DevOps Automation and Best Tools (Including free trial links!)

DevOps is a term used to describe combining software development teams (comprised of software developers, and quality assurance engineers) with IT operations teams (made up of system engineers, and network administrators). The entire DevOps philosophy is about encouraging collaboration between development staff and IT operations to speed up the product delivery pipeline.

Closer collaboration between software development and IT operations teams allows companies to create and refine software products much faster than in a silo environment. DevOps has become popular because it enables these teams to communicate on project changes and reduces the cost of development.

If you are short on time, here is our list of the Best DevOps Automation Tools:

  1. Red Hat Ansible Tower A work scheduling application with live performance graphs and goal notifications.
  2. Chef Infra An automated configuration manager and patch installer.
  3. Terraform This platform enables you to plan and manage infrastructure through codable workflow screens.
  4. Puppet An infrastructure management platform with coded workflow automation.
  5. New Relic One A centralized performance monitor for devices, applications, and services.
  6. RedGate SQL Toolbelt A database creation, development, management, and monitoring tool for SQL Server.
  7. SonarQube A program code verifier that spots bugs and schedules revisions and releases. Available in free and paid versions.

Once DevOps merged the disparate worlds of development and operations, automation became a top priority for many organizations. But first, let’s take a closer look at what DevOps is and why automation is important.

Why is Automation Important?

For companies using DevOps, automation is essential because it eliminates manual tasks that slow down application delivery. An automated solution can automatically complete manual tasks that would usually be done by a human user. Automation thus enables technical staff to focus on other more important work in the DevOps workflow.

However, automation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. After all, you can’t automate everything! To use automation effectively, companies have to run an audit first. The audit identifies which processes can be automated. Identifying potential use cases for automation ahead of time helps to onboard new solutions smoothly.

The Best DevOps Automation Tools

DevOps raises many challenges, none more significant than trying to deliver software efficiently with minimal bugs. Automated solutions like the tools listed below are critical for enabling enterprises to deploy and test software.

1. Red Hat Ansible Tower

Red Hat Ansible Tower is an automation platform that is designed to help teams communicate. When using Red Hat Ansible you can view real-time job output version through a dashboard. Jobs can be scheduled to manage future projects.

To monitor jobs the user has a Job Status graph to monitor alongside supporting metrics such as Hosts, Failed Hosts, Inventories, Inventory Sync Failures, Projects, and Project Sync Failures. Having all of this information on hand makes it easy for multiple teams to monitor the progress of the DevOps pipeline.

With Ansible Tower Workflows you can create representations of complex processes. These workflows can chain together multiple playbooks and workflows depending on your requirements. For example, you can create a workflow that creates an application, deploys it, runs tests, and then automatically promotes those with successful results.

To ensure integration with your team Red Hat Ansible Tower has notifications. Notifications let you know when a job has been completed. Notifications can be sent through email, SMS, Slack, Hipchat, PagerDuty, and more. These notifications make sure that your team is always updated on workflow progress.

There are two versions of Red Hat Ansible Tower available to purchase: Standard and Premium. The Standard version comes with 8-to-5 support. The Premium Version has 24/7 support. To view the price for either version you will have to contact the company directly for a quote. You can download the free trial.

2. Chef Infra

Chef Infra is an infrastructure automation tool that automates configuration management and deployment. Configurations can be updated automatically based on the environment or hardware. There is also a patch management capability so that teams can patch infrastructure remotely.
Interaction with Chef Infra takes place through the Chef automation language, which is easy to write so even inexperienced users can start creating their own commands and automating manual tasks.

There are two main Chef Infra packages available: Effortless Infrastructure and Enterprise Automation Stack. The Effortless Infrastructure version comes in two versions: Essentials, and Enterprise. The Essentials version supports 100 nodes and 100 targets for $16,500 (£12,706) per year. The Enterprise version supports 500 nodes and 500 targets for $75,000 (£57,758) per year.

The Enterprise Automation Stack also comes in two versions: Essentials and Enterprise. The Essentials version starts at 100 nodes with 100 targets and 100 service instances for $35,000 (£26,954) per year. The Enterprise version includes 500 nodes, 500 targets, and 500 service instances for $150,000 (£115,517) per year. You can try Chef Infra for free.

3. Terraform

Terraform is a solution that allows you to write infrastructure as code and manage your infrastructure and IT services. You can write configuration files and share them with others to collaborate. There is also the ability to automate provisioning and create new resources for your team. Resource dependencies are mapped so the user can identify exactly how infrastructure changes protect normal processes.

There are many features that support the automation of workflows with Terraform. For example, there is VCS integration with GitHub, BitBucket, and GitLab to help manage source code changes more efficiently. There are also notifications to notify the user about run events. Notifications can be sent through Slack or webhooks, which is ideal for remote teams.

There are three versions of Terraform available to purchase: Free, Team, and Governance. The Free version supports up to five users and offers features like VCS integration and remote operations.

The Team version costs $20 (£15.40) per user per month with team management and role-based access control. The Governance version costs $70 (£53.91) per user per month with the Sentinel Policy as Code framework and cost estimation features. You can sign up here.

4. Puppet

Puppet is a solution designed to automate the delivery of infrastructure and applications. The software enables you to manage infrastructure as code so your team can configure and deploy services more efficiently. There is an automated configuration so you can keep your environment updated constantly.

The product also offers automatic provisioning, which you can configure to automatically provision machines based on the policies you define and deploys the necessary OS or hypervisor. Provisioning in this way speeds up deployment so you can deploy services faster with less manual legwork.

To help speed up your operations there are Puppet Forge modules. These modules are designed to automate everything from Apache Web servers to docker containers and DNS. There are over 5,000 Puppet Forge modules so you have plenty of options you can use to control your infrastructure.

If you’re looking for a tool that simplifies infrastructure management then Puppet is an excellent choice. Puppet is free for up to 10 nodes. If you require more than 10 nodes then you will need to contact the company directly for a quote. You can get the free version here.

5. New Relic One

New Relic One is a performance monitoring solution that provides top-down visibility over services like devices, applications, and microservices. The tool collects data from entities and displays them with visualization. For example, you can view graphs of Error Rate by App and Total Requests by App to measure application performance.

With over 220 integrations available for New Relic One, the software can fit in almost any environment. There is integration available for Elasticsearch, AWS, Google Cloud, Amazon SQS, MongoDB, Oracle, Postgres, RedHat OpenShift, MSSQL, Apache, NGINX, MySQL, and more.

When it comes to resolving incidents, the New Relic AI helps to find the root cause by collecting and prioritizing event data in one pane of glass. The tool will also issue alerts when a human user needs to interact.

You can even respond from inside an external incident management tool like PagerDuty, making it easy to resolve issues quickly. Notifications can be viewed on Slack, Campfire, HipChat, OpsGenie, VictorOps, and more.

There are two versions of New Relic available to purchase: Essentials and Pro. The Pro version starts at $1.20 (£0.92) per month, per instance with additional integrations. The Essentials version starts at $0.60 (£0.46) per month per instance and doesn’t support integrations. You can request a demo.

6. Redgate SQL Toolbelt

Redgate SQL Toolbelt is a SQL server development and deployment management tool that can be used to deploy and monitor SQL servers. SQL Change Automation automates database delivery, building, and testing while providing instant feedback on code changes. You can even write tests for databases. The SQL change automation feature is advantageous because it allows you to check code changes more efficiently. There is also integration with Visual Studio Team Services and Octopus Deploy.

SQL Compare Pro and SQL Data Compare Pro can also sync different databases together. You can enter the changes you want to deploy and then use a script to deploy your modifications. The comparison feature helps centralize database management.

To help you catch bugs early on, there is a feature called the SQL Data Generator. SQL Data Generator collects data from load testing and integration tests. You can work through the command line in Python to generate additional data. There are over 60 built-in generators available out-of-the-box.

There are two versions of Redgate SQL Toolbelt available to purchase: SQL Toolbelt Essentials, and SQL Toolbelt. SQL Toolbelt Essentials costs $1,985 (£1,528) per license with 11 SQL server tools included. SQL Toolbelt costs $3,495 (£2,691) per license and comes with 14 SQL server tools. You can download the 14-day free trial.

7. SonarQube

SonarQube is a continuous inspection tool that scans code. To monitor the code, the software uses thousands of unique Static Code Analysis rules to get your code ready for release. The software can detect bugs and vulnerabilities so the user can find a solution. One of the main features is The Quality Gate, which tells the user whether an application passes the criteria for release (which supports the larger QA process).

The product supports over 25 programming languages including Java, JavaScript, C#, C/C++, PHP, Python, and more. The diverse range of programming languages means it is compatible with many types of applications. However, if you require more then you can use plugins to add more languages to the mix (there are over 60 plugins available to use).

There are four versions of SonarQube available: Community, Developer, Enterprise, and Data Center. The Community version is free and open-sourced with code analysis for 15 languages and bug detection. The Developer edition starts at $150 (£115) and includes everything in the community edition plus support for C, C++, Swift, PL/SQL support and more.

The Enterprise edition starts at $20,000 (£15,402) and includes security reports and portfolio management. The Data Center Edition starts at $130,000 (£100,115) and has extra features like component redundancy and horizontal scalability. You can download SonarQube for free.

DevOps Automation Makes You More Efficient

Without automation, the workload of engineers and developers becomes unmanageable very quickly. Incorporating automated tools like Red Hat Ansible Tower, Chef Infra, and Terraform into your technology stack reduces your team’s workload and makes them more efficient.

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