The Evolution of DevOps Tools
How System Administrators and Product Owners Can Stay Current
DevOps is a field that continues to evolve rapidly – and in so doing, stir up strong emotions. Case in point: it is only recently that practitioners and thought-leaders have come to agree on a definition for DevOps. So, it’s understandable that as more organizations are adopting DevOps practices, the number and type of tools used to implement DevOps has also seen rapid growth. In fact, recently, one curated list counted over 200 DevOps tools in active use.
Given that to be successful in DevOps requires applying DevOps principles in practice – by knowing which tools to use and when to use them – System Administrators and Product Owners should stay current with how DevOps tools are evolving. Here are three of today’s most prominent trends in DevOps tools:
DevOps Tools Are Aligning with the DevOps Pipeline
The Continuous Delivery (CD) pipeline model consists of several sequential stages, with each stage having a specific role for moving software changes from development to production. The number of pipeline stages varies by team, but keeps to a common pattern: Build, Continuous Integration and Testing, and Deployment.
For better or worse, builders of DevOps tools have chosen to roll out their innovations based on the CD pipeline model rather than creating solutions that are specialized by other common criteria such as industry or team size.
DevOps Tools Are Integrating with Other Tools
DevOps tools increasingly include plugins for communicating with other tools used throughout the CD pipeline. For example, given its prevalence, all ‘build tools’ integrate with GitHub, allowing software changes to be built whenever changes are pushed to a GitHub repository.
This kind of integration means that team leaders overseeing DevOps projects need to ensure that the tools they choose work together with their software stack and deployment environment.
DevOps Tools Are Becoming Easier to Use
Because of the broad choice of DevOps tools available, ease-of-use has become a distinguishing feature. That’s because DevOps teams are constantly working against time pressures to write and deploy new software.
The focus on ease-of-use has caused the creators of DevOps tools to act. In fact, according to The Forrester Wave: Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2017 report, the need for easy to use tools has: a) Given rise to complete Software-as-a-service (SaaS) Continuous Integration toolchains, like the private SaaS version of CloudBees Jenkins; b) Led to simpler alternatives to existing tools; and c) Including new features such as the Compose-file support added to Docker which allows a configuration file to be used in place of lengthy command-line arguments.
How You Can Stay Current with DevOps Tools
System Administrators and Product Owners should take the following steps to leverage these trends, choose the most appropriate DevOps tools – given a team’s skills, projects, and budgets, and stay current on how these tools continue to evolve:
- Review the tools you currently use at each stage of the CD pipeline. For each tool, establish performance benchmarks. Such benchmarks could include the time it takes to set up the tool, the time it takes to train someone on the tool, the time it takes to generate a meaningful report from the tool, and the number of times the tool underperforms.
- Monitor how DevOps tools are evolving by attending/participating in local DevOps Meetup groups and software user groups.
- Encourage members of your DevOps team to increase their skill in a broad range of DevOps tools – i.e. throughout the CD pipeline – and have them report to the team on the pros and cons of new tools.
- Monitor which DevOps tools that thought-leaders and/or competitors in your industry are training their DevOps teams to use.