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Best Devops Tools for an Effective Infrastructure Automation

The two strong pillars for any organization’s software development life cycle is Development and Operations teams. In today’s fast paced IT industry, fast software delivery is the main goal for any Enterprise that reduces the cost and improves the ROI as well.

To attain this, DevOps culture is endorsed in various business verticals for their effective collaboration between cross-functional teams. Choosing the relevant DevOps tools for automating any infrastructure requires a sound knowledge of the existing DevOps tools, it’s capabilities and the required DevOps strategies to implement them.

The Elements of Infrastructure automation

1. Configuration Management

“Configuration management simplifies the most complex business tasks into manageable process & strengthens the organizations agility”

Configuration management emphasis on the Devops’s key metrics namely continuous testing & continuous delivery. Configurance-as-a-code (CaaC) is a series of scripting codes within any given resource which are deployed to implement the Devops cycle.

Now automating the tedious tasks is made easier by embracing the best configuration Devops practises where the system-wide changes are adapted swiftly even in any dynamic circumstances.

2. Orchestration

“Orchestration is more of interconnecting the components & processes among heterogeneous systems across various locations”

orchestration

Just like a canoe race, where teamwork is the key to winning, Devops practices rely on effective coordination between cross-functional teams.

Orchestration streamlines and coordinates between the DevOps practises and the automation tools of any organization. These script-based infrastructure automation tools list, provides a set of commands that are deployed into the application.

Devops Engineers before deploying these commands should keep in mind a couple of things like few scenarios where these scripts will not work and the commands should be as comprehensive as possible.

3. Continuous Integration

“Fast Feedback is the key for implementing the continuous Integration process with integrated build & automated testing”

Through continuous integration, the developers write the code, perform unit test and commit the build to a server repository. However, the testing takes place simultaneously at both the feature level and the main branch level to identify any early bug defects with devops testing tools.

Also, within a day get frequent updates whenever a code is modified. This process helps in continuous DevOps process.

4. Monitoring

“Monitoring Your Application 24/7 in a secured and reliable environment”

Once built and deployed the appropriate code, monitoring them is the next stage. Monitoring the performance of the application comes under DevOps pipeline. There are several Application monitoring tools in DevOps namely Nagios, DataDog, Splunk and so on.

These processes are useful for streamling any mission-critical applications. It will monitor the network traffic, updates the maintenance schedules and fixes any issues automatically.

Devops tools for infrastructure automation

Devops Tools for Infrastructure Automation

In this section, let us look at the top Devops automation tools. Of course, Devops automation tools is only an integral part of the Devops strategy, to create a culture between the Dev and Ops, you need to follow a Devops implementation process to accelerate the delivery pipeline.

Infrastructure as a Code Tools


1. Ansible

Ansible

Ansible is a configuration management and orchestration tool. It helps to provide continuous integration and continuous delivery with zero downtime. With the help of this universal language, Ansible offers a simple, user-friendly IT automation that automates the network systems and supports a centralized deployment.

Uses of Ansible Tool:

  • Supports multi-tier deployments

  • No need any coding knowledge

  • Simple to Learn with easy flow of language

  • Gives insights about how systems are interrelated with each other

  • It provides a reliable and secure tool

Real-Time Example: NASA

Let’s look at a real-time example where they have utilized the Ansible effectively.

NASA planned to transfer 65 core applications from traditional data-center in to cloud AWS environment. But, due to lack of centralized management the entire process became cumbersome where even a simple patching took several days to implement.

To overcome these challenges, NASA adopted Ansible tool to make the process more streamlined with quick deployments and easy to use User interfaces.

Result:

  • Website updation (nasa.gov) reduced from 60 mins to 5 mins!

  • Security patching reduced drastically from multiple days to just 45 mins!!

2. Puppet

Puppet

Puppet is a ruby-based configuration tool with a lot of pre-built modules that helps to automate the infrastructure efficiently. It manages the infrastructure-as-a-code and the required configurations are automatically initiated.

Puppet is exclusively developed for System Administrators, with a puppet agent configured on all the server system. The server in turn extracts the compiled module and then instantly installs the software packages as per the module information.

Uses of Puppet Tool:

  • Provides effective collaboration between QA, Development & Operations Team led to transparency and faster deployments.

  • The task-based approach helped to build a high software quality with zero downtime.

  • Accurate & predictive workflows created a critical decision making and dynamic business operations.

Real-Time Example: Merrill Corporation

Merrill Corporation, a US-based IT services company, faced a challenge to migrate all of their critical data to the cloud environment in Microsoft Azure environment. The process was slow , inconsistent and unmanageable.

With implementing Puppet Enterprise, Merrill Corporation increased their overall efficiency with quicker deployments paving way to focus on larger business objectives.

Result:

  • Launched Datasiteone app, for companies undergoing merging process

  • Quicker deployments with minimal error

  • Attained Global reach with Azure environment deployment

3. Chef

Chef

Chef is one of the best cloud infrastructure automation tools. The basic function of Chef is the specific configuration of the centralized server is automatically updated to all the related nodes. This highly customizable tool gives the historical data that helps in project management processes.

ChefDK, the chef development kit, offers an additional efficiency testing tools. Chef workstation, chef server, node and Chef client are the important elements of Chef. For a developer team, Chef is the better choice or if your team are from System administration background then Puppet is right option.

Uses of Chef Tool:

  • Intelligent operations designs – used to alter only when there’s any deviation within a system

  • Easy, human-readable configuration policies

  • Reduces Operational expenses

Real-Time Example: Facebook

Before automation, Facebook found integrating each 10 k sized clusters nodes with their internal systems extremely impossible. But after the implementation of Chef, Facebook seamlessly automated the system configuration with massive scalability & without changing the workflow.

Result:

  • Effectively manages from few servers to tens of thousands of servers

  • Top-flight support, flexible automation solution leveraging scale dynamics

Continuous Integration/Deployment Tools


1. Jenkins

Jenkins

“To Build, Deploy and automate seamlessly”

Jenkins is a Java-based continuous integration tool, which is 100% customizable. Whether it’s a complex project or simple one, Jenkin provides many plug-ins & add-ons to simplify the process. Jenkins works closely with version control systems with GitHub, SVN & gets triggered & committed whenever Jenkins polls are configured.

Uses of Jenkins Tool:

  • Jenkins are easy to learn & implement due to its simple interface.

  • A single script is sufficient to integrate multiple workflows within a pipeline.

  • Every stakeholder are up-to-date with Jenkin’s notification feature.

  • Has over 1000+ pre-built plugins to use.

Real-Time Example: Bridge Solutions Group

Before Jenkins was implemented, the company was struggling to manage several developmental projects parallely due to the inefficiency of deployment methods & handling code base. After Jenkins, Bridge Solutions completed the project within 2 months including testing phase!

Result:

Jenkins built instant level code management with effective integration with Bitbucket
Improved development efficiency with the help of 1000+ plug-ins

2. Docker

Docker

Docker is a Continuous integration and deployment tool. Containerization technique helps to package the software across multiple business verticals conveniently that is built upon Linux.

Docker is the next level virtualization, where it’s one of the main jobs is to build process level virtualization . These do not have any dependencies on the Operating systems.

Uses of Docker Tool:

  • Supports both Windows and Linux OS

  • Docker Tool deploys upto 20,000 containers

  • Offers a complete end-end security

Real-Time Example: Societe Generale

SG is a reputed french MNC bank that has over thousands of applications migrated to the cloud platform through Docker Enterprise. The bank was struggling to move 80% of the application to cloud & reduce the expenses.
However, after implementing container technology, Docker moved 1000’s of applications to cloud based on microservices.

Result:

  • Handling 10 multi-tier applications – Production Stage & 50 + applications in Development seamlessly

  • Deployment occurs at massive scale

    Configuration / Secret Management Tools


    1. Consul

    Consul

    Consul is an open-source and important service-discovery tool, in which the primary reason to build this tool is to maintain the services of the distributed systems. Consul is built on Golang, which is a simple open-source programming language that is used to create simple & efficient software.

    Consul is used to save and store the real-time configurations. These tools are especially helpful for large-scale industries where there are huge distributed systems in the environment.

    Uses of Consul Tool:

    • Discover the services – All applications can use either HTTP or DNS to find their respective services.

    • Check Health Status – The components from service discovery are used to avoid the traffic from any unhealthy hosts.

    • Key/Value Store – Dynamic configuration, coordination leader election are some of the features which key/value store can be used.

    • Web User Interface – Consul provides one of the easy to use interfaces where they can manage all the features seamlessly.

    Real-Time Example: Thomson Reuters

    Thomson Reuters faced challenges to maintain hundreds of servers in multi-cloud environment extremely difficult, as they have a dynamic cloud infrastructure by shutting down a few modules and add new ones on the fly.

    Whereas, Consul genuinely blends service discovery along with health checking where it discovers only the healthy nodes which is a crucial factor.

    Result:

    • Support multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environments

    • No single point of failure by keeping the infrastructure up and running

    2. Etcd

    Etcd

    Etcd is an open-source distributed key or value store. It is used for Kubernetes, a Google’s container manager, where it store all kinds of data like configuration data, metadata, and also allowing any of the Kubernetes nodes to read and write the data.

    Etcd has many nice features like “watch for key value change”, get notification on key changes, excellent multi-platform support. As it is written Golang programming language, it has a simple interface using standard HTTP tools.

    Uses of Etcd Tool:

    • Etcd tool helps to Set, remove as well as update keys.

    • Checks on the Cluster health

    • Capturing snapshots of each database

    • Add or remove the Etc nodes

    Real-Time Example: Beam

    Beam provides an interactive live streams globally , which faced difficult to store and retrieve the hundreds and thousands of gaming videos that is compatible with all devices.

    Result:

    • Works seamlessly in cross platforms

    • Google’s container manager, Kubernetes helps to store massive volumes of data

    Continuous Monitoring Tools


    1. New Relic

    New Relic

    New Relic is a flexible, dynamic devops monitoring tool, with two subtypes namely, New Relic APM for application monitoring & New Relic Server for server monitoring respectively.

    It increases the performance of any web application drastically even when there’s huge traffic flow.

    Uses of New Relic Tool

    • Installation is not required as its a SaaS product.

    • Records & provides a graphical representation of customer errors

    • Simple and easy to use

    • Through load tests checks for scalability & allows to perform capacity analysis.

    Real-Time Example: Hearst

    Hearst is a US based digital media company, which faced challenges to keep the website up and running when it faced unusual traffic. This slowed down their performance to a great level.

    However, post New Relic implementation, it has not only improved the performance but also shows where the potential bottlenecks are present.

    Result:

    • Improved overall performance and time-to-market

    • Successfully consolidated from 100’s of data centers to just 3!

    2. Sensu

    Sensu

    Sensu Go is a simple, cloud-monitoring tool, that gives an in-depth view to containers, servers, applications, functions across any private or public cloud.

    With Sensu, deploying plugins and scripts are made easier that helps to monitor new configurations.

    Uses of Sensu Tools:

    • Gives instant alerts and incident management

    • Whenever any problem is detected, self healing is triggered with auto-remediation & custom workflows

    • Provides a sophisticated scheduler & automate the repetitive operations

    Real-Time Example: Send Grid

    Prior implementing Devops, managing the operating groups was a huge challenge especially for its large infrastructure. However, Sensu helps to monitor the delivery pipeline with zero downtime.

    Result:

    • Provided an end-end monitoring check

    • Ready-to-market by improving the configuration speed and accuracy

    Comparison Chart between DevOps Tools stack


    One of the best practises for implementing a Devops culture is choosing the right technology with the right toolset. Here’s a quick comparison chart between the DevOps infrastructure automation tools based on cost, key functions metrics along with few real-time examples.

    Devops tools

    Wrapping Up

    For two main reasons, every organization embraces on the infrastructure automation. One is for automating many routine tasks of Devops engineers, Testers, Operational teams and the other is to simplify the complex business tasks into manageable one with greater scalability.

    Through the help of these diversified DevOps pipeline tools and technologies,overcome the complexity of any business model and improve the organizational process seamlessly.

    devops tools

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