Tough DevOps Tools. How to Choose and Optimize DevOps Tools

The split between software development, quality assurance, and information technology operations teams generated a lot of complications during the software production process in the past. That is when the idea of implementing DevOps methodology, also known as DevOps transformation, emerged. Based on Agile methodology, DevOps is considered a certain approach that unites the key teams involved in software product delivery. The term “DevOps” has many definitions but it’s hard to deny that DevOps is mostly about continuity and automation of the software production processes and DevOps tools can help teams with that. Therefore, here we will discuss the main DevOps tools for each phase of the software production cycle, how to choose DevOps tools considering your organization’s specifications,s and how to optimize them.

Benefits of DevOps and How it Works

The importance of DevOps for business cannot be underestimated. According to The 2020 DevOps Trends Survey, 500 developers and IT specialists (99%) admitted that DevOps greatly improved their performance. What are the benefits of DevOps:
1. Partnership and loyalty. DevOps helps develop systems thinking in teams that will definitely unite them in one seamless workflow.
2. Fast product release. DevOps tools automate all the processes that help boost output and deliver first-rate software more frequently.
3. Unexpected task management. Unplanned tasks always appear in the process of product creation and release. DevOps helps with the process of prioritizing tasks so that IT teams have time to deal with unplanned tasks while working on planned ones.

IT leaders should know how the DevOps lifecycle works. The DevOps lifecycle consists of 7 phases:

1. Ongoing planning. Team leads, PMs and teams work on plans to establish resources, timeframes, outcomes, and so on;
2. Synergic development and building. Teams start programming and coding;
3. Unbroken testing. Dev and QA teams work on product testing and fixing bugs that increase its quality and speed up its release;
4. Non-stop release and deployment. When CI/CD pipelines are set up, and the product delivery is automated, bugs and errors are fixed fast.
5. Unbroken tracking and monitoring. It’s very important to support the software after release and monitor all the changes.
6. Sincere feedback from customers. Receiving honest feedback from customers is very important. When teams get the performance reports they take immediate actions to correct the errors or improve the performance of the product;
7. Ongoing optimization. It is great when teams constantly work on product improvement and process optimization.

Best DevOps Tools

DevOps Tools help automate the software production process chain using the building, testing, deploying and releasing features that make it much easier by bringing in a new flow across the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Propper DevOps Tools, correctly optimized, can help IT organizations with:
fast development;
reinforced operational efficiency;
swift release;
smooth continuous integration and continuous delivery;
frequent deployment;
rapid recovery time;
elevated collaboration.

Here are the main DevOps tools:

How to Choose and Optimize DevOps Tools

Although DevOps tools alone cannot plan, build and deliver, they perform a crucial role in improving the software product development, testing and deployment processes. Right DevOps tools, when optimized, accelerate the release time, reduce  the number of errors/bugs and cut expenses. Every IT organization has exceptional characteristics, requirements and structure. With that in mind, the DevOps tools may differ. At the same time, we can distinguish some determinants that can instruct what tools can be utilized for a particular organization.
What to consider when choosing DevOps tools

When IT leaders decide what DevOps tool to choose they should answer the following questions first:

What is the environment?  Is it cloud, local or hybrid?
What is the type of project, its main objectives?
How well do these tools integrate with other tools?
How complex are the tools?
What are the skill requirements?
How long is the learning curve?
What are the requirements and quality prospects?
Are they open-source or premium?
How much is it?
The DevOps tool, when chosen correctly, makes a tangible effect and it doesn’t require many contributions from the organization beyond its ability. Try to avoid tools that can only work within their environment, favoring the tools able to integrate well with others. Moreover, the tool should be easily replaceable.

How to identify a good DevOps tool

DevOps tools for teamwork. Non-stop communication between software production teams is what DevOps is all about. Having that in mind, chat tools that enable comfortable problem-solving interaction between the teams should be carefully picked by IT leaders. The main features of these tools are user-friendliness, private and group messaging, audio conferencing, video chats and many others. The majority of chat tools have specially constructed rooms where different specialists can access and deal with issues faster.
DevOps tools for project management and planning. These planning tools help IT leaders schedule what software products and new features to write, set up and track progress from the designing up to the software release. At the beginning of each sprint teams discuss the future features, share ideas and create a plan. Planning tools help with task management, task prioritizing, process scheduling, team calendar setting up and sharing, progress and time tracking, documentation and reporting. Good planning tools are able to pick users’ feedback.
Additionally, a first-rate planning tool integrates well with other tools. We can recommend tools like Confluence, Jira, Redmine, and Trello that help achieve a seamless and efficient project management cycle.
DevOps tools for building and testing. These tools are used to automate the building process and help with the checkout of the source code. Then they approve it or send it for rework if something is wrong. After the review code has to be merged into the master branch and then tested. Good building tools should be able to run arbitrary commands, transfer outcomes from one command to another, be able to fuse your hand-written files with automatically generated ones and many more. A great idea for organizations in developing software is to enlarge it to the infrastructure. The Infrastructure-as-Code tools enable teams to catch up with a rapidly changing environment. For instance, Docker containers ensure delivering pre-configured software ecosystems as many times as needed. And the Infrastructure-as-Code principle can be easily implemented with the help of Kubernetes, Terraform, Chef, Ansible and Puppet DevOps tools.
DevOps tools for testing, CI/CD. Ideally, these tools are able to roll back the process the moment an error takes place and immediately notify the related teams for them to debug it. Good CI/CD tools are easy to use, able to maintain parallel tests and to script in different languages. Additionally, an ideal CI/CD tool is able to apply tests to the several branches and advance to master if everything is fine. Moreover, it is great if the tool can consolidate well with the chat tool to provide alerts to the teams. We can recommend Jenkins, CircleCI or Gitlab CI to minimize the time and effort spent on testing without compromising the code quality or user experience.
DevOps tools for monitoring and continuous feedback. Monitoring tools track the software when in use to ensure that users are satisfied with its functioning. Good monitoring tools continuously track the software behavior and log the results. If issues take place, the tools alarm the teams for them to resolve the issues as fast as possible. Prometheus, Grafana, ELK Stack, Splunk and Sumo Logic involve performance analysis and logging, raise smart alerts on various issues and gather customer feedback on the new features.

How to optimize DevOps tools

The majority of the DevOps tools are used to cover certain SDLC phases and handle definite areas. And it means that tools that are used for collecting users’ feedback cannot be used for building. That is why a lot of companies are swamped with DevOps tools options and end up gaining a myriad of tools to cover all the DevOps cycle phases. Although it might seem a smart plan, the best solution is to deal with a minimal kit of tools. To optimize DevOps tools we recommend:
1. avoiding tool-clones and extra licensing expenses;
2. avoiding of merging large numbers of tools into the system;
3. turning to DevOps leaders, the companies that already successfully practice DevOp and can provide DevOps consulting services.

Wrapping Things Up

Every IT organization has taken at least a couple of steps to transform its software production practices in pursuit of DevOps principles. The transformation process comes with an evident risk, though. Agile and automated processes implementation demands an expansive DevOps toolkit. However, instead of adopting some DevOps tools that increase product release efficiency, IT leaders face a tool sprawl problem. IT tool sprawl is a challenge that can be solved by mature DevOps leaders, companies that already practice DevOps methodology. These companies will provide real-time recommendations based on your organization’s specific needs and goals that will solve the DevOps tool sprawl problem resulting in saving money now and releasing an exceptional software production methodology for many years to come.

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