infrastructure that spans multiple third-party services. For instance, the organization may choose the cloud provider as AWS, the server provider as something else, etc. At first, you may spend time establishing this infrastructure but maintaining it manually over time is extremely hectic.
Situations like sudden traffic or initializing instances according to the current usage need constant monitoring. This is where Terraform works. Terraform is an infrastructure-as-code tool in which we define a code file written in HashiCorp language or JSON. This file contains various conditions and initializing code that can be uploaded directly, and Terraform takes care of the rest. The tool supports multiple significant services that can help you easily manage and maintain DevOps elements.
Puppet is software configuration management tool that manages multiple servers, their configurations, software configurations, and much more. Used by 42% of the companies working on the DevOps methodology, Puppet has risen to fame due to the inability of system admins to constantly modify server scripts and configurations according to the changes.
With Puppet, the DevOps engineers can also define IaC files using their own language, eliminating the need for a dedicated team to manage the cloud resource configurations. It brings down the manual work in DevOps configuration management by manifolds.
A good competitor of Terraform and Puppet in the market today is Ansible. The open-source project named Ansible can do much of the work required in maintaining and deploying remote components. It can be used as IaC, application deployment, provisioning resources available on the cloud, automating network configurations, and even ad-hoc task execution.
With so many DevOps-related features in its basket, Ansible lets testers use near-like English to write the code for configurations. It is free and just second in use behind Puppet when it comes to DevOps, according to OpenLogic’s 2022 State of Open Source Survey.
A little different from what we have looked at until now is the Raygun tool. A smart name that has already existed in the science-fiction world, Raygun aims to shoot down any defects or bugs, and monitor anomalies through its deployment over your infrastructure.
The usage of Raygun as a DevOps testing tool is built only on monitoring. Be it your network monitoring, crash monitoring, performance monitoring, deployment monitoring, and a lot more. For an organization that needs to capture and extract maximum details about how things are going and when things went the wrong way, Raygun could be the best choice among the lot.
Branding themselves as “the easiest CI/CD ever,” Buddy claims to reduce the CI/CD related to time by 87% and bring the deployment time to just 12 seconds. In our DevOps world, Buddy focuses on pipeline creation and maintenance while performing continuous integration and continuous deployment.
Buddy provides unlimited delivery pipelines, a high-performance environment, and integrations with version control systems (or cloud repositories) for quick deployments. It works similarly to Jenkins but provides many more features you may not find there. On the downside, testers and organizations need to spend bucks to integrate Buddy with their platform as it is not free or open-source like Jenkins.
How to Choose the Best DevOps Automation Tool?
Now that we are aware of DevOps and so many options that we have with us, it is normal to get confused and settle on a single tool. But sketching out the outline of all the tools can also be time-consuming and may not be a luxury every team can afford. So, what could be termed a “best DevOps automation tool,” and is there one definition for each type of tester?
The answer to this question is “No!” The definition of “best” changes according to the project, team’s knowledge, organization, and the requirements the team is trying to satisfy. However, this is the upper level of choice for the team. The level below this is the generic set of parameters that might help you shortlist a few good tools from all of them. This set of parameters that can help you judge the quality of a DevOps automation tool is as follows:
As you might have already noticed in the list of DevOps automation tools, each tool provides a specific part of the DevOps infrastructure. None of the tools can do everything for you in DevOps. For connecting more than two tools in the DevOps cycle, we need that each of them should support the other.
As an organization, you will have different needs and different software. You may choose AWS or Azure, Jenkins or Travis, GitHub or BitBucket, etc. Choose a tool that has integrations with all the tools you are using and aim to use in the future.
Should be cloud-based
One characteristic that I have personally noticed through experience is the usage of tools that are cloud-based. Working with cloud-based technology is one of the most convenient ways to build and deploy your application. This is due to certain strong reasons. First, cloud-based technologies do not depend upon one system or server in your building. There is a high risk involved in keeping an on-premise server and data storage. Cloud-based servers are safe and reliable and generally provide an uptime of 99.99%.
Secondly and maybe the most important in DevOps is that cloud-based solutions are scalable and that too automatically. Once you have deployed and mentioned configurations through YAML or Lambda functions, the services scale up or down depending on the specified situations. Otherwise, you might have to keep predicting and maintaining them.
Thirdly, cloud-based solutions are cheaper and bring more than they charge. On-premise solutions are expensive to maintain as you have to have a dedicated team for them. Cloud-based solutions are just to rent as per your requirements and some providers even charge based on usage. For instance, if you are using Testsigma, you can even start free for your basic needs.
DevOps is a philosophy that needs strict collaboration between teams and their work. Since DevOps tends to dissolve the line between various departments, a lot of the work may start overlapping between teams, or other team members may start to require the results of your task to work on their own. Communicating everything manually becomes a problem as you may start having updates on lots of small pieces at different places.
To choose a DevOps automation tool, it is essential to analyze it for its communication abilities. The less you need to communicate manually about the updates, the better it is for the team and the project.
The final criterion to judge a tool on is its analytical capabilities. DevOps elements are scattered all over the infrastructure, with each element performing a specific task with more than one team. Each of them works on it according to their project, and when something goes wrong, we need to analyze each step and update on that element. Even if it is working fine, analytics helps us observe whether we are making good use of resources or if something can go in the wrong direction in the future.
Analytics is a powerful way to debug and sneak a peak into the future of the health of your complete infrastructure. It is something you might have to look at every day and optimize your working methodologies. As for me, it is one thing that cannot be compromised while selecting a DevOps automation tool.
These four criteria can help you shortlist a good DevOps automation tool, and then you can select the one you need. Apart from these, if you have more suggestions, let us know in the comment section and help the community.
Key Features of DevOps Automation Tools
Finally, we can look at the few key features that a DevOps tool must have. However, just to let you know, all these features may not be found in one tool. But that does not mean the tool is incompetent! It may provide one feature but may excel in it extraordinarily. So, you may have to check all these boxes of features for a good DevOps pipeline with either one or more than one solution.
The first feature you would want is continuous integration/continuous delivery (or deployment) pipeline creation and maintenance. This feature can be seen as one of the backbones of building an infrastructure based on DevOps methodology.
CI/CD pipeline is normally linked with a version control system that keeps monitoring it for any new pushes. These pushes come from the team members and can be small code changes, even one-liners or enhancements. The job of the CI/CD pipeline is to make sure that each change, big or small, should go through exhaustive testing, and it should be made sure that the code has not affected any part of the software negatively. The type of tests included in the pipeline depends on the developers and testers. Generally, it has unit test cases, integration test cases, regression cases, and acceptance testing. Although, it can be changed according to the project.
In the list of DevOps automation tools we listed above, you may have noticed that a few tools only work in the monitoring department and have millions of users. This is how important monitoring is. While CI/CD pipeline ensures everything is good before release, monitoring ensures everything is good after that. Once the software is released or newer changes are pushed, nobody can predict how things would behave, and there are no set guidelines to make sure everything is perfect all the time. All we can do is monitor and keep optimizing according to the analysis.
The monitoring feature of DevOps automation tools keeps analyzing various parts of the DevOps architecture. This includes cloud services, bug services, CI/CD services, resource utilization services, and much more. It helps you correct things before they go the wrong way so that the end-user may never have any trouble interacting with the application.
Infrastructure as a Code
Infrastructure as a Code is a big topic with a lot of variations involved from tool to tool. However, its presence can ensure that a lot of your configurational time will be saved in this arrangement.
In brief, infrastructure as a code or commonly referred to as IaC is a process where resources are provisioned based on the file submitted by the DevOps engineers that is understandable by the tool. For instance, the following code works with resources available on AWS like EC2 instances and networking:
An IaC file contains information such as how many servers to run in normal instances, which microservice needs to be connected, etc. The file may be written in different languages depending on the tool. This file automatically takes care of a lot of things, rather than physically handling or manually through the interactive platforms. This makes it an important feature a DevOps tool should have.
The final key feature to have in your DevOps automation tool is microservices. When we mention microservices for our application, we are talking about dividing our application into smaller units; so small that they work for a single task and are independent of each other. So, if there is a microservice related to “emailing,” then it has to be called up only when an email needs to be sent automatically. It does not affect other microservices in its execution or during the call.
The best advantage of using microservices is that when one goes down, the other ones continue to work because they are not connected. So if email services are down, your application still works, and you know which area of the application to target and correct it in the code. Having microservices is very important in DevOps and if you are building an infrastructure or choosing a DevOps automation tool, make sure you choose Docker or a similar application.
DevOps is a mix of two separate philosophies that include development and operations. Over time, considering the application complexities and management concerns, these philosophies have started to merge, calling the entire process “DevOps.”
DevOps is a working philosophy that provides a roadmap to build the infrastructure in a robust and more manageable way. This is done either through developing our own tools for specific purposes or taking the help of DevOps automation tools developed by other organizations (or third-party) with a lot of research and optimizations.
This post talks about these DevOps automation tools and the specific tasks they perform in the overall development cycle. But since there can be so many options in front of you, we discussed what things a tester needs to consider while shortlisting a tool best for them. In the end, we provide a few key features that the DevOps automation tool (or tools) should accommodate for a robust pipeline.
I hope this post guides you in your next adventures related to DevOps and serve as a reference point when the tester (or DevOps engineers) needs to choose a DevOps automation tool. Thank you for giving this post your valuable time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best automation tool?
As intriguing as it sounds to know the best automation DevOps automation tool, the reality is there is no such tool as of now. You may find one automation tool that is best in one domain; however, no one tool may have all the expertise.
Although having a tool such as Testsigma with all the DevOps integrations can surely be of help.
Does DevOps need coding?
DevOps does need coding but not as much as you might think. The coding part of the DevOps build depends on the tool you are using, as they may have different language files. Mostly, code is used in IaC files defining resource utilization.
How many types of DevOps tools are there?
There are many DevOps tools on the internet for each specific phase. For instance, the tester may use Jenkins or Travis for CI/CD. For IaC, the tester may use AWS, etc. The selection of a tool boils down to the project requirements and team interests.
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