How to Manage Your DevOps Tools

New global research from and Automic reveals the extent of DevOps tool sprawl and the importance of managing a coherent deployment pipeline

Ralf Paschen
Ralf Paschen, June 30, 2016 9:00 am
Blog > DevOps | Tool Chain | Continuous Delivery > How to Manage Your DevOps Tools

It’s not often you read an IT report with “kittens” in the title. But on this occasion, it makes a lot of sense. “Managing Your DevOps Tool Chest: The Complexity of Herding Kittens” is a fascinating new global study presented by Automic and that sheds light on the difficulties of managing DevOps tool sprawl. If you think herding kittens is a challenge, then DevOps tool sprawl is in another league altogether.

That DevOps tool sprawl needs to be managed. Every new tool added by the development or operations teams effectively doubles the numbers of tools DevOps teams have to account for in their deployment pipelines. In order to maintain a coherent deployment pipeline, these tools must be integrated and orchestrated.

So what do the 225 respondents—drawn from both proactive DevOps users and ones without a propensity for DevOps—tell us about DevOps tools?

DevOps Tool Sprawl is Real

Firstly, DevOps tool sprawl is happening. Some 53 percent of respondents said development teams do not standardize on the same tools. The breadth of the tool mix depends on the size of the organization. The study shows that across organizations 40 percent use “5-10 tools”. Among large organizations, 53 percent use 20 or more.

New DevOps tools are being added to the stack at a fast pace too—exacerbating tool sprawl. Almost 35 percent of large organizations add DevOps tools at least annually, while almost 30 percent of organizations add tools at least once a quarter. The research also indicates that tools are not retired anywhere near as often as new tools are added.

Demand for Open Source on the Rise

Open source is gaining ground, indicating just how unstable and unrealistic vendor lock-in has become depending on the size of the organization. In smaller organizations (fewer than 200 staff), for example, 75-100 percent of the tool chain is open source. Meanwhile, in larger organizations (more than 5,000 staff), the most popular response was 10-25 percent.

The gulf between DevOps-empowered organizations and traditional IT generalists is most pronounced in terms of release frequency. More than 30 percent of DevOps-empowered organizations would like to release code more than once a day and an additional 40 percent (more than 70 percent total) would like release code daily or weekly. The rate for IT generalists is significantly lower.


What does all of this mean? Well, the DevOps tool stack is growing at an unwieldy rate. Vendor lock-in is also about as relevant as an Apple Newton. Most importantly, however, it tells us how important it is to manage a coherent deployment pipeline, especially as many organizations begin to adopt and implement initiatives based on DevOps tools. Regardless of whether or not a company is DevOps-empowered, it must embrace better management and insight into development tools and languages to achieve the full benefits of today’s technology.

An Application Release Automation (ARA) strategy gives you all this. ARA moves the organization beyond islands of automation and separate practices for production and non-production. Release coordination is combined with deployment automation across the Continuous Delivery pipeline—whichever DevOps tools are used.

Herding kittens just got a whole lot easier with ARA.

To read the research report, “Managing Your DevOps Tool Chest: The Complexity of Herding Kittens” click here.

To watch the on-demand webinar of the same title click here.

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Ralf Paschen

Ralf Paschen

Ralf Paschen is CA Automic’s Vice President of Application Release Automation. Based in the Frankfurt office, Ralf’s main strengths lie in building solutions to customers' problems and developing tools to showcase how these problems can be solved.