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In today’s fast-paced digital age, understanding and leveraging the right tools can make the difference between success and setback. This rings particularly true in the innovative field of DevOps.
In the software development lifecycle CI/CD tools are like the secret sauce. These tools play a pivotal role in the process of developing and deploying software in real-time, resulting in seamless integration and delivery.
But here’s the catch – there are about a gazillion CI/CD tools out there, and each of them thinks they’re the special one. Picking the right one can be like choosing the perfect donut in a pastry shop. They all look tasty, but some are just… more satisfying than others.
So, for you, my caffeine-infused friends, I’ve journeyed through the belly of the beast of the world of CI/CD tools. Where I wrestled with the complexities of version control, fended off the challenges of cloud providers, and dodged the pitfalls of continuous deployment until I emerged victorious with this list of the best of the best CI/CD tools, ready for your DevOps workflow.
So pull up a chair and grab a cup of joe, because today we’re taking a deep (and I mean Mariana Trench deep) dive into the marvelous, confusing, and often hilariously perplexing world of CI/CD tools. Trust me, it’s gonna be a riot! Let’s start at the beginning with some definitions, TurnKey style.
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CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery. These are two of the foundational principles in the DevOps world that help streamline and automate the software development process, making it more capable of handling today’s rapid digital demands.
I like to think of them as the Batman and Robin of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) world. With their powers combined, they transform your average software development process into a sleek, smooth-running machine. Imagine a world with fewer errors – that’s what CI/CD tools bring to the table.
Now, CI is the busy bee of the duo, checking all the code that the developers merge into the repository. With each addition, a friendly neighborhood continuous integration server swoops in and checks everything looking for bugs, flaws, or inconsistencies. Got a pesky integration error? CI will sniff it out faster than a bloodhound on a hot trail.
Then, we have CD, the calm, collected second half of the pair. CD tools are like a personal stylist for your software, making sure it’s ready to hit the runway at any given moment. This means – more frequent updates to your app, less time waiting around, and a big, fat cut in costs as everything is running most efficiently.
So, there you have it! CI/CD is the dynamic duo that ensures your development team can integrate changes at lightning speed, with the security of Fort Knox. They’re the essential secret weapon in any DevOps toolkit, helping you speed up your SDLC, produce top-notch software, and manage those pesky cloud costs effectively. Ready to see which CI/CD Tools I put on the list?
Instead of wandering aimlessly in the dense, dark jungle of CI/CD tools, I suggest you use this list as your flashlight, as it will illuminate your path to the best CI/CD tools for DevOps Teams.
But before I hit the on-switch, fancy a glimpse into a real-world example of how CI/CD tools allow one venture-backed startup to churn out more than 70k lines of code each year?
Meet MiResource, a shiny, venture-backed startup that’s like the matchmaker for mental health care. Their goal? Make it as easy as pie for health institutions to connect patients to the perfect care for their unique needs. They turned to TurnKey Labs when they had to build and scale their engineering team fast and wanted to ensure productivity and effectiveness as well as integrate it smoothly with their onshore team.
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So, what’s the end of this epic saga? TurnKey was able to fill all key roles quicker than you can say “continuous integration”. The offshore team is now launching new stuff every week with the help of an automated CI/CD delivery pipeline that runs hundreds of unit and end-to-end tests, while the team churns out more than 70k lines of code each year! It’s like they’ve got their own software development factory!
Being able to hire high quality engineering talent quickly is a game changer for any early stage startup. TurnKey has made that possible for us and we are proud that it is one of our company’s strengths.
I think these tools are the superheroes of the software development world. They help development teams push out code changes more often and with the reliability of the sunrise. Oh, and did I mention they automate parts of the SDLC?
So without any further ado, here are the first 18 CI/CD tools to catch my attention, in no particular order.
GitLab CI is a powerful CI/CD tool integrated within the GitLab platform. It is available for widely-used platforms like Windows, Linux, and macOS. It offers a web-based interface for managing projects and users, supports multiple programming languages, and can be hosted on your private cloud. GitLab CI can issue parallel builds by splitting a single build into multiple machines to minimize the build time. Jobs in GitLab CI can run sequentially in parallel. It also offers the option to define a custom pipeline.
Travis CI is a popular choice among open source projects. It provides a variety of features, including a version control system, integration with GitHub and Bitbucket, support for multiple languages, and is used in building and testing software projects hosted at GitHub.
Travis CI is an early mover in the CI/CD pipeline tools market. It supports a range of programming languages and has a proprietary YAML syntax for CI/CD pipelines. It provides runtimes on popular platforms like Linux, macOS, and Windows and supports integration with popular cloud platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, Kubernetes, Azure, and more.
Jenkins is an open-source automation server that helps to automate parts of the software development process. It’s a highly flexible and powerful tool that supports the entire software development lifecycle, including building, testing, and deploying applications.
TeamCity is an excellent CI/CD tool developed by JetBrains. It is perfect for all your projects, especially those that need robust version control systems.
Website: Azure Pipelines
Azure Pipelines is a cloud service part of Microsoft’s Azure DevOps offering that helps you continuously build, test, and deploy to any platform and cloud.
It is an open-source Continuous Integration server that allows you to implement ‘pipeline as code’ in YAML and JSON formats. GoCD’s Value Stream Map (VSM) gives a complete real-time visualization of the end-to-end implementation of the workflow. It can work with Windows, macOS, Docker, and more. It also supports parallel execution, a must-have feature for DevOps testing.
Codeship is a fast and secure hosted Continuous Integration service that scales with your needs. It’s a great tool for accelerating delivery speed.
Semaphore is a high-performance CI/CD tool that allows software developers to easily implement continuous integration and deploy their code. It’s known for accelerating delivery speed.
GitHub Actions, a part of the GitHub platform, makes it easy to automate all your software workflows. It’s a perfect tool for continuous integration, providing seamless process.
Buddy is a smart CI/CD tool for web developers designed to lower the entry threshold to DevOps. It uses delivery pipelines to build, test, and deploy software.
Drone CI is a powerful, container-native continuous delivery platform that’s great for cloud environments. It’s a perfect choice for teams using Docker and Kubernetes.
AppVeyor CI is a cloud-based continuous integration system that integrates natively with your source control and allows CI/CD for your applications.
Developed by Netflix, Spinnaker is a multi-cloud continuous delivery platform for releasing software changes with high velocity and confidence.
Codefresh is a Kubernetes-native CI/CD platform that enables developers to build, test, and deploy applications in a fast and secure manner.
Concourse CI is a pipeline-based CI system that provides testing, building, and packaging software. It’s a great tool for development teams working on open-source projects.
Bitbucket Pipeline, one of the well-integrated CI/CD tools within Bitbucket, accelerates the lifecycle by automating a continuous delivery pipeline of code from test to production. This continuous integration service enables you to track the progress of pipelines at each step local development process and provides visibility of the software version running in every environment. With this CD tool, you can deploy software swiftly, embodying the best CI/CD tools practices.
Harness stands as the premier software delivery continuous integration automation platform for utilizing AI, simplifying your DevOps tools such as CI/CD, cloud cost management, feature flags, and more. As a self-service, container-native continuous integration solution, Harness provides standardized extensions and isolated builds. You can automate canary verifications, prioritize tests, and gain insights into the cloud costs of your microservices, applications, and clusters.
How are you enjoying the list so far? I wanted to make it easy for you to keep them all straight, so I have broken out cloud and infrastructure management tools, release automation and deployment tools, and build automation tools onto their own lists, which you will find below.
These tools offer cloud computing services and tools for managing, provisioning, and automating virtual machine infrastructure.
AWS is a comprehensive, evolving cloud computing platform provided by Amazon. It offers a mix of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and packaged software as a service (SaaS) offerings.
Google Cloud Platform is a suite of cloud computing services that offers hosting and computing, cloud storage, data analytics and more. In terms of CI/CD, GCP offers Cloud Build and other tools for building and deploying applications.
CloudZero is a cloud cost intelligence platform, designed to help software-driven businesses understand their cloud costs in the context of their business activities.
Terraform, developed by HashiCorp, is an open-source tool that codifies APIs into declarative configuration files. It’s great for provisioning and managing cloud infrastructure.
These focus on automating the release process, managing deployments, using continuous deployment tools and controlling the flow of software from development to production.
Website: Atlassian Bamboo
Bamboo offers seamless migration from an open-source CI/CD option like Jenkins to its platform. It has built-in integration with Jira Software and Bitbucket server. Bamboo can integrate with popular tools (or platforms) like Docker, AWS, and more. It can realize parallel builds by executing builds on remote build agents. Bamboo is available in self-hosted and cloud-based variants.
Webapp.io (formerly LayerCI) provides a full-stack preview environment platform for engineering teams to accelerate their software development lifecycle.
Flux is a tool that automatically ensures that the state of your Kubernetes cluster matches the configuration you’ve supplied in Git. It uses an operator in the cluster to trigger deployments inside Kubernetes.
These tools automate the process of building code into a software package. They compile source code, run tests, check deploy code for potential bugs, and create documentation.
Apache Maven is a software project management and comprehension tool. Based on the concept of a project object model (POM), Maven can manage a project’s build, reporting, and documentation from a central piece of information.
Buildbot is an open-source framework for automating software build, test, and release processes.
It’s important to note that many of these tools overlap in functionality. For example, Jenkins, GitLab CI, and TeamCity all offer CI/CD features but can also be extended or configured to manage infrastructure, automate deployments, and more.
This is a great question folks! As picking the right CI/CD tool is kind of like ordering coffee, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for, I’ve got four suggestions on how to narrow down your options.
Firstly, check the integration capabilities. The tool should play nice with your other software like a well-behaved kid at a playdate. Then, supported programming languages – if it can’t ‘talk’ your coding language, it’s a no-deal!
Scalability is another biggie. As your project grows, your tool should be able to grow with it and not have a meltdown. Also, keep an eye on the price tag, unless you’ve got a money tree in your backyard!
Your tool should also effectively manage cloud costs – you should select one that you can think of it as a frugal personal shopper for your cloud resources.
Lastly, it should cater to your unique needs, whether you’re doing open-source projects or handling cloud environments, both public and private.
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The world of CI/CD tools is as wide and varied as a menu at an all-you-can-eat buffet! Each tool, whether it’s a full-bodied, feature-stuffed platform like GitLab CI, or a lean, mean, open-source machine like Travis CI, has its own special flavor.
But don’t forget, amidst this smorgasbord of choices, your ultimate goal of what the tool needs to do, should be as clear as the North Star!
So how do you pick? It’s simple! Go with what suits your team and your needs best.
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Enabling CI/CD tools begins with a clear understanding of your software development lifecycle and needs. Once you've identified these, you can choose from a variety of CI/CD tools (also known as a continuous integration tool and continuous delivery tools). To enable them, you'll generally need to integrate the tool with your code management systems, configure it to automatically run tests and builds when code changes are made, and set up notifications for the development team. Many tools, like Jenkins or TeamCity, also require setting up a continuous integration server that hosts the continuous integration process. If you're working on mobile apps or deploying on the Google Cloud Platform, make sure your CI/CD tool supports these environments too. Keep in mind that each CI/CD tool has different steps for setup, so always refer to the tool's official documentation for precise instructions.
The popularity of CI/CD tools can vary based on the specific needs of a software development project. Jenkins, a versatile open-source automation server, has been widely recognized and used because of its flexibility and large plugin ecosystem. Other popular tools include GitLab CI, Azure Pipelines, and GitHub Actions. It's always recommended to explore the best CI/CD tools and select the one that fits your team's workflow and the technical requirements of your project.
No, DevOps isn't a CI/CD tool. DevOps refers to a set of practices and cultural philosophies that aim to unify software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops). It encourages shorter, more frequent development cycles and increased deployment frequency, which can be facilitated by CI/CD tools. DevOps tools can range from continuous integration and testing tools to cloud providers, automation platforms, and monitoring services.
Yes, Jenkins is a popular open-source automation server that's often used as a CI/CD tool. It facilitates both continuous integration and the continuous delivery pipeline by automating various stages of the software development lifecycle. It supports version control systems like Git, enabling teams to build code, run tests, and deploy applications automatically whenever code changes are made in the repository.
Whether CircleCI is "better" than Jenkins can depend on your specific use case and needs. Both are powerful CI/CD tools. Jenkins, an open-source tool, offers a high degree of flexibility and a large selection of plugins, making it a good fit for complex, customizable workflows. On the other hand, CircleCI, a cloud-based tool, stands out with its convenience and ease of setup, making it a great choice for teams wanting to get started quickly without the need for extensive server management. Additionally, CircleCI offers robust Docker support, making it ideal for container-based applications. It's always good to consider your team's needs, the nature of your project, and your available resources when choosing a CI/CD tool.
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