The best 10 open-source tools for DevOps automation
DevOps provides a revolutionary framework to develop software. Combined with open-source tools, it can be a powerful mix. Today: the best 10 open-source tools for DevOps automation.
We have already discussed the meaning of open source. Today we are focusing on the best 10 open-source tools for DevOps automation. These tools were chosen by our developers, who are constantly facing new challenges in the software development world. As a software factory, we prefer open-source programs as we believe in their effectiveness in the long run.
As we have seen in another post, DevOps culture provides a revolutionary framework to develop software. This approach, combined with open-source tools, can be a powerful mix that breeds excellent software. Without further ado, here are our top 10 open-source tools for DevOps automation.
GitLab is an open-source web-based DevOps lifecycle tool. It provides a Git-repository manager that, among other things, has features such as issue tracking, continuous integrations, a wiki, and a deployment pipeline. Not fully open source, GitLab uses an open-core model, where basic functions are open while extra functionality is proprietary.
The GitLab pillars are a single source of truth, real-time security, and continuous everything—integration, development, delivery...you name it. In this way, GitLab helps by increasing build speed, decreasing complexity, and augmenting innovation.
“Where the world builds software.” If you are passionate about software, you are probably familiar with GitHub, and the giant does not need a long introduction. Thanks to it, millions of developers can build, manage, and ship their software. GitHub now reigns unchallenged as a development platform with its attractive features and easy-to-use UI. Among the services provided by GitHub, we find web hosting and version control in conjunction with Git.
With a free basic version and its open-source friendliness, GitHub has become a must-know tool for developers and a needed service for most technology-related businesses. If it’s open source, it’s probably there.
Kubernetes, the one with the weird name, is an open-source container orchestration tool for automating deployment, scaling, and management. It was born out of Google and is now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. Also referred to as K8s, Kubernetes is needed for apps packaged with various containers as it eases isolation and packaging of clusters logically for easy deployment. Thanks to Kubernetes, you can create Docker containers automatically, providing much-needed scalability. If you are not familiar with Docker, scroll a few paragraphs below.
SonarQube is an open-source platform for continuous inspection of code quality. This automation tool provides reviews with static analysis of code detecting bugs, security vulnerabilities, and code smells. SonarQube is designed to meet enterprise requirements and provide easy management of code quality and security at a business scale. Thanks to it, detecting security vulnerabilities can be automated. SonarQube promises to catch bugs, code smells, and technical debt in 27 different languages. That’s coding languages.
CircleCI is a continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) platform that allows engineering teams to build and deploy software. The team can validate code changes by connecting to a version control system like GitHub. With this, you get total control over your pipelines, plus you gain the ability to define de CI and CD processes. You can use workflows to set how and when jobs run in order to optimize them. With its features, CircleCI offers an injection of reliability and speed to your development process.
Created to monitor highly dynamic container environments like Kubernetes, Prometheus is an open-source monitoring software released in 2012 that can be also used in traditional servers. It has become the mainstream monitoring tool of choice in container and microservices infrastructure. As DevOps becomes increasingly more complex, Prometheus brings an automated monitoring tool to the table. By keeping this software running, you can constantly monitor all the services you are responsible for. It will alert you if any of them crashes, and you can set warnings to identify problems before they break out.
Monitoring has become essential in human activities, and software development follows that trend. Most people know that it’s preferable to prevent a fire than putting it out—an automated tool like Prometheus lets you do exactly that. If you want an in-depth explanation you can check the video in the sources below.
Ansible is a mass SSH deployment language that is very easy to approach. It is a leading open-source tool for software deployment, provision, and configuration management that allows you to build code infrastructure. It was acquired by Red Hat for no less than $150M, an extraordinary figure for an automation startup. Ansible has then become a renowned DevOps tool as it simplifies software development automation across the complete lifecycle.
ELK stack is actually a combination of three open-source tools: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. This mix provides the perfect tools for log management, allowing the Ops specialist to gather logs and search through them. While Logstash and Elasticsearch perform the work behind the scenes, Kibana coronates this combination by providing a sleek data visualization tool that supplies easy-to-read reports and real-time summaries of streaming data.
Even if log monitoring doesn’t look cool, ELK is essential here. It analyzes them while creating infrastructure visualization and application monitoring, security analytics, and troubleshooting. Each third of this triforce provides particular benefits.
Elasticsearch is an open-source search engine based on the Lucene library and built on the Apache License. It provides a full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface, and it’s developed in Java.
Logstash, also open source, provides a tool to gather data from different sources, modify it and then send it to where you want. It lets you manage events and logs while also collecting, processing, storing, and searching activities.
Kibana provides the data exploration and visualization needed to review such logs and events. Within its open-source base, it offers interactive pre-built filters and aggregations.
Docker is a software development platform plus a sort of virtualization technology that lets you run apps no matter where they are. Docker provides a modular system for environment building, and each container is a neat package with everything you need to run it: system libraries, runtime environment, product code. Containers usually run one specific task and can be updated independently, giving you much-needed versatility.
Docker looks like a virtual machine but uses only needed dependencies to ease and speed up the process. Software developers can leverage Docker for team collaboration by eliminating configuration and compatibility issues. As a DevOps tool, Docker provides a stable and unified software environment across the whole development loop. Developers and operation teams can run, test and deploy with ease thanks to using Docker images. It also provides integration with other DevOps open-source software such as CircleCI, GitHub, and more.
Jenkins is an open-source and free server used for automating software development processes, including CI/CD, building, deploying, and testing. With an extensive plugin base, Jenkins can be easily integrated with many CI/CD tools such as Maven, Amazon, or Git. Being a self-contained program in Java, Jenkins works in most operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows. Its easy configuration and extension allow for error verification and to help you expand its functionality. Jenkins is probably one of the most popular CI tools available.
What is automation
Automation is a loosely defined term, but most people think of robots or all-powerful algorithms. According to its definition, automation is a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes, from the automatic setting of temperature by your thermostat at home to the regulation of nuclear plant heat inside the reactor.
As CGP Grey points out in Humans Need Not Apply, we have gone from everyone needing to make food to almost no one. Humans are smartly lazy: we will probably always figure out how to improve our wellbeing and diminish our work effort by bringing new tools to the table. You might think that this concerns only physical labor, but the services and software spheres do not get a free pass.
Automation has been around for decades but seems to have taken a different path this time. That is the argument proposed by In a Nutshell on The Rise of the Machines. Automation no longer means big and kind of stupid machines doing menial physical work. With an increased understanding of complex tasks, many engineers and developers find narrowly defined and repetitive tasks in many human activities, and you probably got it already; narrowly defined and repetitive tasks are what automation feeds on.
Does this mean that automation will replace humans in the software industry? We remain skeptical about it. It may be to swim against the current, but, as with many innovations, new problems arise from the creation of new technologies. We know that big tech companies don't employ as many people as their counterparts did a century ago. But we believe that with every new technology, new problems arise: you will always need people dealing with those.
Automation vs. orchestration
We have already discussed automation, but how does it relate to orchestration? Are they the same? Is automation vs. orchestration actually a versus question?
As I said, automation means completing a task without human intervention. When well planned out, automation saves time, makes labor easy, and frees workers to perform other tasks. Especially in IT and software development, automation can provide a more efficient and reliable product or service on the market. The scope of automation is not clear to this day, as the impact of new technologies is very ill predicted in the long run. We might be heading for a jobless world, but we are skeptical about it. Futurology is not our line of work.
On the other hand, Orchestration consists of managing a large-scale virtual environment or network. Orchestration works on a higher level as it encompasses many complex systems and services by managing many automated tasks. If you have paid attention to the definition of automation, you will notice that it refers to a single task; compared with the broad implementation of orchestration that arranges a group of tasks to optimize a workflow.
Software factory and automation
If you know us, you are probably familiar with the software factory concept. If not, do not worry; I’ve got you covered. TL;DR? A software factory provides specialized and standardized software development. We take the same approach as Henry Ford or LeCorbusier; we study software development, and we find the problems that appear time and time again. Software factories see software as problem-solving machines, and we specialize in building them.
At Awkbit, we use the top 10 open-source tools for DevOps automation that I mentioned earlier and are constantly looking for new technologies. To remain at the spearhead of software development, we know it is essential to understand automation, orchestration, DevOps, and any other concept that pops into existence. Do you find it hard to be always up to date? Do you need assistance to set your DevOps tools?
Sources & further reading
- The Rise of the Machines – Why Automation is Different this Time
- Humans Need Not Apply
- How Prometheus Monitoring works | Prometheus Architecture explained
- Explore the 30 Best DevOps Tools to Look Out For in 2021
- Automation vs. Orchestration: What's the Difference?
- Put the Ops in DevOps: 43 open source tools