The Software Toolchain: A Definition With Clear Examples
Nov 25, 2019
Historically, software development moved slowly. Companies might ship out a new suite of tools once a year—and that’s only if they were lucky. As an example, Microsoft Office 95 came out in August 1995, Microsoft Office 97 came out in November 1996, and Microsoft Office 2000 came out in June 1999.
Fast-forward to today, and software developers face a whole new challenge. Today’s leading organizations are increasingly embracing the DevOps approach to software development. As a result, engineers now need to ship software updates frequently. This is why your iPhone is constantly retrieving software updates and your favorite platform gets a facelift every few months.
With DevOps, companies can ship software faster, patch bugs quicker, improve the quality of their software, bring new products to market faster, and build more efficiency into their development processes.
Meeting the DevOps demand for velocity, however, requires a robust set of tools.
Before we explore what such a toolchain looks like, let’s take a step back and briefly make the case for DevOps.
The concept of DevOps traces its roots back to the agile movement, which has been around for nearly 20 years. Since then, leading software companies have grown to understand that combining development and operations leads to better products and happier users.
The benefits of DevOps speak for themselves. According to recent research:
63% of DevOps teams produce higher-quality software.
63% also ship software more frequently.
55% of DevOps teams say they’re better at collaborating.
At the same time, DevOps teams spend 60% less time dealing with customer support issues. This makes perfect sense, since user feedback is incorporated directly into the development lifecycle.
Add it all up, and you end up with better software produced in less time. What’s not to like?
Now that you understand the benefits of DevOps, let’s explore the tools engineers use to pump out software rapidly.
What Does a Software Toolchain Look Like?
Creating next-level software experiences involves many moving parts and requires many different tools.
Every developer has different preferences, and every company uses different tools, so each engineer’s toolchain will likely look a bit different.
Still, the below should give you a fairly good idea of what a sample software toolchain looks like.
Without further ado, here are seven tools that can be found in many DevOps engineers’ toolchains.
1. Jira for Issue Tracking
Jira is an issue tracking and project management tool built by Atlassian. The platform helps DevOps engineers plan projects and track progress with ease—even in distributed environments that prioritize collaboration.
With Jira, DevOps teams can keep tabs on releases with the peace of mind that comes with knowing all information on the platform is up to date.
Jira also integrates with a number of other DevOps tools. As a result, it’s found in many developer toolchains.
2. Mattermost for Collaboration
In the age of remote working, it’s more important than ever for development teams to stay on the same page. An easy way to do that is by using a messaging platform like Mattermost to coordinate projects and bring people together.
With Mattermost, DevOps teams can collaborate in real time with ease—even when they’re distributed around the world. Not only does this help keep software development projects moving forward rapidly, but it also helps with a number of other use cases, like ChatOps, ops theater, social coding, war rooms, and more.
Increasingly, leading DevOps teams are ditching email and moving to platforms that make work easier, like Mattermost.
3. Puppet for Infrastructure Automation
One of the worst things about any job is having to do the same monotonous tasks over and over again. When you’re a DevOps engineer building transformative software solutions, this problem is perhaps even more pronounced.
Enter Puppet, which builds powerful tools that automate infrastructure provisioning to ensure compliance and security. With Puppet, engineering teams can automate and orchestrate a number of repetitive tasks—including starting and stopping services and rebooting systems.
A tool like Puppet can transform DevOps productivity. In fact, one study found that using Puppet can result in a 210% increase in time savings while reducing costs by 97%.
4. Jenkins for Server Automation
Jenkins is another DevOps tool that makes life easier for engineers around the world. It supports DevOps teams’ continuous integration efforts while helping developers build and test software rapidly. In other words, Jenkins automates the build process.
Thanks to Jenkins, engineers will know right away whether the code they’ve written works or not. This is a big deal. Remember, DevOps teams focus on shipping software updates regularly and repeatedly.
By immediately notifying teams that something is wrong in the code, Jenkins helps prevent shipping unstable or bug-filled releases.
5. GitLab for Source Code Management
Anyone who’s ever collaborated on a Word document in a traditional enterprise setting knows the drill. You end up in a never-ending email chain with a document that has a perpetually changing file name. In these scenarios, version control is impossible. All too often, folks will work off of different documents, and everyone will pull their hair out.
The same situation can apply to software teams, too. However, tools like GitLab can save the day here.
Thanks to GitLab, dispersed DevOps teams can easily keep track of their CI/CD pipelines, and version control is a cinch. With everyone working off the most up-to-date branches, DevOps efforts accelerate.
6. Prometheus for Monitoring
When you’re shipping software on a nearly continuous basis, something is bound to go wrong sooner or later. Welcome to the world of computers.
When that happens, it is critical for DevOps teams to work quickly to resolve the issue. Otherwise, productivity can grind to a halt internally. Externally, customers can become incredibly irate.
As such, monitoring tools like Prometheus are often found in the software toolchain. With Prometheus, DevOps teams can receive alerts and notifications whenever something isn’t working correctly.
The tool ships with several visualization options, making it incredibly easy for engineers to make sense of the data it shoots out.
7. Plutora for Value Stream and Release Management
Suffice it to say that there are many moving parts in the developer toolchain. Reaching your full potential as a DevOps engineer starts with having deep insight into all of these tools.
This is where a platform like Plutora can be particularly helpful. Plutora helps software development teams scale by providing crystal-clear insights into their DevOps toolchains. With Plutora, it’s easier than ever to build transparency into DevOps pipelines and measure the progress of your team.
Plutora integrates with many popular engineering and operations tools found across the enterprise. In other words, the platform makes the engineer’s life easier by providing a central location that consolidates all of the information they need to do their jobs.
As you can see, software toolchains are complex. But thanks to platforms like Plutora, that complexity is simplified.
Ready to Gain Deeper Insight Into Your DevOps Workflows?
Whether your DevOps toolchain looks like the one we’ve illustrated above or not, one thing remains true: You need transparency into your tools to reach your full potential.
We may be a bit biased. But we believe that Plutora is a must-have in any DevOps engineer’s toolchain. That’s because Plutora provides the granular visibility and transparency needed to deliver transformative software experiences.
To learn more about how Plutora can help your organization take its DevOps initiatives to the next level, check this out.