What is a software deployment tool?
Automated deployment is a series of activities that allows customers to use a program. A software deployment tool lets programmers work together, create, control, and track the progress of their projects to a large extent. To make organizational processes more efficient, high-quality deployment tools are the need of the hour.
In the first place, software deployments require immense planning and testing. Their performance of the application must be optimal. Secondly, the system needs to be evaluated regularly to determine how the software works both independently and with other apps.
In a continuous deployment tool, automating tasks helps developers provide uninterrupted user-friendly experience and upgrades. In comparison to manual operations, automating tasks decreases the chances of incorrect codes. Deployment can be done by either the developer or the customer. Since every organization has its own unique needs, enterprise deployment tools should allow for tailoring.
Why do we need automated release tools?
Developers usually work with different teams across multiple cities. This situation increases the likelihood of a code containing errors. Furthermore, an automated software deployment tool decreases downtime. As a result, a new code can be deployed easily. Moreover, if a release becomes faulty, continuous-release tools help in supporting quick fixes.
In addition to the above points, developers also need insight into idle time, program usage, third party integrations, and notification management. They also require a high-level overview of the project health. With automated release tools, all this can be achieved, and employee and program performance can be optimized.
In addition, a software deployment tool also helps understand liabilities in security. In fact, cyber threats are a rising risk in any system. Since employees across varying levels of access and permissions interact with codes, it becomes essential to manage these settings. Therefore, with this in mind, access rights can be granted as and when needed with automated tools. This drastically decreases the opportunities for hackers.
In short, computer programmers use a software deployment tool to:
- Save time
- Automate software distribution tasks
- Provide easy upgrades
- Increase security
- Understand user activity
- Movement between development, testing, and production
As mentioned earlier, organizations choose deployment tools based on their needs. Some of the factors that have to be considered are:
- Tech stack and infrastructure
- Real-time reporting and project management
- Third-party integration
- Data storage, security, and compliance
- Ease of use
- Playbook library and workflow templates
- Script maintenance
Keeping these in mind, here is a review of 10 best software deployment tools in 2019. The list of programs we will be looking at, in-depth, are:
|Tool name:||Price||Main Features|
|1. Bamboo||30-d Trial | From $10 to $1100||– Multi-platform compatible tech stack|
– Git workflows, Jira Software, and Bitbucket server integration
– Detailed information on the project
– Dedicated agents help decrease queue time for critical bug fixes
– Full list of code changes and Jira tickets
|2. Team City||Free | $299|| – 100 build configurations|
– Runs 3 agents in parallel, with the option of adding on more to increase capacity
– Public issue tracker, community support, and online documentation
– Use of layout scripts to set up CI and CD pipeline
– Scalable structure
– Extendable additional functions
– Continuous integration and deployment
|3. AWS CodeDeploy||Free|| – Platform and language agnosticism|
– Easy insertion into existing processes
– Reusable and repeatable deployments
– Ability to deploy any content, codes, scripts, multimedia files
– Dynamic scaling
– On-premise deployment
– Minimal downtime
– Centralized control to track and monitor
– Deployment health tracking and history
|4. Octopus Deploy||Free | $45/month|| – Releases between environments|
– Repeatable and reliable deployments
– Different database types
– Simplifying complicated patterns
– Easy to start, use and integrate
– Top class platform support
– Cloud or on-premise deployment
– Library of 200 reusable steps
– Scalable operations
– Code analysis
– Certificate management
|5. PDQ Deploy||Free | $500|| – Shared servers/databases on the same license|
– Deploy to offline machines after they go online
– CLI access
– Ready-to-deploy and multi-application packages
– Instant notifications
– Compatible with many scripting languages
|6. Ansible Tower||Free | Request Quote|| – Remote command execution|
– Comprehensive API and CLI tool
– Simple portal mode
– Organize and automate hosts across all your providers
– Scheduled tasks and jobs
– Cluster service
– Integrated notifications
– Access control
– Inventory management
|7. Chef Infra||From $16,500/year To $150,000/year|| – Enterprise automation stack|
– Cloud agnostic
– Effortless base suite
– Scalable design
– Dynamic updates
– Testable, portable, and editable codes
– Repeatable processes
– Code customization
– Efficient migration and management
|8. CodeShip||Free | $49/month|| – Maximization of productivity|
– Developer in control of the project
– Combination with any tool, service or cloud
– Top-notch Docker support
– Set up and build in a few minutes
– Customized UI
– Strong infrastructure
– Dedicated single-tenant AWS instances
– Agnostic to release target
– Visual insight into project health
– Great for common technologies and workflows
|9. AppVeyor||$29, $59, $99|| – Minimal setup time required|
– Community and Slack support
– GitHub SSO, GitLab SSO, Bitbucket SSO
– Build design in YAML or UI
– Separate and clean build environment
– Built-in deployment and NuGet server
– Branch and PR builds to support development workflow
|10. DeployBot||Free | From $15/month to $50/month|| – Tracking changes online|
– Pre-defined containers
– Sharing of release notes with the project team
– Minimal configuration on a server
– Seeing launch progress real-time
– Managing access for teams
– Refining releases
– Quick rollback
Top 10 Software Deployment Tools in 2019
1. Bamboo: Integration and Deployment Build Server
Bamboo is Atlassian’s integration and releases management tool. Overall, it focuses on continuous delivery and combination.
It can work with any technical language and with other technologies like AWS CodeDeploy, Docker, and Amazon S3. A launch project holds the software project you are deploying, releases that have been built and tested, and the environments in which releases are deployed.
Significantly, Bamboo has a special ‘agents’ feature that allows you to create fixes quickly. There is also complete visibility into historical code changes and Jira issues. As a result, both the release of the operation teams know exactly what to expect during go-live. In addition, another key point is that mobile developers can deploy their applications to the Apple Store or Google Play.
Meanwhile, Bamboo’s pricing is based on agents rather than users. This means more agents help run processes at the same time. While the tool is free for 30 days, you will need to choose from solutions for small teams ($10) or growing teams ($1100) post that. The pricing differs in the number of agents and the number of jobs that can be run. Some of Bamboo’s customers include Citrix, NASA, Splunk, Redfin, and Starz.
As a whole, these features make Bamboo’s software deployment tool attractive:
- Multi-platform compatible tech stack
- Git workflows, Jira Software, and Bitbucket server integration
- Detailed information on the project
- Dedicated agents help decrease queue time for critical bug fixes
- Full list of code changes and Jira tickets
- Free add ons
- Free trial
2. Team City
Per their website, nearly 6 million users trust JetBrain’s deployment automation tools. Team City is its powerful continuous integration solution.
This developer-oriented solution helps increase performance. In fact, the tool lets you pre-test and run automated checks even before deploying the code. Hence, this will ensure that your base code is clean and that you can track progress as you build it.
The order can be configured to inherit permissions and settings from the parent project. In fact, you can even use common templates to create your project tree. For the most part, a single process can also be broken down into its factors to run in sequence or in parallel.
Team City users can purchase a Professional Server License, a Build Agent License or an Enterprise Server License. In fact, the Professional Server License is free, has over 100 configurations with full access to all product features and 3 build agents. The Build Agent License for $299 adds 10 additional build configurations.
The Enterprise Server License can be specially customized and can cater from 3 to over 100 agents. Some companies that use TeamCity to automate their deployments are HP, Oculus, Teradata, Citibank, Salesforce, Nike, and Ferrari.
Clearly, the most compelling features that make TeamCity a great choice in deployment automation are:
- 100 build configurations
- Runs 3 agents in parallel, with the option of adding on more to increase capacity
- Public issue tracker, community support, and online documentation
- Free or paid service
- Use of layout scripts to set up CI and CD pipeline
- Scalable structure
- Extendable additional functions
- Continuous integration and deployment
3. AWS CodeDeploy
AWS CodeDeploy offers automated software deployment for multiple services and on-premise servers. Their simple solution can be scaled based on the customer’s needs. In fact, the steps to use AWS is simple. Hence, a customer can simply sign up for an AWS account, learn with quick tutorials and start building with AWS to launch their project.
In brief, CodeDeploy can be used in development, test and production environments with minimal downtime. In addition, it can also handle the complexity of providing constant updates and ensure that all programs are still accessible during deployments.
Many leading companies use CodeDeploy including, SmartNews, Gilt, Instacart, 3M, and ClicTravel.
Overall, AWS CodeDeploy’s most compelling features are:
- Platform and language agnosticism
- Easy insertion into existing processes
- Reusable and repeatable deployments
- Ability to deploy any content, codes, scripts, multimedia files
- Dynamic scaling
- On-premise deployment
- Minimal downtime
- Centralized control to track and monitor
- Deployment health tracking and history
4. Octopus Deploy
Octopus Deploy combines different types of deployment applications, scripting languages, and configuration files. For example, it supports ASP.NET, Java, node.js, PowerShell, Python, and C#. It allows you to execute database migrations.
First of all, Octopus does not replace your current company deployment tools. In fact, it works with the existing pipeline. Octopus’s agent Tentacle lets you deploy to the cloud or on-premise servers. It can handle multi-tenant deployments, complex networks, manual actions and can navigate just about any environment. Finally, Octopus Deploy offers training tutorials for customers to help understand the tool better.
One thing to remember is, Octopus is free for up to 10 deployment targets. However, for cloud deployment as a service, Octopus costs $45/month for up to 5 deployment targets and $9 for each additional target. Their customers include Microsoft, NASA, Cisco, Symantec, and Domain.
The features that make Octopus Deploy a sound choice, include:
- Releases between environments
- Repeatable and reliable deployments
- Different database types
- Simplifying complicated patterns
- Easy to start, use and integrate
- Top class platform support
- Cloud or on-premise deployment
- Library of 200 reusable steps
- Scalable operations
- Code analysis
- Certificate management
- Free or paid version
5. PDQ Deploy: Deployment Software
PDQ Deploy proudly claims to help save time during its deployment on any Windows screen or multiple Windows PCs at once. Particularly, you can download and deploy automatically even when offline. Common scripts can be run from a file or built on the fly. You can use any of the 175 ready-to-deploy applications from the library.
PDQ Deploy has instant notifications to track and monitor any deployment project. Access, schedules, and settings can be shared with its multi-admin feature. In fact, pre-built packages can be easily deployed in Adobe Flash, Java, and Firefox.
PDQ Deploy is available in two versions – free or enterprise. The free version has remote, multi-step and silent deployments. The enterprise version is $500 per admin and offers optional agent integration, email notifications, and automatic inventory scan after deployments. The paid version also has priority email support in addition to the community support. The automation tool is used by customers like LinkedIn
Why PDQ Deploy is an efficient choice:
- Shared servers/databases on the same license
- Deploy to offline machines after they go online
- CLI access
- Ready-to-deploy and multi-application packages
- Instant notifications
- Compatible with many scripting languages
- Free and paid versions
6. Ansible Tower: Complex Deployment Management Tool
Red Hat’s Ansible Tower helps scale IT automation, manage complex deployments and increases productivity. Their 2 minute and 10-minute demo video on the website offers insight into how this solution lets you control and centralize your IT systems. With Ansible Tower’s API, you can quickly embed it into existing tools and process chains.
One of the main features of Ansible Tower is their visual dashboard that lets you see the host and inventory status, all recent runs and activities. In addition, you can generate reports based on job and time settings. Status updates are very clear, providing visibility into machine, success, failure, and output.
Their Workflows editor tool allows you to build complex processes. In addition, you can also run models in a test environment and release applications based on test results.
Historical information on a job is available for detailed correlation analysis. However, a big advantage with Ansible is the connection of multiple Ansible tower nodes into a single cluster, helping with scale and capacity.
Moreover, task notifications can be combined with Slack, SMS, and email. In fact, these alerts can be customized based on the job and the person. Ansible Tower has customers like Juniper Networks, Amelco, NetApp, and Swisscom.
There are 3 ways to try Ansible Tower for free. You can:
- Download Ansible for Linux
- Launch Ansible in Vagrant
- Launch Ansible in Amazon EC2
It also comes in a paid variant, for which you can seek a custom quote based on your needs. In addition to the Single-click launch feature, Ansible Tower also can perform:
- Remote command execution
- Comprehensive API and CLI tool
- Simple portal mode
- Organize and automate hosts across all your providers
- Scheduled tasks and jobs
- Cluster service
- Integrated notifications
- Access control
- Inventory management
7. Chef Infra: Infrastructure Automation
Chef Infra ensures consistent and strong infrastructure configuration at any scale. Chef’s easy scripting code can be used across Windows, Linux, and UNIX. Consequently, it is easy to perform similar operations across a variety of platforms. In fact, codes can be tested in Chef’s system-like Test Kitchen, before deploying in real situations.
As a result, the codes are of high quality and accuracy. The program is quick to set up and easy to integrate into existing applications requiring minimal downtime.
Firstly, Chef’s dashboards let you visualize up to thousands of nodes. Secondly, you can drill into results to filter and analyze minute details of the jobs and activities. Last but not least, the solution also has chat and webhook notification systems for instant alerts. Chef’s systems let you automate design, manage software patches and configure continuously.
The flexible pricing options range from 100 nodes to 500 nodes and cost between $16,500/ year to $150,000/ year. Individual purchases for Chef Infra, ChefInSpec, and Chef Habitat are also available.
In comparison to others, these qualities distinguish Chef from the rest of the available solutions:
- Secure and compliant base
- Organization distribution
- Expert automation
- Cutting edge help and support
Chef Infra also has the following features:
- Enterprise automation stack
- Cloud agnostic
- Effortless base suite
- Scalable design
- Dynamic updates
- Testable, portable, and editable codes
- Repeatable processes
- Code customization
- Efficient migration and management
8. CodeShip: Secure Hosted Continuous Integration service
CodeShip provides simple turn-key SAAS CI/CD platforms to automate testing and deployment of your code. Simple initial steps build up to a sophisticated workflow and set up as the project evolves over time.
This software deployment tool allows you to switch from a simple UI to completely customized service. The vast choice of notifications, integrations, and developer support lets you concentrate on your project and not worry about process management.
For this reason, CodeShip builds the infrastructure while developers can go back to writing code.
CodeShip utilizes a hybrid approach. Generally speaking, it runs builds on the cloud but hosts the code on SCM instance. A high degree of security is already embedded in the design even if an organization already has on-premise source control. Larger build machines and parallel pipelines help scale capacity. This means CodeShip can handle projects of any size. Deployments and testing can be carried out in parallel.
All CodeShip customers get unlimited users, unlimited teams and unlimited projects. They offer a forever free option or unlimited build choice. The forever free plan lets you use up to 100 builds per month for free and additional builds can be purchased. The unlimited build plan is $49/month and concurrent or parallel pipelines can be purchased as and when needed. A few of CodeShip’s customers include Placester, TravelPerk, Splash, and Hermann.
These features set CodeShip apart:
- Maximization of productivity
- Developer in control of the project
- Combination with any tool, service or cloud
- Top-notch Docker support
- Set up and build in a few minutes
- Customized UI
- Strong infrastructure
- Dedicated single-tenant AWS instances
- Agnostic to release target
- Visual insight into project health
- Great for common technologies and workflows
9. AppVeyor: Continuous Integration and Deployment Service for Windows and Linux
AppVeyor is a continuous integration solution that works on Windows and Linux. The software deployment tool lets you build, test and deploy your code faster on any platform. Not only has this tool run more than 10 million builds so far, but it has also been used by more than 50,000 developers.
AppVeyor can be set up in a few minutes, and it can work with any source control. AppVeyor is capable of handling multi-stage deployments. It offers fast build VMs with admin access.
The paid version of the tool includes Hosted service and On-premise plans. The Hosted version varies between the Basic, Pro, and Premium packs. They are $29, $59, and $99 respectively. Besides the price, the difference in the editions are based on private projects run, the sequence of the jobs, and support offered.
The On-premise version of this tool can be either the Team edition or an Enterprise edition. These editions are offered for free or at $2990/year. Per their website, AppVeyor’s customers include Google, Netflix, Slack, Facebook, and Mozilla. In addition to the paid pricing options, AppVeyor is free for open-source projects.
To enumerate, AppVeyor’s features include:
- Minimal setup time required
- Community and Slack support
- GitHub SSO, GitLab SSO, Bitbucket SSO
- Build design in YAML or UI
- Separate and clean build environment
- Built-in deployment and NuGet server
- Branch and PR builds to support development workflow
DeployBot is a tool that lets you instantly push, build, and send codes anywhere in a continuous release for your entire project team. The program lets you start manual or automatic releases. By and large, these codes can be either executed or saved on servers during deployment. There are unique tools for multiple environments. For example, in a project, the Production and Staging team can move codes from different project branches to the main servers at the same time.
Markedly, their Beta version allows customers to build codes using predefined or custom Docker containers. All the code changes can be released to both web applications and files. DeployBot lets customers monitor deployments and analyze how each release affects performance and stability.
The pricing plans available are Free, Basic, Plus, and Premium. The pricing is based on servers, storage, tech support, deployment, and users. The paid versions cost between $15/month for the Basic version, to $50/month, for the Premium versions. As per their website, DeployBot is trusted by many companies like Intuit, Clearleft, Reaktiv Studios.
Overall, here are the key features that make DeployBot valuable.
- Tracking changes online
- Pre-defined containers
- Sharing of release notes with the project team
- Minimal configuration on a server
- Seeing launch progress real-time
- Managing access for teams
- Refining releases
- Quick rollback
From the comparison, it is easy to see why a lot of companies choose Bamboo or AWS CodeDeploy. In terms of compliance and security, Ansible Tower, Octopus, and PDQ Deploy emerge as front runners. These products come with the highest degree of tech and support. In addition, it is also important for the basic structure to be sound and stable; only then, codes can be written and grown.
All these solutions also work well with other applications, which increases user adoption. Cost is also an important factor in choosing a software deployment tool. A lot of startups may not have the funds to invest in a costly solution. Therefore, they can opt for an affordable choice, that allows it to function better. Whereas for bigger companies with larger budgets, there are tools available which can handle complex problems.
Manual operations tend to take up a lot of time. Automating these tasks lets developers focus on writing code. Automation is very important from the project management aspect as well. It means a manager spends less time worrying about processes. A simple code can create a stable workflow even for complex situations. Therefore, it is clear that automation is indeed the future of technological progress.
From the summaries above, it is clear that each software deployment tool has its own unique features. Having said that, there are some common needs from the tool. Technical compatibility with multiple platforms and the ability to work with different languages and scripts is essential. The continuous release tool should be easy to use, with a visual and graphic dashboard. It should be convenient to share with project teams. Low downtime and quick fixes increase the adoption of the tool.
What’s the final word?
Software deployment tools come in all versions. Some are paid and some are free to open source. While making a choice, organizations should consider all aspects of the project, including resource limits and dependencies. All these features allow a developer to concentrate on writing code and deploying them in the test environment. Choosing the best release tool impacts a project positively. Most software deployment tools come with a free trial period. Taking it for a trial run will help in deciding which release tool fits the organization the best.