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Buyer's Guide to Selecting the Best DevOps Software

Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor
Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Increasingly, organizations are implementing DevOps tools to keep pace with ever-changing business and customer demands.

"DevOps tools help software engineers automate various steps in the software development process to enable them to develop products more quickly and make it easier for them to maintain their existing deployments," said Chris Condo, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

These steps include building code, continuously integrating code, running automated tests on the code, deploying code to different environments for testing, and, ultimately, deploying the code into production. As such, DevOps tools primarily involve facilitating collaboration and communication between software developers, product managers, and operations professionals.

While DevOps itself is a practice and not a tool, without the use of DevOps tools and platforms, it would be difficult for companies to manage their software development lifecycles (SDLCs) as the systems they're developing become more complex.

Types of DevOps Tools

While there are no one-size-fits-all DevOps tools, different types of tools meet various requirements, including:

  • Automation tools: These automate manual, repetitive tasks. Some focus on certain processes, such as deployment or testing, while others cover the entire SDLC. DevOps automation can improve the production process and software quality.
  • Version control: These tools track and manage changes to the source code.
  • Application-performance monitoring: These tools monitor the performance of the software and help handle infrastructure management. Typically, these include strong reporting capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI) to detect any defects in the code.
  • Container management: Containerization allows apps to run in various environments independent of the operating system. With container management, developers can package, monitor, and change applications.
  • Configuration management: These tools monitor and maintain system functionality to help ensure that all services and applications perform consistently and align with expectations.
  • Deployment and server monitoring: These tools let teams respond quickly and automatically to any degradation in the customer experience (CX).

Benefits of DevOps Tools

Other benefits of using DevOps tools include the following:

Faster deployment: DevOps tools enable software engineers to deliver software updates and features more quickly and more frequently, satisfying customer demands and delivering a competitive advantage to the business.

"Using DevOps tools automates a lot of manual tasks away and allows software development to move along a little bit more quickly," Condo said.

Standardization: Before DevOps, when a company wanted to release software, the developer would write down all the steps on a Microsoft Word document and then give it to an IT engineer—who would then execute all those steps. Every time the company released software and an engineer executed those steps, however, they would frequently execute those steps differently. Standardization helps avoid this problem while allowing for interoperability.

"When you automate testing, deployment, and configurations, you're also standardizing your approach to software development so that everyone understands," Condo said. "You're basically encoding best practices into your software-development process."

Quality: Because DevOps tools enable continuous testing and feedback, they lead to fewer problems in the software-development and deployment processes—resulting in lower failure rates for new releases and better quality products.

Reduced risk: "[With DevOps tools,] software is always deployed correctly because you're using an automation program to deploy it," Condo said.

As such, DevOps tools identify defects early and continuously in the SDLC, reducing risk.

Time savings: Since there are fewer failures with DevOps tools, engineers spend less time fixing unforeseen issues.

Cost effectiveness: DevOps tools also help companies save money by reducing the manual work software engineers have to do. And because these tools enable companies to get their products to market faster, companies can realize an improvement to their bottom line.

Key Features of DevOps Tools

When it comes to selecting the right DevOps tools, organizations should look for these key features:

API enablement: Organizations should ensure that the DevOps tools they choose have an API enablement, according to Condo. This will help them integrate their chosen DevOps tools into their current automations systems.

"Nearly every client that's looking for a DevOps tool has to integrate them into a tool chain," said Condo. "[Companies need] an integrated software-delivery platform where all these tools are not only automating each individual process but . . . also have an automated handover where they pass information along to the next step."

Application performance monitoring: Application performance monitoring allows teams from different IT areas to collaborate. It can also help developers diagnose complex issues in production—usually before they can negatively affect the business or CX.

Ease of use and scalability: DevOps tools must be easy for teams to learn and implement. This includes having the ability to scale as the company grows and teams' capabilities improve.

Support for CI/CD: To get products to market faster, IT teams must adopt innovative software development methods—including continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment (CI/CD). DevOps tools accelerate the processes of these methods, reducing errors and complexity while ensuring that the code is always packaged so that it is ready to release.

DevOps automation tools should support these approaches so that it's easier for teams to execute them.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Although organizations that implement DevOps tools realize a number of benefits, there are also potential pitfalls they should consider, including:

Putting the technology before the process: This is the biggest pitfall, Condo said, adding, "[Don't decide] you're going to choose a technology without deciding what you're trying to achieve or what outcomes you're trying to improve upon."

To successfully implement DevOps tools, companies should also figure out what they're trying to accomplish (for example, getting their products to market faster). As part of this process, before selecting DevOps tools, organizations must clearly define what DevOps means to the business. This definition will vary depending on the type and size of the company; for instance, a Fortune 500 will likely approach DevOps differently than will a Series A startup.

"More times than not, somebody will pick the technology and then figure all that out later—and realize it was a bad fit," Condo said.

Choosing tools solely on price: Just as a tech-first approach can be problematic, so too can a price-first approach.

"A lot of [companies] just blindly choose technology based on price without looking at what they're trying to do," Condo said. "For example, are we trying to improve compliance or governance, or improve time to market? Are we trying to move to the cloud? Are we trying to scale up to thousands of microservices?"

These are important considerations because each DevOps tool comes with its own pros and cons that go beyond up-front costs. Before making a purchasing decision on DevOps tools, a company should determine how it is going to support each of those tools—as well as who is going to manage and maintain them.

"Companies need to look inside themselves and stare at the mirror—and ask [whether] they want to own the maintenance and integration of their DevOps tools or have a service that they can just rent and use," Condo said. "They should determine if they want to buy a product that comes with service-level agreements and a warranty or [if they want to] go with a free product that has no guarantee or warranty—but they feel good about it because they can make any changes they want."

Lack of version control: DevOps tools that include version control allow developers to manage any modifications they make to code while creating backups of every version of the application at every stage of development. As such, developers can recover previous versions of the code at any time.

Implementing DevOps tools that don't include version control will severely hamper how fast teams can work—because they won't be able to roll back to previous versions of code in case a newer version has bugs.

Additionally, deploying tools without version control makes it extremely difficult for teams to work on the code collaboratively—because they're unable to follow one another's work in a way that simplifies understanding why certain changes were made. This means team members must continually have meetings to get clarification on any changes—disrupting the development process.

6 Popular DevOps Tools

DevOps tools help companies address the challenges they face implementing DevOps practices. However, there is no end-to-end solution or one-size-fits-all tool to meet every company's requirements. To help organizations get started, here are six popular DevOps tools (in alphabetical order):

Azure DevOps

Used mostly by large enterprises, Azure DevOps is a SaaS platform from Microsoft that offers a comprehensive DevOps tool chain that allows developers to build, test, and deploy software. Azure DevOps purports to work with any coding language, including Python, Java, PHP, Node.js, C/C++, .Net, and Ruby. It is also compatible with any platform, including macOS, Windows, and Linux—as well as with AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and (naturally) Azure. It can also work with Micro Focus ALM Octane (see below).

Azure DevOps provides a number of collaboration services—including team dashboards and the ability to request, provide, and manage feedback—as well as an analytics service and Microsoft Power BI reporting.

Pricing: Basic plan: First five users are free, then $6 per additional user per month; Basic + Test plan: $52 per user per month

AWS DevOps 

AWS offers a set of services that it claims will help any size organization more easily build and deliver software. With AWS DevOps, software engineers can manage their infrastructures, implement code, automate application release, and monitor the performance of the software. Organizations that are already AWS customers are able to use each service through software-development kits (SDKs) and APIs, as well as through the AWS command-line interface.

AWS DevOps tools cover microservices, infrastructure as code, CI/CD, platform as a service (PaaS), monitoring and logging, collaboration and communication, and version control. AWS also integrates with a large number of third-party tools integrate that extend AWS services.

Pricing: AWS offers a free tier, a pay-as-you-go model, and volume-based discounts.


Owned by Atlassian, Bitbucket is designed for teams of all sizes that use Git to manage code. A version-control system, Bitbucket integrates with Jira and Trello (also owned by Atlassian) to bring team members together to work on projects; connecting Bitbucket with Jira automatically keeps team members informed of code changes.

Bitbucket offers teams one location where they can manage Git repositories and work together to build and deploy quality code. Teams can use configuration as code to manage and configure their infrastructures and use Bitbucket Pipelinesan integrated CI/CD service built into Bitbucketto create automated workflows. Bitbucket also integrates with other DevOps tools, such as Jenkins (see below) and Bamboo.

Pricing: Standard version, $3 per user per month; premium version, $6 per user per month; free (forever) version available for up to five users


An open-source configuration management tool from Progress Software, Chef is designed for large enterprises that use DevOps for app delivery and infrastructure management. Chef's automation capability can simplify app building, runtime management, testing, and security controls. Chef also enables developers, operations teams, and security engineers to collaborate so that they can quickly deliver infrastructure and application changes. Chef provides analytics tools and a dashboard to enable this collaboration across teams—while giving stakeholders the insights they need to make better business decisions.

Chef works with the Ruby programming language. It can be deployed in any cloud environment, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, and Docker.

Pricing: Contact vendor 


An open-source automation tool written in Java, Jenkins helps developers build, deploy, test, and automate any project. Jenkins can be used by companies of all sizes to automate and speed up the end-to-end application lifecycle. As a widely used CI/CD tool, Jenkins may be particularly helpful for managing microservices.

Jenkins runs on macOS, Windows, Linux, and other Unix-like operating systems. Jenkins also integrates with just about every DevOps tool. The self-contained software can be extended via its plug-in architecture; it offers more than 1,800 plug-ins.

Pricing: Free

Micro Focus ALM Octane

Used primarily by large enterprises, Micro Focus Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Octane is a DevOps management tool that enables application teams to plan, define, build, test, track, and speed the delivery of high-quality software. It can scale to thousands of continuous integration-driven tests and measure the effectiveness of the automation.

ALM Octane can run on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It integrates with third-party solutions and open-source tools, including Eclipse, Azure DevOps (see above), GitLab, Slack, and Microsoft Teamsgiving companies end-to-end control of the application-delivery process. Organizations can use ALM Octane’s REST API, OData, and SDKs to expand integrations to other applications. ALM Octane also supports a variety of cloud environments, including Microsoft Azure (as well as Azure SQL Database) and AWS.

Pricing: Contact vendor 

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