Any given DevOps lifecycle can be incredibly complex, and it’s often difficult to fully tighten up your process without excellent tools.
While there are dozens of DevOps tools built for every part of the DevOps lifecycle, only some of them are fully modifiable and adjustable to your current and future needs. Open source DevOps tools offer the same functionality and versatility as other tools, but these particular ones are the best in the industry.
Since they’re open source, any development team worth their salt can adjust the tools’ codes as needed to make changes, add plug-ins or proprietary functions, and otherwise tailor the tools exactly to their needs.
With the nine best open source DevOps tools, your development teams will produce, integrate, deploy, and monitor new systems and apps with better efficiency and stability. Let’s check out these top tools now.
What is DevOps?
Let’s break down exactly what DevOps is before we get into the best DevOps tools for it. DevOps is a casual term for the combination of Development and Operations – in a nutshell, DevOps means having a single team manage the development and operation of an application/software/system across its entire lifecycle, from its earliest development to its actual deployment and operation.
DevOps as a concept means that a team can bring a system or application out more quickly (shortening the development lifecycle), as well as update or repair the system or application with more agility to align with business objectives or changing industry needs.
It’s easiest to think of DevOps as a technique or practice for developing software. When using a “DevOps” approach, you’ll create better, more targeted software or applications and produce better results for your client or enterprise.
To actually engage in DevOps practices, you need special tools that allow you to develop, alter, repair, maintain, or update systems and software rapidly and accurately. There are plenty of open source tools for DevOps available.
"Open source" means that the core code of the tool or software in question is available for analysis or modification – skilled programmers and developers can exploit this to alter open source DevOps tools to better suit their unique needs.
Companies and enterprises are investing more into DevOps tools in this day and age since applications and software more often need to be modified or updated throughout their entire lifecycle. Having the tools to get this done yourself or within your own team means you don’t have to hire outside contractors and can complete any DevOps modifications or development requirements more quickly.
The DevOps lifecycle can be broken down into five distinct stages. With a full DevOps routine or workflow, you’ll be performing all five of these stages relatively simultaneously or continuously. With DevOps, there’s no real “end” to work, since you’re constantly updating and improving a system or application for better performance.
The stages are:
- Development – this includes coding or making the software in question. Planning is also included in this stage, and code can be written in any language depending on your needs or team’s skills. There are plenty of DevOps tools that help with coding.
- Testing – this phase involves testing any developed software for bugs. DevOps tools for quality assurance and other testing needs are common for this phase.
- Integration – during integration, your DevOps team will implement changes to a system or application’s source code on a daily or weekly basis. This is the core piece of the entire DevOps lifecycle, and there are plenty of DevOps tools for this.
- Deployment – during this phase, your team will roll out the system or software to be deployed with your greater enterprise/network. At the same time, your DevOps team will be building, testing, and implementing new code or aspects of the software to improve its functionality.
- Monitoring – this is the last phase of the DevOps lifecycle and involves checking the new software or system for any issues and correcting problems as they arise. Once a problem is detected, the DevOps team goes back to the beginning of the cycle to develop new solutions or alterations.
The DevOps cycle continues until you and your team are satisfied with the quality of the product or application in question. In many cases, it will never cease so you’re always seeking greater performance.
Best Open Source DevOps Tools for 2020
Naturally, the best DevOps tools for you depend on your unique needs and what your team already has in their kits. Keep in mind that each tool has a specific purpose, but many of these tools can also be combined together for fantastic results.
Tool #1 – Jenkins
Jenkins is perhaps the best DevOps open source tool, bar none, since it’s the top tool for integrating with many of the others on this list. In this way, Jenkins works as a functional pipeline for your software deliveries – connect tons of other tools to Jenkins and you’ll have a complete, automatable tool ecosystem at your disposal.
How many plug-ins work with Jenkins? You’re looking at over 1000 in total. Jenkins is, thus, a perfect fit for a majority of software development teams and enterprises with their own tool preferences or plug-in quirks.
At its core, Jenkins is a CI/CD server and includes tons of smaller automation tools for DevOps. With Jenkins, even small teams can hit big delivery windows. Furthermore, Jenkins is particularly easy to install and is configurable through a web interface. The interface, too, is simplistic and uncluttered.
Tool #2 – Docker
Docker is another famous open source DevOps tool. It’s a container tool that makes distributed development easy and intuitive for larger teams and can automate work after deployment like you’d never believe. It does this by isolating different applications into different digital “containers” for better security and portability.
Even better, Docker containers can be used by everyone regardless of OS or platform, and even with virtual machines. Docker is also very easy to integrate with tools like Jenkins – in this example, you can automate your deployment using the containerization features from Docker for truly hands-off deployment of apps or software updates.
It’s also a great choice for cloud computing, and especially for cloud migration due to the aforementioned focus on containerization and portability.
Tool #3 – Git
Git (you might have heard more about GitHub) is an incredibly popular DevOps tool and is a source code management tool, so it’s perfect for remote teams or teams with wide contributors.
It’s also an ideal tool for experimentation since it’s easy to create new branches and merge different features as you get further along your app-testing pipeline.
Git works with GitHub and Bitbucket hosting services, and both come with good advantages. For instance, GitHub offers free access to public repositories, while Bitbucket adds additional free unlimited private repositories for teams of up to five members.
Either way, both are easy to integrate with other tools and plug-ins and can be integrated with messaging software like Slack. Since it was developed by and for Linux users, consider using Git if your team uses Linux, as well.
Tool #4 – Ansible
Taking its name from an old science-fiction concept, Ansible is a configuration management and open source deployment tool similar to Chef (more on that below).
It’s perfect for configuring your enterprise’s infrastructure and automating certain deployment tasks.
It’s particularly well known for its ease-of-use and intuitive interface, and for its agentless architecture.
Agentless architecture, in this sense, means that no agents/daemons or automated bots run in the background, making Ansible a lightweight and secure DevOps solution for configuring your management automation. It also includes several modules for customization and integration with other DevOps tools. You can easily deploy Ansible code within a standard Jenkins pipeline, for instance.
Tool #5 – Nagios
Nagios is another free open source DevOps tool, and it’s used for monitoring your infrastructure – thus, it’s a key tool for the monitoring section of the lifecycle described above.
It’s easy to keep records of various events and failures using Nagios, especially since it provides various reports and graphs for teams’ ease of understanding.
It also works very well with a variety of plug-ins, many of which can be purchased for free thanks to the community that has grown up around the tool.
There are four distinct aspects to Nagios: Core, which monitors your command line and offers other basic functionalities, XI, which has a web-based GUI and a monitoring wizard, Log Server, which monitors and allows you to search through log data and set up alerts, and Fusion, which lets you monitor multiple networks all at once.
All in all, it’s a holistic and dense tool that will take a little getting used to for newer teams. But its value cannot be understated, particularly for larger pipelines with a lot of projects that may have a variety of bugs to catch or monitor for.
Tool #6 – Monit
Monit is a very simple open source DevOps tool, and all it does is make sure that specified processes on a particular machine are running correctly. An example: some service stops running in Apache, so Monit will immediately take charge and attempt to restart that particular process.
This takes away some of the busywork for your monitoring teams (near the end of your DevOps lifecycle) and allows them to focus on other efforts.
Monit is particularly easy to set up and configure and can be used microservices and multiservice architecture. It keeps detailed records and log files so you can double-check and make sure that you catch every alert or event of note. This is also great if your team wants to personally oversee what went wrong to offer the development team more notes for future improvements.
Tool #7 – Terraform
Terraform is an excellent open source DevOps tool for altering or configuring infrastructure as code. It supports a variety of formats like CGP, Azure, AWS, Digital Open, and more thanks to its declarative language, and it can help you modify underlying infrastructure without too much effort.
Load balancers, EC2 instances, and networking can all be configured using this one tool.
While it can’t configure software running on the infrastructure at the same time, it’s an ideal open source DevOps tool for cracking open the foundation of underlying systems and making sweeping changes you can then examine and deploy when reading.
Thanks to intuitive user interface and versatility, it’s also acceptable for plugging into different development tools and pipeline systems like Jenkins. Combine it with your favorite third-party plug-ins for even more use.
Tool #8 – Chef
We really like Chef since it allows you to manage cloud and traditional (on-site) environments with the same tool, lowering the time your team needs to learn separate tools or switch between them.
This also means Chef is a great tool if you’re team or development squad is moving from on-site architecture to cloud architecture over time – you can use Chef to accelerate cloud migration across the board.
It offers a full development kit you can use to create excellent systems and software, plus testing tools so you can examine your infrastructure automation code before you deploy those changes across a network. It also offers additional technical resources and documentation to help you learn the limits of the tool and scale different implementations of your DevOps pipeline to cloud networks.
Tool #9 – Consul.io
This last open source DevOps tool is a perfect fit for microservice applications, and especially for service discovery and configuration.
It can create internal DNS names for various microservices, meaning it’s an ideal tool if you need to sign in register dozens or hundreds of names for smaller services across a larger network or software system.
This, in turn, will help you access different service names instead of having to dig through machine titles. You can even bunch up different services into clusters for easier organization. Consul.io isn’t the broadest open source DevOps on the market, but it does provide some specific advantages that should make it a staple choice for a variety of development pipelines and teams.
Which of These Open Source DevOps Tools Are Right for You?
Ultimately, any of these tools might be a great fit for your development team or enterprise. We’d wholeheartedly recommend all of them, especially since most of them can integrate quite nicely with each other. Give them each a shot and you’ll find that your development lifecycle is faster and more efficient than ever before.