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10 DevOps tools vendors to watch in 2020
A vast market for DevOps tools includes every major IT vendor and many up-and-comers. A panel of industry experts say these 10 are most likely to shift the market in 2020.
DevOps tools vendors abound as a new year approaches, from household name mainstays to fledgling IT startups, but for seasoned industry watchers, a handful stand out above the rest.
DevOps encompasses many technical subcategories, and just keeping track of the DevOps tools available is a challenge. DevOps vendors are so numerous, in fact, the sheer number in itself has the potential to shape the market and users' buying decisions.
"There are teams out there with 20 different toolchains, and within those toolchains there are 10 different tools, which means you can have hundreds of DevOps tools within a large enterprise," said Christopher Condo, an analyst at Forrester Research. "There's pressure to consolidate, and that's why you see certain companies getting attention that have one big contiguous toolchain."
The 10 DevOps vendors highlighted here were mentioned in the course of 11 interviews with DevOps professionals and industry experts in December 2019, each of which began with the question, "Which companies will move the DevOps market forward in 2020?"
Five mentions: End to end CI/CD platforms
Atlassian has long been a force in enterprise project planning and software defect management, but it has made strides this year to expand its DevOps toolset and its influence in the market, from its Opsgenie incident response product to the rollout of a premium cloud platform that enhanced the company's SaaS appeal to large enterprises. Atlassian also acquired BizDevOps player AgileCraft, now Jira Align.
The company still faces some questions about how it plans to integrate all its acquisitions and rationalize its on-premises and cloud products, but it appears poised to grow even more influential in 2020 as enterprises adopt the Agile ideal of BizDevOps.
Christopher CondoAnalyst, Forrester Research
"There are still many people that don't have an enterprise-class portfolio management tool," said Carmen DeArdo, an independent DevOps consultant and a senior value stream management strategist at Tasktop, a software lifecycle management company in Vancouver, B.C. "With the purchase of AgileCraft, [Atlassian] is now a player in the portfolio management space."
In the last year, CloudBees reinvented itself, shifting its focus beyond Jenkins to a broader purview in software delivery management, based on its acquisition of Electric Cloud and feature flags software maker Rollout. It donated Jenkins to the newly formed Continuous Delivery Foundation, but also added an enterprise distro of Jenkins for the Kubernetes era in Jenkins X, and launched a Jenkins X SaaS platform this month. The company's overhauled CI/CD suite, dubbed Software Delivery Management, is slated for general availability next year, and industry watchers expect it to change the landscape for DevOps vendors.
"Companies have to learn how to differentiate themselves further [than traditional open core approaches do], which CloudBees did when it donated Jenkins to make it a standard platform, and added more features to its own platform," Forrester's Condo said. "A distro plus support just isn't enough anymore -- you have to offer a standard and add more value."
Four mentions: Cloud heavy hitters
Microsoft / GitHub
GitHub, now owned by Microsoft, is the de facto standard for hosted Git code repositories, which anchor most DevOps toolchains. Its beta launch of a CI/CD capability within its GitHub Actions workflow tool in August set the stage for GitHub, and by extension, Microsoft, to make major waves among DevOps vendors when GitHub Actions becomes generally available in 2020.
"[GitHub Actions] ties directly into event-driven architecture within the repository, meaning [that] as a developer I don't have to attend multiple different tools," said Nicholas Liffen, software engineering team lead at Eli Lilly and Company, a pharmaceutical firm in Indianapolis. "We don't want to turn GitHub into a monolithic super tool… but at a glance, it has great potential."
Google is already a big enough influence in tech in general, and among DevOps tools vendors in particular, to have a wide-ranging effect on the DevOps market no matter what it does -- or doesn't do. For example, the company has resisted donating the Istio service mesh and Knative event-driven computing projects to the Cloud-Native Computing Foundation, which opened up an opportunity for competitors in those areas previously elbowed out by Google's outsize influence.
"It will be interesting to see if the ecosystem momentum [stays] with Istio, or if there is more of a shift to the passionate team at Linkerd," said Andy Domeier, senior director of technology operations at SPS Commerce, a Minneapolis-based communications network for supply chain and logistics businesses. "This is important to watch because there's a lot of integration and built-in dependencies [to manage] once you commit to a proxy and service mesh technology."
Three mentions: Cloud-native platform innovators
AWS, along with Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, can disrupt any DevOps niche it likes simply by entering it in 2020, analysts said.
"While startup ISVs are looking for a nice IPO or acquisition, cloud service providers are looking to make their IaaS workloads more sticky," said Charles Betz, analyst at Forrester Research. "They could match and double the current VC investment in continuous delivery and release automation [tools] with the spare change on their dressers, completely disrupting the plans of vendors like CloudBees."
AWS also maintains a stranglehold on the serverless and event-driven computing space, IT pros said.
"You are going to start to see FaaS move to Kubernetes-based architecture -- watch this space for Fargate on EKS," Eli Lilly's Liffen said. "That is something that the whole serverless paradigm is going to be disrupted by."
GitLab can capitalize on the same pressure to consolidate DevOps toolchains that larger competitors such as Atlassian and CloudBees will pursue, but GitLab can offer a less complex approach in many areas.
"At some point people have to move beyond code commits and releases to production, and also focus on risks and debt," DeArdo said. "GitLab has that data and the most functional tools to make decisions on that data."
HashiCorp is at the head of the class in infrastructure as code with its Terraform tool, which helps DevOps shops achieve infrastructure automation and establish GitOps initiatives. HashiCorp enjoys a strong reputation for engineering quality and product execution among the large companies that use its DevOps tools, analysts said. Users are also intrigued by its HashiCorp Sentinel tool that can add compliance guard rails and enforce policies in infrastructure as code environments.
IBM / Red Hat stands out among large IT vendors looking for a slice of the Kubernetes platform pie. It has the most market share among enterprises for its Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, but will face increased competition from other big vendors, such as VMware / Pivotal, HPE and Cisco, in 2020.
Tom PetrocelliAnalyst, Amalgam Insights
"These big companies have the money and personnel to stomp all over a market, even if they don't want to stay in it long-term," said Tom Petrocelli, analyst at Amalgam Insights. "They will make Kubernetes hit the mainstream hard in 2020."
Snyk garnered the most nods from industry watchers among DevOps vendors in the ultra-hot DevSecOps space, but that market remains volatile. Snyk raised its profile this year with its support for security and vulnerability management for open source DevOps tools that automate routine tasks, leaving human DevOps pros to deal with the most in-depth problems.
Wild card: The still-unknown DevOps vendor
Many companies just barely missed the top ten that deserve a mention, but at the pace this industry moves, slotting the as-yet unknown company in at number 10 seemed the best bet.
There are still some major problems that few or even no companies effectively address yet, particularly at enterprise scale, according to cutting edge DevOps practitioners. For the U.S. Air Force, unmet needs include KubeFlow management for AI on Kubernetes and security tools that change infrastructure through GitOps integration.
"There are always a bunch of code changes in YAML on the production cluster when you install a new product, which I despise," said Air Force Chief Software Officer Nicolas Chaillan. "It creates bad practices for us when we're trying map issues in production to a source code repo and trigger a GitOps pipeline to make changes to our platform."
Editor's note: The eleven interviews conducted for this story included a mix of industry analysts (four) and enterprise IT pros (seven). No particular number of companies or subcategory within DevOps was specified for consideration ahead of the interviews. Companies that received the most mentions formed a shortlist (see graphic), and then a final list.