Best alternatives to Jenkins for continuous integration and development

As an increasing number of organisations move towards a DevOps culture, Jenkins has proved itself to be popular continuous integration software for developers since being spun out of the Hudson project at Sun Microsystems in 2011. However it can sometimes prove unwieldy, and a new breed of tools are starting to emerge to challenge the incumbent in the space.

In short, continuous integration software allows developers to find and solve defects in a code base and automate some testing to speed up deployments.

There are plenty of alternatives to the open-source Jenkins software, including some proprietary options as well as alternatives on open source licenses.

Our top picks are:

- CircleCI
- Atlassian Bamboo
- Harness

Read on for the full list.

CircleCI

CircleCI

CircleCIis a commercial provider of both an orchestration layer and a workflow tool for automating code changes for DevOps teams. Pricing is based on the number of containers and concurrent builds being run, starting at $50 per month for two, with unlimited users and builds included.

The company was founded in 2011 to provide continuous integration as-a-service for customers wanting to replace Jenkins if they didn't want to manage their own servers. It has since expanded to be deployed on-premise or in a private cloud.

Where CircleCI claims to stand out is in environments running at large scale, easing the burden on DevOps teams that they would encounter with Jenkins.

Atlassian Bamboo
© Atlassian

Atlassian Bamboo

The well-known vendor Atlassian has a continuous integration tool called Bamboo. The tool can be deployed across Docker containers or for running applications in the public cloud with the likes of Amazon Web Services.

The tool gives developers code visibility and easily integrates with fellow Atlassian tools like Bitbucket Git code management solution, Jira for project management, and HipChat.

Again, Atlassian claims that Bamboo is a more scalable option than Jenkins.

Harness
© Harness

Harness

The newest entrant to this area is Harness, which came out of stealth in October 2017. The company has been founded by Jyoti Bansal, the founder of application monitoring company AppDynamics that he sold to Cisco for $3.7 billion.

Harness essentially automates monitoring by leveraging machine learning to ease the deployment of software. To start with, Harness will seek to identify an application’s baseline performance and automate rollbacks when things aren't running as they should be. The platform comes with analytics for DevOps teams to see what's happening across deployments and has integrated security and role-based access control.

The pro version costs $25/month per service instance.

Shippable
© Shippable

Shippable

Seattle-based company Shippable has developed continuous integration software which can be run as-a-service. The software is declarative, meaning developers don't need to write as much code, they can simply aim the tool where they need it.

Shippable also made its intentions towards the enterprise clear when it released Shippable Server in June 2017, but the product still lacks the sort of granular security controls many enterprise customers will want.

Spinnaker
© Spinnaker

Spinnaker

Netflix open sourced is continuous delivery tool Spinnaker in 2015 and has since seen heavyweights like Google, Oracle and Microsoft join its community. Spinnaker runs on all of the major public cloud providers, as well as Kubernetes and OpenStack.

The product is only in version 1.0 and may not be exactly enterprise-ready at this stage though, and it lacks the depth of integrations complex enterprise customers may require.

TeamCity
© TeamCity

TeamCity

TeamCityis a proprietary commercial continuous integration tool from JetBrains.

Whilst TeamCity is quick and easy to setup it can be a pain to configure and maintain, especially compared to some of the other as-a-service continuous integration tools on this list. It is a highly flexible tool, with tonnes of integrations, which can also bring with it added complexity, so may not be the best option for teams that aren't highly refined.

The professional version of TeamCity is free for up to 20 build configurations and open source projects can apply for a free licence.

Codeship
© Codeship

Codeship

Codeshipoffers continuous integration tools as-a-service which can be set up in a matter of minutes if you are using Bitbucket or Github.

Codeship is a rebrand of Railsonfire, which was founded in 2010 by founders Moritz Plassnig, Manuel Weiss, and Florian Motlik for Rails developers looking for continuous integration software that wasn't Jenkins. The company got its first customer in 2012 and subsequently moved to Boston and rebranded.

Codeship is generally well reviewed over at G2 Crowd, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, with many customers praising the vendor for its setup speed and responsive support across channels. The free tier is limited to 100 builds per month however.

CruiseControl
© CruiseControl

CruiseControl

One of the oldest continuous integration tools is CruiseControl, which started life as an internal project at ThoughtWorks more than fifteen years ago.

It has since struck out on its own on an open source licence, and has a whole host of integrations out of the box.

Travis
© Travis

Travis

Open source continuous integration testing tool Travis CI was born out of Germany in 2011 to automate testing for projects hosted on GitHub.

Travis can be configured to run tests on both master developing branches as well as feature branches and even Pull Requests. Travis is limited to just GitHub repositories however.

GitLab CI/CD
© GitLab

GitLab CI/CD

Open source GitLab CI/CD can be run either as-a-service or behind your enterprise firewall on-premise or in a private cloud. It is multi-platform and multi-language and can scale automatically.

GitLab CI is part of the GitLab code-hosting platform, which means it naturally integrates well with projects there, allowing users to set up testing easily. Testing is run concurrently on GitLab Runner.

Both CI and CD are included with both the open source GitLab Community Edition and the proprietary GitLab Enterprise Edition.

ThoughtWorks Snap

ThoughtWorks Snap

ThoughtWorks Snaphas been built specifically for cloud-based continuous integration and delivery, aimed at teams working exclusively in the cloud who don't want to manage any infrastructure.

Pipelines can be set up from cloud platforms including Amazon Web Services, Heroku and GitHub. Snap is free for use with public repositories on GitHub but will cost you if used with private repositories.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.