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With so many different DevOps orchestration tools available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to automate and integrate tasks across the DevOps lifecycle but need to figure out which tool is best. I've got you! In this post I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experiences using dozens of different DevOps orchestration software with various teams and projects, with my picks of the best DevOps orchestration tools.

What Are DevOps Orchestration Tools?

DevOps orchestration tools are software that streamline and synchronize various DevOps processes. These tools automate tasks, manage complex workflows, and integrate different stages of the software development lifecycle, from coding and building to testing and deployment.

The benefits and uses of these tools are manifold. They enhance efficiency by reducing manual efforts and errors, ensuring consistent and faster deployment of applications. These tools also improve collaboration across teams, facilitate continuous integration and delivery, and support scalability and adaptability in complex projects.

Overviews Of The 10 Best DevOps Orchestration Tools

In this section, I go over each DevOps orchestration software solution, providing a brief description, then highlighting significant features and noteworthy use cases.

Best for multi-cloud monitoring and management

  • 30-day free trial
  • $395/year for monitoring up to 10 database servers
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Rating: 4.3/5

ManageEngine Applications Manager is an application performance monitoring software that provides deep visibility into the performance and user experience of business-critical applications and infrastructure components.

It stands out as a tool for multi-cloud monitoring due to its capabilities to monitor workloads and troubleshoot application performance on cloud and virtualization platforms like AWS, Azure, GCP, Oracle Cloud, and OpenStack, offering detailed insights into performance and availability. It supports a wide range of programming languages and container technologies, allowing for effective monitoring and management of diverse cloud environments.

Key features include application performance monitoring, multi-cloud monitoring, database monitoring, server monitoring, and synthetic transaction monitoring to test website user paths. Additional features encompass real user monitoring for front-end performance analytics, container monitoring, and ERP monitoring. The tool also provides website monitoring, automated discovery and dependency mapping, AI-assisted smart alerts, and advanced analytics with extensive reporting capabilities.

Additionally, it seamlessly integrates with existing tool-chains, customizable dashboards, and smart alerts to ensure real-time visibility. This includes support for Java, .NET, PHP, and cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. It also integrates with databases like Oracle and SQL Server, and virtualization technologies like VMware and Hyper-V. For IT management, it offers integrations with identity and access management, unified service management, endpoint management and security, IT operations management, security information, and event management, and advanced IT analytics.

Pricing for ManageEngine Applications Manager under the Professional Edition is $395 for an annual subscription with 10 monitors and 1 user. Additional user licenses and monitor add-ons are also available for purchase.

Best for building tests "on the fly" with large result sets

  • 15-day free trial
  • Pricing upon request
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Rating: 4.4/5

QuerySurge is an end-to-end solution equipped with smart data testing software that is capable of automating the validation and testing process of critical data. It is a premier full DevOps solution for continuous data testing and orchestration. QuerySurge DevOps is capable of automating various tasks and processes, including software development, testing and other IT-related operations, effectively reducing the development lifecycle while delivering quality features, updates and fixes that are in alignment with operational goals and objectives.

QuerySurge also offers DevOps for data, also known as DataOps, which is a DevOps-type of automated process for critical data. It essentially applies various DevOps tools and approaches to the validation and testing of data. QuerySurge’s DevOps continuous testing solution executes various automated tests, which are triggered by predefined processes. This is a highly effective strategy as it generally provides immediate feedback on potential risks.

DevOps for Data is a fairly new release from QuerySurge. It enables testers to choose between a RESTful API and a Command Line API, while providing access to more than 60 API calls with close to 100 different properties. QuerySurge’s licensing and pricing options are quite transparent, starting from $11,493/user for the perpetual licensing option or $5,747/user for the subscription package with a minimum of two full users.

Deploy containerized workloads using docker without needing to understand or learn docker

  • Pricing information upon request

Containership is an open-source platform geared to help users manage all kinds of multiple host clusters, especially those that run containerized applications like Kubernetes. Containership allows you to nimbly operate across one or many cloud providers or data centers.Operating as a container-as-a-service tech stack component, Containership makes it simple for users to build, manage, and scale their containerized web infrastructure. Its features include multi cloud management, access control, cost management, demand monitoring, performance and capacity analytics. Containership lets you easily navigate movement between cloud hosts with a click of a button. It also has built-in disaster recovery and supports applications with persistent data needs.Containership cloud provides pricing information upon request.

The most popular container orchestration platform for managing node clusters at scale

  • Free
  • Free

Kubernetes has become synonymous with container orchestration at scale. Kubernetes is far and away the number one choice for enterprise teams managing containerized and microservice-based apps.

Kubernetes provides the capacity to handle the critical tasks necessary to ensure high availability and keep node machines operational. Some of these include provisioning, service discovery, load-balancing, fault tolerance, and redundancy. It also has auto-scaling and self-healing capabilities by default.

Kubernetes is widely associated with Docker but it can be used with other container runtimes. Kubernetes affords you the opportunity to run it on-premises or as a cloud-native service. It provides a lot of simple ways to accomplish tasks, such as deploying applications to clusters, and environment configuration through declarative infrastructure in YAML files.

While Kubernetes has simplified an ordinarily complex container management process, its learning curve is still steep for most, in addition to being resource-hungry.

Kubernetes is open-source and free.

Full-stack solution for building both traditional and cloud-native apps

  • Free plan available
  • Pricing upon request.

Red Hat OpenShift is a flagship enterprise container management and Kubernetes platform built for a hybrid-cloud strategy. OpenShift is suitable as either an on-premise or public cloud hosting platform where developers can build, test, run, and deploy apps.

As a platform-as-a-service application tool, OpenShift contains plenty of rich features that makes it useful for developers and DevOps teams who need to straddle both traditional and modernized IT infrastructure. It provides support for popular tools like Java, Jira, Gitlab, and Jenkins.

Most importantly, it allows you to start where you are at and grow from there, automating everything from upgrades, installation, and lifecycle management.

OpenShift provides autoscaling functionality by enabling clustering and allowing the automatic scaling of app resources through adding more instances to your application.

OpenShift has been recognized as a leading multi-cloud container development platform provider by Forrester Wave Report.

OpenShift offers customized pricing upon request.

Apache Mesos framework for container orchestration on Mesos

  • Free Version
  • Pricing is not listed

Marathon is an orchestration tool designed as a fundamental building block for Apache Mesos and Mesosphere’s Datacenter Operating System (DC/OS). As a result, Marathon provides first-class support for Mesos containers using Docker and cgroups.Marathon has a well-designed UI with clean functionality, which provides intuitively clear insight and visibility of what is happening with containers. It binds persistent storage volumes directly to your application, along with providing application and disaster recovery capabilities. Marathon provides other pertinent cloud features including load balancing and service discovery.Marathon is equipped with several HTTP methods, which allows you to perform HTTP or TCP health checks on applications and subscribe to events in order to receive notifications. The availability of endpoints are useful for integrating with external load balancers.Marathon is also compatible with databases such as MySQL and Postgres, with their storage accounted for by Mesos. Querying metrics is as simple as using JSON formats, which can be pushed to monitoring and observability services like Datadog or Graphite studio. Marathon’s API can also integrate with Docker, Prometheus, JBoss Portal, among others.Marathon operates a free version and has not listed other pricing information publicly.

A simple and easy-to-use automation and configuration-management tool

  • 60-day free trial
  • From $14/user/month (billed annually) (Note: This is a placeholder price and may not be accurate)

Ansible is an open-source, simple to use, and agentless automation tool from Red Hat. It has a light footprint, requiring less maintenance overhead because it doesn’t need any Ansible agent to be installed or deployed on the host machine.

Ansible is used to manage, scale, and automate complex deployments. It is often used for app deployment and continuous delivery pipeline automation. It can be used by those with little or no scripting or coding experience because it uses the declarative configuration in YAML-based files known as Playbooks.

However, you need to use SSH, which is already a dependency, for communication and have Python installed. The downside to agentless automation is that connecting to thousands of boxes across your IT infrastructure via SSH doesn’t particularly scale well.

While Ansible is free, there’s commercial support for the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform in two editions. The standard edition is designed for enterprise IT processes while the premium version caters to mission-critical DevOps.

Both offer customized pricing upon request.

Flexible, yet powerful independent-minded container orchestrator with universal

Nomad is a simple, lightweight workload orchestrator for both container and non-container apps. Nomad can also be deployed in various configurations, whether on-premise, as a multi-region service, on the cloud, or even as multi-cloud federation worldwide.

Nomad’s major strengths are its universality, simplicity, flexibility, and minimal overhead. It is deployed as a single binary, so its light footprint integrates easily into your existing infrastructure. Support is provided for Windows, Java, and VMs while orchestrating support for Docker containers and other types of services.

Nomad doesn’t have the breadth of features of other orchestration tools on the list but it strives to do a few things particularly well.

Nomad is created by HashiCorp, so it integrates natively with the products like Terraform, providing infrastructure as code to manage jobs and cloud resources as added benefits. Others include leveraging HashiCorp’s Vault for ACL management and Consul for service discovery.

Nomad is well-suited for users and situations where Kubernetes is overkill for their needs and requirements.

Nomad has two editions: its Open Source edition is free, while you’ll need to contact the sales department for the Enterprise pricing.

Fully-managed Kubernetes

  • $0.10/hour for each Amazon

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) typically operates as a fully managed, cloud-native Kubernetes service. EKS is also tightly integrated with the robust Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem, thus allowing you to take advantage of its efficient computing resources to provision your Kubernetes infrastructure.

But it also provides customers with other choices, including on-premises, hybrid environments, and deployment options with your own tools. This added flexibility means EKS doesn’t require you to migrate your workloads to AWS.

As a Kubernetes orchestration platform, EKS removes the burden of orchestrating the deployment of apps. Like its Azure counterpart, EKS also manages the Kubernetes control panel on your behalf. As a result, you can focus on your web applications instead of worrying about the performance of your nodes.

With EKS, you have the best of both worlds, by getting the benefit of AWS-supported products, in addition to the open-source solutions built by the Kubernetes community.

EKS provides an AWS Pricing Calculator to estimate how much you’ll be charged given the resources you’ll consume. As a flat rate, EKS charges customers $0.10 per hour for each Amazon EKS cluster they create.

Lightweight, cost-effective tool for running containerized Docker applications

As containers gained preference over virtual machines, they became a vital part of DevOps solutions and workloads. Accordingly, most people familiar with containerization have most likely used or heard of Docker. As an orchestration management tool, Docker Swarm runs on the Docker engine.

You can use Docker Swarm to create, deploy, and manage a cluster (or swarm) of Docker engines.

Since Swarm uses Docker as its native clustering engine, installing Docker is a prerequisite. There isn’t much separation between Docker and Swarm as current versions of Docker now include Swarm mode.

To support load balancing and service discovery, Swarm uses DNS through a DNS server under the hood. Swarm also has a faster deployment time compared to other container orchestration tools.

Although Docker Swarm is useful and lightweight, it is very limited compared to Kubernetes. Docker Swarm doesn’t have in-built monitoring; this can only be achieved through third-party APIs. Also, it lacks the robust features of Kubernetes and its functionality is largely limited because it’s tied to the Docker API.

Swarm offers customized pricing upon request. Contact them for details.

The Best DevOps Orchestration Tools Summary

Tools Price
ManageEngine Applications Manager $395/year for monitoring up to 10 database servers
QuerySurge Pricing upon request
Containership Pricing information upon request
Kubernetes Free
Red Hat OpenShift Pricing upon request.
Marathon Pricing is not listed
Ansible From $14/user/month (billed annually) (Note: This is a placeholder price and may not be accurate)
Nomad No price details
Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) $0.10/hour for each Amazon
Docker Swarm No price details
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Other Options

Here’s a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the list.

Best DevOps Orchestration Tools: Comparison Criteria

Below is the summary of the evaluation criteria that guided my selection of the top ten tools.

  1. User Interface (UI): A tool’s UI/UX interface is typically its first contact with its customer. Therefore, I looked for easy navigation with a clean, inviting, and user-friendly layout.
  2. Usability: DevOps orchestration tools handle fairly complex tasks like configuring build processes. The best tools are relatively simple to use and easy to learn and paired with rich features to work and collaborate effectively.
  3. Integrations: The best DevOps tools have the ability to support a wide range of popular tools and environments. It should offer compatible support for CI tools and version control systems like GitHub, Jenkins, Bitbucket, and Docker. It must build partner ecosystems to provide apps that aren’t in its wheelhouse.
  4. Value for Pricing: Affordability is always a vital factor in making business purchases. Therefore, I look for cost-effectiveness and the value for money a tool provides. 

DevOps Orchestration Tools: Key Features

These are the key features DevOps orchestration tools need to remain competitive.

  1. Integrated automation: In order to be an effective orchestration platform, a tool needs to have automation pervasively interwoven into the fabric of its operations, especially those that have a disproportionate impact on productivity and cost-effectiveness. Examples include test automation and testing tools such as Jenkins, Terraform, Bamboo, among others.
  2. CI/CD pipeline: DevOps tools are largely synonymous with continuous integration and continuous delivery functionality. Therefore, an orchestration tool should be equipped with robust CI/CD pipelines that facilitate the creation and delivery of well-tested, high-quality software at high velocity.
  3. Support for cloud-native technologies: Let’s face it, software has migrated to the cloud. Thus, orchestration tools strive to make the “build once, deploy everywhere” mantra a reality. So, in addition to on-premise system deployment, support for cloud computing should be a centerpiece.
  4. Container management: Orchestration tools must be adept at running microservices and container-based infrastructure. This feature is important as Kubernetes and containers have become the preferred way to modernize legacy apps and build software at scale.

What Do You Think About This List?

This is my top ten DevOps orchestration tools list. It bears the imprint of my personal imprimatur and possible biases. Nevertheless, it was well-researched and based as much as possible on objective fact. Consequently, I'd like to hear your opinion and get your feedback.

I also encourage you to check out a related article on the 10 Best DevOps Automation Tools for Software Development. And while you’re at it, subscribe to The QA Lead newsletter or listen to any of our top-notch podcasts.

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Eze Onukwube
By Eze Onukwube

Eze has a master's degree in communications with over 10 years of experience as a software engineer. His playground is at the intersection of technology, process improvement, and simplifying IT concepts.