Total DevOps is Needed – Plugins are Not Enough

SEP 25, 2017

Trace3 was proud to be a Gold Sponsor, exhibitor, trainer of the DevOps Institute leadership certification course, and newest partner of CloudBees at the CloudBees Jenkins World 2017 event in San Francisco August 28-31, 2017.  Jenkins World 2017 attracted 54 sponsors/exhibitors – an 80% increase over 2016.

The growth of interest in this event demonstrates that the number of tool choices available for creating the continuous tool chains needed to realize the goals of continuous delivery and DevOps is growing.  One of our top takeaways from Jenkins World 2017 is… Plugins are Not Enough.

Indeed XebiaLabs’ Periodic Table of Tools   is a valiant attempt to illustrate categories of DevOps tools and attributes of specific tools.  Version 2 of the Periodic Table is now released, and I heard that version 3 is already on the way. While the table shows an impressive 15 categories of tools, I estimate there are 29 categories if you consider additional categories for tools such as cloud management, test management, test creation tools, code analysis tools, code collaboration tools, ALM systems, dashboards, security tools and others.   The table shows five attributes for each tool including open source, free, freemium, paid, and enterprise. In my opinion, there are at least two additional categories: ecosystem and cloud readiness.  While the table indicates 120 tools, my own estimate counts 300+ DevOps tools which would include tools such as CloudBees, Electric Cloud, Perforce, Scalyr, Service Now, Tricentis. SmartBear, SonarQube, Parasoft, Coverity, Fugue, QA Symphony, and many others.

While the exact number of tool categories, tools, and attributes is arguable, there are many tools to choose from when forming a continuous delivery toolchain.  The state of practice for integrating tools into a seamless toolchain is the plugin or do-it-yourself scripting.

Anyone who has implemented a tool chain knows that the existence of tool plugins, while useful, is not enough. The quality and completeness of each plugin varies significantly.  Some off-the-shelf plugins are so basic they are little more than marketecture. Even the best plugins are limited to a pairwise match-up between tools of specific version pairs, and not a universal tool or version.  For example, a tool with a plugin for Jenkins version X may not function with Jenkins version Y, or CloudBees Enterprise of other tools at any version.

DevOps Express collaborative initiative announced by 14 participating vendors at Jenkins World 2016 was an attempt to resolve the plugin problem. At the time of Jenkins 2017 the DevOps Express website has shown a growth to 123 tools across 18 categories.   However, just like the XebiaLabs Periodic Table of Tools, it is remarkable that the number of tool categories and tools that are not comprehensive (and lacking plugin compatibility) are not guaranteed for any combination of tools that may be needed for a tool chain for a specific enterprise.

Each enterprise has unique tool chain requirements and preferences.

Selecting and an integrating DevOps tools is not like buying a box offset of “standard” Lego bricks that are guaranteed by the manufacture to fit together.   Each tool and plugin is different.

The choice of tools, the combination of tools, and the integration of the chosen tools all must be carefully chosen to fit the specific customer requirement. More importantly, the integration must be architected to ensure the chosen combination works well together in a seamless tool chain.

Until there is an absolute standard plugin architecture that all tool plugins are guaranteed to be compliant with, expert consulting services will be essential to make tools choices and make sure the tool chain works.

With such a rapidly growing list of tools and vendors, only the most capable consulting teams with deep insight and partnerships with the widest array of tool vendors will be able to address enterprise DevOps solutions properly.   It was with these considerations in mind that Trace3 created the  Total DevOps practice that leverages and expands the extensive Trace3 partner network. We believe that nothing less than an “all-in” approach with a comprehensive approach to people, process, and technology is essential.   Trace3 is uniquely positioned to partner with customers and assist them with DevOps tools integrations because we are one of the few DevOps consulting firms in the marketplace that has an extensive tool vendor partner network.  Looking forward to Jenkins World 2018!

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