Software development companies have finally started to realize that to thrive in today’s competitive world, a business has to ensure connectivity and collaboration between their development and operations team. So they adopt DevOps practices that ensure a shorter software development life cycle, faster time-to-market, faster resolution of issues, and enhance overall quality of the product.

But for DevOps to deliver those results, it should be implemented effectively first. And for that, you need an efficient toolchain – a set of tools meant for proper implementation of DevOps. An organization can have more than one toolchain, and the toolchains would depend on the needs of the organization and the objectives of the DevOps ecosystem they are implementing.

No matter how qualified the DevOps team is or no matter how best it’s implemented, a DevOps environment cannot deliver on its promises if the right sets of tools aren’t involved to manage every step of a software development project – right from requirements specification and development to testing, delivery and maintenance.

That said, let’s take a look at a few of the best open source tools that are widely used for DevOps implementation.

Selenium

Selenium is hugely popular for its automation capabilities, and is primarily leveraged for the automation of web-based apps – both for testing and for performing administrative tasks. Selenium is a favorite of many companies including tech giants like Google and IBM.

Selenium allows:

  • Creation of browser-based regression automation tests and suites
  • Creation of multi-language test scripts
  • Usage of same script across many environments

Docker

Those who are familiar with DevOps might have heard of Docker – a container-based platform designed to support continuous integration and continuous deployment. This can be done across a number of infrastructures. Additionally, Docker also simplifies packaging of the final product.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Windows and Linux OS compatibility
  • Deployable on any application stack
  • Capability to deploy up to 20000 containers
  • End-to-end security

Chef

Chef is a cloud-based suite of tools aimed at ensuring and enhancing the stability and scalability of the infrastructure. It’s mainly used in DevOps ecosystems to create robust software development environments.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Capability to make configurations testable and automated
  • Consistent configuration assurance
  • Customizable codes depending on requirements
  • Easy migration
  • Compatibility with popular third-party platforms like AIX and FreeBSD

Jenkins

A very popular open source tool, Jenkins is one of the best continuous integration server software available in the market today. It’s deployed on the server that handles the software development activities. Written in Java, Jenkins is also known for being highly customizable regardless of the size and complexity of the project. Furthermore, there are a plethora of plugins and add-ons available making Jenkins a potent tool that delivers the best out of a DevOps environment. Big firms like Capgemini and LinkedIn use Jenkins.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Ease-of-use for DevOps beginners
  • Capability to create scripts that facilitate integration of multiple workflows into one pipeline
  • Support of over 1000 unique plugins
  • Multiple interfaces like CLI, Rest API, and web-based GUI

Puppet

Puppet is a great tool that is designed primarily for rapid inspection, management, and maintenance of infrastructure. It grew in popularity because of its capability to deploy changes within a short time. Puppet is also primarily preferred as a configuration management tool through the software development lifecycle regardless of the platform involved. Tech giants like Microsoft, Accenture, and Google reportedly use Puppet.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Complete infrastructure automation
  • Rapid deployment
  • Real-time context reporting
  • Conflict detection and resolution

Splunk

Splunk can be effective as a log comparison tool that allows the DevOps team to compare logs generated by multiple sources in a DevOps ecosystem that spans the complete IT infrastructure of an organization. In addition to collecting logs and facilitating comparison, Splunk also comes with powerful data collection and analyses capabilities; providing organizations with meaningful insights to make strategic decisions. Furthermore, it also helps with seamless IoT integration.

Key features and benefits of the multi-faceted Splunk include:

  • Storage, management, and analysis of data
  • Business analytics
  • Multiple data formats compatibility
  • Log monitoring to detect issues and conflicts

Ansible

This is a great tool for automating development, testing and deployment, and to manage software development operation’s performance in a DevOps ecosystem. Ansible comes with a number of modules that supports a wide variety of applications. But its truly great feature is its capability to significantly reduce complexity at all stages of the lifecycle.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Push configuration
  • Agentless configuration
  • Faster development process
  • Faster deployment
  • Easier management of complex deployments

Nagios

Nagios is more like a security guard that keeps watch over the entire system and infrastructure. With Nagios, the DevOps team can monitor databases, applications, networks, logs, and even protocols. Infrastructure issues won’t be a concern anymore with Nagios as they will likely be identified before the risks become threats. Despite being open source, Nagios is entirely secure, reliable, and highly recommended. Renowned companies like Philips, Airbnb etc. use Nagios.

Key features and benefits include:

  • Better monitoring, analysis, and threat detection of mission-critical network infrastructure
  • Management, analysis, and archival of log data
  • Network traffic monitoring
  • Optimized bandwidth utilization
  • Easy log searching
  • Automatic resolution of various issues post detection
  • Facilitates better infrastructure upgrade
  • Streamlines infrastructure maintenance schedules

Conclusion

This list is not a ranking. All 8 tools mentioned above are open source, and have a successful streak when it comes to helping organizations implement an efficient DevOps ecosystem. However, choosing the right set of tools, from this list and from among the many others available, is a different matter entirely. That depends on a number of factors including the teams involved, the infrastructure of the organization, the budget, and even the work culture.

Any DevOps expert would recommend adopting a toolchain that combines several potent features to set up a secure, thriving DevOps ecosystem. And obviously, expertise matters also when it comes to wielding such a toolchain.

If your organization is prepared to go the DevOps route, AOT can offer our expertise to ensure that you implement DevOps the right way. Get in touch with our experts today.


According to the dataset from Redmonk and Bitnami, about 30% of container deployments are in production environments.

The impact of the open source Docker on DevOps and virtualization is evident from how developers discuss the prospects all over the internet, and from its increased use in production environments of both SMBs and large-scale enterprises.

Last year, Datadog published a report on Docker adaption among their users, which showed a 30% increase in Docker adoption in just a single year. 

Docker’s growth momentum is still consistently rising, and along with the capability it gives developers to create, deploy, and run applications easier makes it a vital element in a DevOps ecosystem. Though DevOps pretty much covers the entire delivery pipeline, Docker optimizes the production environments.

Before Docker made a name for itself

Before Docker came into being, developers, testers and the ops team relied on a plethora of tools for configuration management. In addition, they had to deal with the complex integrations and other issues inevitably delaying the project not to mention making it more complex in most cases.

The team will have to make use of various environments that should be optimally aligned to meet the project’s goals. Achieving that alignment requires a lot of effort as well. Conclusively, development wasn’t efficient or fast then compared to how it is with Docker now.

The need for Docker arose primarily due to the evolution of application complexity over the years.

Relief for DevOps teams

Software developers in a DevOps environment are well aware of what Docker can do as a reliable environment for development. It allows the team to configure both development and test environments efficiently, subsequently resulting in successful release management.

With major cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services offering support to the open source container system, Docker allows DevOps teams to deploy to any platform without concern for the underlying complexities. Add to that an extensive collection of official language stacks and repositories from DockerHub, and they have one of the most powerful tools to get the job done quickly.

Ops teams can package an entire application as a Docker image without compromising the build version before it gets added to a central registry. They don’t have to individually deploy EXE and JAR files to the target environment. The Docker image can then be taken by the various environments (development, testing, production etc.) for final deployment.

While the developers are relieved from worrying about setting up and configuring specific development environments every time, the ops team or system administrators become capable of setting up environments (thanks to Docker) akin to a production server, allowing anyone to work on the project with the same settings. 

Docker’s role in DevOps

To begin with, let’s take Wikipedia’s definition of DevOps.

DevOps is a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.

That said, in such an environment, Docker finds its use both as a platform and as a tool. Developers can use it as a platform to run applications while the operations staff can use it as a tool to facilitate integration with the workflow.

With Docker as a platform, the developers can focus on building good quality code. Despite being isolated, Docker containers share the same kernel and OS files. This makes them lightweight and pretty fast; enough to make it one of the best ways to easily and efficiently build distributed systems by allowing applications to run on either a single machine or across many virtual machines. It comes with a cloud service to share applications and automate workflows.

Generally, once development and testing of an application are done, the ops team will take up the responsibility to deploy that app. Before Docker, this phase was quite challenging as issues that didn’t occur during development might show up, giving sleepless nights to the team. Docker eliminates this friction allowing the ops team to deploy the application seamlessly.

Docker-based pipeline in a DevOps environment considerably reduces risks associated with software delivery and deployment. In addition, it ensures timely delivery at a cheaper cost. It effectively unifies the DevOps community as well, supporting the use of popular provisioning and configuration tools like Chef, Ansible, and Puppet etc. From a technical standpoint, Docker facilitates seamless collaboration which is the core essence of a DevOps ecosystem.

The present state of Docker

With Jenkins, another open source tool, becoming more popular thanks to its efficiency in orchestrating complex workflows, developers have started exploring the results of combining it with Docker.

Docker, Inc. decided to invest in build automation last year, and the community behind Jenkins developed many plugins for effective Docker-Jenkins integration. This ended up expanding the capabilities of Docker at the hands of developers, allowing them to create and implement build pipelines on Docker.

Word soon got out, and now many startups have finally started seizing the opportunity to leverage the potential of Docker-based build automation.

CloudBees, one of the first companies, embraced Jenkins and Docker’s build automation to evolve from being just a PaaS player, by offering professional support and services for enterprises planning to adopt Jenkins and Docker.

Shippable, another company, adopted Docker for software build automation.

All these facts and more emphasize the dominating presence of Docker in today’s development realm whether it’s being used in a DevOps system of a simple, small startup or an enterprise with large teams.

Conclusion

According to Datadog’s report,

Docker adopters quintuple (5x) the container count within 9 months after initial deployment. 

Because it’s open source, it brings more perks to the table. Its ability to maintain consistency, productivity, and compatibility while providing reliable security and support for multi-cloud platforms in addition to major corporate backing makes Docker a valuable tool for companies putting their faith on DevOps.

With support from a huge and growing community, Docker will most likely be enhanced in the immediate future providing more out-of-the-box features and more integration choices.