8 more cool tools for success in DevOps

Software and services aimed at automation and analytics are helping fuel the DevOps revolution

8 more cool tools for devops success
Credit: iStockphoto
8 more cool tools for devops success

DevOps has been gaining steam at organizations of all stripes thanks to its ability to bridge the gap between software development and operations -- and to smooth rifts between developers and systems administrators. These two groups have historically butted heads over software development, testing, and deploying the apps into production, but devops aims to save the day.

A host of tools have been introduced in the DevOps vein, with configuration managements tools like Puppet and Chef perhaps the best known. But the DevOps tools landscape is much broader than configuration management. Here are eight other tools geared toward devops-minded organizations, each focused on application deployments.

Automic
Automic

Automic focuses on software release automation for devops. The tool serves as an orchestrator for implementing workflows and release pipelines, says Automic CTO John Purrier, and it can orchestrate across tools like Jenkins, Chef and Puppet. Its Docker Package builds visual workflows and automates Docker container builds.

Total Administrative Services Corp. (TASC), which administers employee benefits, uses Automic to automate its software deployments. “We can now do a deployment of our software starting at 3 p.m. and nobody knows, and that’s a huge step. And the Automic solution was easy to implement, easy to use; it’s easy to train on and it’s easy to grow,” said TASC’s Tom Flitter, director of applications and integration, in a YouTube video.

Screenshot: Automic features a dashboard for software release automation.

Red Hat Ansible
Red Hat Ansible

Ansible is an open-source, command-line-driven automation platform for deploying applications and alleviating complexity. The accompanying Ansible Tower serves as a mission control for Ansible, providing control, security, and delegation, according to Justin Demmers, product marketing manager for Ansible Tower. “In the DevOps world, manual is a no-no,” Demmers says, adding that Ansible, which was acquired by Red Hat in 2015, can automate almost anything an IT organization does manually today, such as deploying virtual machines or actual code.

Screenshot: Ansible Tower provides a GUI to view Ansible playbook runs, including audit information.

Dynatrace Ruxit
Dynatrace Ruxit

Ruxit is an application performance management tool that's focused on the operations side. It features what Dynatrace describes as artificial intelligence for analysis and alerting; for example, it can detect if an application is using too many database calls. Alois Reitbauer, Dynatrace’s chief technical strategist for Ruxit, says that it targets “cloud native” apps, which he defines as apps that are developed based on the principles of the cloud from the ground up, using such technologies as Amazon Web Services and microservices.

“Devops obviously is all about collaboration across all of the different departments,” Reitbauer says. “And once you really adopt a devops mentality, you need an easy way to communicate.” Various stakeholders in the application development process can communicate via Ruxit, and the tool offers automated analysis and built-in expert knowledge. It is being converged with Dynatrace’s Application Monitoring tool.

Screenshot: Ruxit features Smartscape technology to visualize components of an application and dependencies.

Gradle
Gradle

Anything downstream of a developer can be automated through build automation scripting within Gradle, says Miko Matsumura, chief marketing officer for Gradle, which has more than 700 community-authored plug-ins representing tools ranging from Docker to GitHub to Hadoop.

Open source developer Bruno Bowden, who has built a plug-in for Gradle that enables Java code to run on iOS, says he sees value in Gradle aids in providing continuous delivery and its ability to work across lots of different environments. “If you compare it to Maven or Ant, for example, Gradle is a lot more concise in how the build is described, which makes it easier to maintain, easier to understand, easier to develop in.” Gradle also happens to be the build system of choice for Android mobile apps. A commercial SaaS offering, Gradle.com, is now in development.

Caption: Gradle executing on the command line.

Jenkins
Jenkins

Jenkins is a well-known, open-source continuous delivery and continuous integration platform, famously spun out of the Hudson project. It's aimed at tasks ranging from continuous integration to driving business automation and deployment workflow, says Tyler Croy, a Jenkins community evangelist at CloudBees, which offers support services for Jenkins. What makes Jenkins a devops tool is its extensibility, he adds. “It can be brought to bear to solve a lot of different problems that people have had across these different silos that people traditionally had in their businesses,” Croy says.

Jenkins is being used to drive configuration management and deploy code, according to Croy, who adds that Jenkins also works with Puppet and Chef workflows, as well as for building and deploying Docker containers. “The fact that it’s being used by operations and it’s already being used by developers means we have a common vocabulary between the two,” he says.

Screenshot: Example of Jenkins Pipeline Stage view, depicting how Jenkins can manage application delivery pipelines, from build to deploy.

JFrog Artifactory
JFrog Artifactory

JFrog Artifactory is a binary repository manager that supports build integration, management of Docker images, development of Opkg packages, and repository replication. It also can host and proxy NuGet packages and host Npm packages and RubyGems. The product manages binaries and software packages and ties right into the concept of devops, according to JFrog CEO Schlomi Ben Haim. “DevOps is all about automation of the [software delivery] process.”

Artifactory can join with a continuous integration environment, and it works with the company’s Bintray software distribution platform. Developers of the Groovy language use Artifactory and JFrog’s TeamCity for continuous integration. “We're using TeamCity to build Groovy, and to push snapshots to an Artifactory repository,” says Groovy developer Guillaume Laforge. “For our releases, we can build a release on TeamCity, push it on Artifactory, to be then promoted as a blessed release on Bintray, which also syncs our releases to the Maven central repository, so developers can easily depend upon the latest and greatest version of Groovy as soon as it's available.”

Screenshot: JFrog Artifactory is a universal artifact repository, supporting artifacts created from Docker, npm, Bower, NuGet, and more.

New Relic
New Relic

New Relic is a SaaS-based software analytics platform, providing information on application performance aimed at improving interactions between an organization’s applications, its customers, and the organization itself. New Relic’s platform helps power devops strategies by allowing teams to work together to monitor all parts of the stack, says Stevan Arychuk, senior product manager at New Relic.

“New Relic provides software analytics capabilities to development and operations teams so they can deliver higher-quality software faster and with less risk,” Arychuk says. “Dev and ops teams have different needs and perspectives; leveraging data and analytics that represent these perspectives and across both technical and business stacks drives collaboration and a common, shared understanding between teams.”

Screenshot: Organizations can quickly identify and troubleshoot application errors from different perspectives by filtering and pivoting on error data.

Takipi
Takipi

Takipi is a tool for detecting and fixing coding errors that supports JVM languages and runs as a Java agent. Information is captured without relying on logs. “We handle a problem that is one of the most painful and time-consuming issues that developers and devops face, which is when something breaks in your production application, the typical process of troubleshooting is going through the log files and try to reproduce the problem,” says Ohad Almog, Takipi vice president of customer success. Usually, there isn't enough information in these files, he adds.

“Instead, Takipi will give you a full reproduction of the problem as if you were there,” Almog says. Taboola, which provides a content marketing platform for the Web, has used Takipi to monitor its Apache Spark data-processing stack.

Screenshot: Takipi detects coding errors in JVM language code, saving developers from having to deal with log files.