These startups prove it pays to bet on open-source DevOps tools

DevOps operates on end-to-end open-source tools. GitHub is so popular for this reason — it is the home of open-source projects. Some of the biggest DevOps tools today are open source. Kubernetes, Jenkins, Prometheus, Istio, to name a few. Additionally, there is a new breed of upcoming open-source projects gaining the attention of DevOps teams and investors alike. We take a look at four such projects and the companies behind them in this article.

open-source DevOps tools
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Neo Technology — Neo4j

Neo Technology, the company behind the leading graph database Neo4j raised $20 million in Series C funding. The key idea behind this funding is that graph databases will grow in importance as data analysis and data science takes precedence in organizations.

Neo4j simplifies graph database analysis by providing a simple query language. Neo4j is, by far, the leading graph database available today. It presents a great alternative to traditional RDBMS and even newer NoSQL databases for many workloads.

A graph database is different from a table database. It is more flexible and is well-suited for data science projects. It focuses not only on the data but also on the relationships between data points.

The building blocks of a graph database are nodes and relationships. A node is a single piece of data. A node can connect to other nodes to form relationships. Relationships are usually one-way. Together nodes and relationships combine to form complex data structures.

Cypher is the query language of Neo4j. It works by encoding patterns across multiple nodes and relationships. It can easily scale to really large datasets, making it ideal for data science and even for social media applications.

With a wide user community, help is always at hand, but if you want the best support experience, Neo Technology is always an option. Considering it is hard to scale and maintain, and sometimes with the complexity, you’ll need a hand getting the desired result with your Cypher queries. At those times, an experienced hand to help you along the way can make all the difference between the success and failure of a project.

Alternatives to Neo4j include GraphDB Amazon Neptune and ArangoDB.

open-source DevOps tools

Armory — Spinnaker

Armory backs the hugely popular open-source project Spinnaker. Armory has recently received funding of $28 million in Series B funding.

Spinnaker is a deployment automation tool with a focus on multicloud. It lets you make sophisticated deployments across multiple cloud platforms based on triggers from Jenkins, GitHub, and more. You can create pipelines to manage the complexity involved in these deployments. With immutable images and rollback of failed deployments, Spinnaker has all the essentials to be the most advanced cloud-native deployment manager.

Spinnaker is a dream come true for Ops teams wary of developers whose code breaks things in production. Ops teams can create pre-approved pipelines and allow developers to deploy to production only using those pipelines. This makes the deployment process predictable and safe. Further, if a deployment fails, a rollback is just one click away.

Armory uses its expertise as top contributors to the Spinnaker project to deliver enterprise-grade Spinnaker. Beyond the default capabilities of Spinnaker, Armory adds on management capabilities like deeper monitoring, versioning of Spinnaker pipelines, policy-based compliance, and ready-made integrations with tools like Terraform.

Spinnaker looks to simplify multicloud deployment, yet, configuring the pipelines can take some getting used to. Considering Spinnaker’s pipelines are meant to be used repeatedly and maybe modify every now and then, their setup is the main part. There is a considerable amount of upfront work required to initially set up the pipelines, but once that’s done right, managing and maintaining them is a lot easier. The steep learning curve can be quickened with the help of an experienced team like Armory’s.

Spinnaker is part of the CD Foundation that also oversees the Jenkins project.

FOSSA — OSS management

FOSSA has raised $23 million in Series B funding and is ready to make open-source DevOps tools more secure than they are now.

The rise of open source has been an unavoidable trend in the past decade. Most of the top cloud-native technologies are open source. These include Kubernetes, Prometheus, Istio, and more. The list of open-source tools being used in a cloud-native stack today is growing longer by the day. But what doesn’t get talked about as much is the vulnerabilities that can creep in due to open source tooling. With the codebase written by a community of developers working from different perspectives and agendas, it’s not possible for an open-source tool to meet your organization’s security requirements perfectly. This is when it is important to have a proactive strategy to scan and audit open-source tooling for vulnerabilities. This is the domain that FOSSA operates in.

FOSSA’s key feature is its ability to check and enforce policies for open source tools’ licenses. FOSSA flags whenever a license is outdated and can even enforce which versions of licenses are allowed to be used. This puts more control in the hands of the Ops team. By combining deep monitoring capabilities with proactive remediation, FOSSA is a very capable open source security tool.

With all the rush to develop new features and deploy faster, developers care less about vulnerabilities and licenses in open source tools. The same goes for Ops teams who have enough on their plate with managing deployments to multicloud targets. It would be a huge time saver and a big relief to have a solution that works in the background, scanning every release for vulnerabilities and checking the licenses being used.

One of the larger competitors of FOSSA is WhiteSource, which also specializes in open source security scanning.

Redis Labs — Redis database

Redis Labs, the parent company of the widely used Redis database, was recently funded with $100 million in a Series F round.

Redis is the second database in this list, which shows the importance of databases in modern cloud-native applications. According to its website, “Redis is an open-source, in-memory data structure store, used as a database, cache and message broker.” It is most commonly used as a cache for sessions and page loads. It persists data between sessions and enables really fast loading of session data. Beyond caching, though, Redis is also used for a host of purposes like message queuing, Pub/Sub-based chat systems, leaderboard counting, fraud detection, claims processing, and more.

The big challenge facing Redis Labs is to expand users’ perception of Redis beyond caching. With the plethora of specialized tools available today, Redis can find it hard to cut through the noise. The recent round of funding will be crucial for Redis Labs to decide their now late-stage startup’s fate.

The most frequently compared solution to Redis would be Memcached. Redis wins over its older rival because of its more robust set of features such as snapshots, replication, pub/sub, and more. Also, Redis is actively developed while Memcached is in maintenance mode.

One of the challenges that users face with using Redis is the complexity at scale. This is with any database, though. It’s easy to get started, but things can quickly spiral out of control. Another related concern is the associated costs, which can also spike quickly.

Redis has gained widespread adoption, and Redis Labs is in a great position to capitalize on the demand by addressing these concerns if it can find the right balance.

You Are Doing Enterprise DevOps All Wrong

Open-source DevOps tools: A must-have

If you’re into DevOps, you need open-source tools to build state-of-the-art applications. The ones listed here are a great choice, particularly if you operate at a mid to large-scale organization. They come with the guarantee of no vendor lock-in and with high levels of support. This is the best of both worlds.

Featured image: Pixabay

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