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Top 10 Most Popular Jenkins Alternatives for DevOps in 2024

jenkins alternatives

Jenkins was a pioneer in the CI/CD space, but today, there are many alternatives available. More modern platforms can offer improved version control system (VCS) integration, greater support for cloud-native deployments, and better compatibility with IaC and GitOps workflows.

In this article, we’ll look at ten popular Jenkins alternatives that you can use for your next CI/CD implementation. We’ll cover the main features of each solution and explain how they compare to Jenkins.

Top Jenkins alternatives include:

  1. Spacelift
  2. GitHub Actions
  3. GitLab CI
  4. CircleCI
  5. Travis CI
  6. CodeShip
  7. AWS CodePipeline
  8. Azure DevOps
  9. Bitbucket Pipelines
  10. TeamCity

What is Jenkins?

Jenkins is an open-source CI/CD server that runs pipelines to build, test, and deploy software. It’s normally used to automate the software delivery process by running jobs in response to events such as new commits, branches, and pull requests.

Jenkins is positioned as an open-source automation server. This generic stance makes it suitable for a wide variety of software engineering use cases, but it’s most commonly associated with CI/CD pipelines used to validate changes and deploy them to production.

Jenkins pipelines can include both sequential and parallel stages that let you precisely model how different processes are executed. Within your stages, you can use the hundreds of available Jenkins plugins to integrate with the other tools and platforms you rely on.

This extensive customization support is a large part of why Jenkins is so popular. It’s also helped by its ability to host outer loop processes and business automation scenarios in addition to the CI/CD pipelines used by DevOps engineers. Because Jenkins is a stalwart of the automation space—its original release was back in 2005—it’s also proven, reliable, and familiar to many established teams.

Discover how to manage Terraform workflows with Jenkins.

Why use a Jenkins alternative?

Jenkins may be a de-facto tool for CI/CD, but it’s no longer a shiny newcomer borne directly out of modern DevOps best practices. Although Jenkins is still relevant, newer tools can offer improved ergonomics and expanded functionality. These can be better suited to contemporary software delivery methods.

Some of the reasons why teams choose to move away from Jenkins include:

  • High complexity creates a maintenance overhead — Jenkins must be run as a self-hosted server app. This can be daunting to set up, configure, and maintain. In addition, Jenkins’ powerful versatility is helpful to advanced users, but causes unwanted complexity in simpler scenarios.
  • Difficult to manage plugins — The plugin model has been key to Jenkins’ success, but it causes usability challenges. It can be difficult to keep plugins and their dependencies updated.
  • Not built for containers/cloud native — Jenkins can be used with containers and cloud-native deployments, but it isn’t specifically designed for these scenarios. This can increase the work required to configure optimal pipelines.
  • Verbose configuration language — Jenkins pipelines are configured using a variant of the Groovy scripting language. Groovy is powerful, but it’s also more verbose and usually harder to learn than modern industry favorites like JSON and YAML.

Because Jenkins is so customizable, it’s possible to mitigate most of these issues yourself. However, doing so can consume valuable resources that detract from your product development work. Modern DevOps teams demand tools that are simple, fast, and capable of natively adapting to a cloud-first world—traits that Jenkins isn’t naturally oriented around.

Top Jenkins Alternatives

Here are ten popular Jenkins alternatives to try in 2024 if you’re looking for a CI/CD solution that’s easier to integrate with your current processes.

1. Spacelift

Spacelift is an Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) management platform for OpenTofu, Terraform, Terragrunt, CloudFormation, Pulumi, Kubernetes, and Ansible resources. Spacelift provides an automated CI/CD workflow for your infrastructure changes, letting you stop writing flaky pipeline scripts to apply your Terraform plans or Kubernetes deployments.

jenkins alternatives self hosted

Spacelift connects to popular VCS providers, including GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, and Azure DevOps. It integrates with your pull request workflows to allow developers to make infrastructure changes while respecting policies and guardrails enforced by administrators. Spacelift also defends against drift by automatically detecting and remediating unexpected changes in your environments.

Using Spacelift allows you to eliminate the tedious and risky parts of infrastructure management. Compared with manually configuring these workflows in Jenkins, Spacelift is simpler, offers improved visibility and compliance, and is easier to scale across different IaC providers and cloud platforms.

2. GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions is the CI/CD solution that’s built into GitHub, the most popular version control platform. It’s specifically designed to provide an intuitive experience for developers who want to run pipelines quickly without having to configure any separate software. Because it’s a managed SaaS service that’s specifically focused on CI/CD, there are no self-hosting requirements to navigate; pipelines themselves are also less complex to configure than in Jenkins.

jenkins alternative github actions

Actions is fully integrated with GitHub repositories so it’s a great choice for teams already using GitHub. You can run Actions pipelines in response to any repository event or webhook, such as a new commit push or a PR merge. There’s also a community marketplace of over 21,000 pre-built actions that you can add to your projects, making it even easier to get started.

See how to use GitHub Actions to manage Terraform.

3. GitLab CI/CD

GitLab CI/CD provides a platform for running pipelines directly alongside your GitLab repositories. Available in both self-hosted and managed SaaS forms, it’s a powerful system that integrates well with other GitLab components and cloud deployment environments. It can directly connect to Kubernetes clusters to run jobs and launch your apps, for example.

gitlab actions as jenkins alternative

GitLab CI/CD replicates much of Jenkins’ functionality but from a slightly different viewpoint. It’s less complex, yet simultaneously more dependent on manual configuration—GitLab’s catalog of prebuilt pipeline components remains a young beta. However, GitLab CI/CD also has several standout features including the ability to automatically run appropriate build, test, and deploy pipelines for your projects, from zero configuration.

4. CircleCI

CircleCI is a commercial cloud-native CI/CD platform that’s designed to support pipelines running at scale. You can use either cloud or self-hosted runner servers and a variety of job execution types are supported.

jenkins alternatives

CircleCI is designed to be easy to get started with while matching Jenkins’ level of extensibility and customization. Your pipelines can be composed from “orbs”—units of reusable configuration—or connected to your other tools using API integrations.

CircleCI can be a Jenkins replacement for teams seeking a managed experience where performance and support options are priorities. CircleCI is also investing heavily in building new capabilities that cater to the pipeline requirements of apps using AI and ML.

5. Travis CI

Travis CI is a cloud-hosted CI service that’s designed to work especially well with GitHub repositories. It’s a commercial solution; although most code is open-source, it’s not currently possible to self-host it.

Travis CI is known for its simple setup, quick parallel builds, and support for multiple architectures, including popular enterprise options like IBM PowerPC and IBM Z. It’s claimed that pipelines require approximately 33% less configurable code than other CI/CD solutions, which helps make the platform more approachable. Use it instead of Jenkins when you want a fast solution that’s backed by enterprise support.

6. CodeShip

CodeShip is a CloudBees SaaS platform that provides a managed CI/CD experience in the cloud. It’s designed to give control back to developers by providing a guided workflow for creating and maintaining CI/CD pipelines. This avoids much of the complexity that’s associated with Jenkins.

what are jenkins alternatives

CodeShip can integrate with the majority of popular developer tools, including code repositories, security scanners, and ChatOps solutions. It provides pipeline results wherever devs are working, keeping feedback loops short to achieve quick and easily debuggable builds.

7. AWS CodePipeline

CodePipeline is a cloud-hosted CI/CD service that’s available as part of AWS. Similarly to Jenkins, it supports the use of plugins to enable robust customization of your pipeline steps. You can define your pipelines using the AWS console, CLI, or configuration-as-code JSON files.

CodePipeline is a logical pick for teams that are heavily invested in the AWS experience. It seamlessly integrates with other AWS services—including CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, ECR, IAM, and Lambda—to build code and deploy resources managed elsewhere in your account. CodePipeline can also natively integrate with other source control providers to run pipelines for projects stored outside AWS.

8. Azure Pipelines

Azure Pipelines is Microsoft’s CI/CD platform available within the Azure cloud. It allows you to build, test, and deploy your software to Azure, other clouds, and on-premises environments. Pipelines are cloud-hosted and support parallel builds across Windows, macOS, and Linux.

azure jenkins alternative

Azure Pipelines tightly integrates with GitHub to display pipeline statuses in your PRs, run jobs automatically in response to repository events, and automatically deploy your projects. The solution is also extensible with custom tasks and integrations, making it a good fit for teams that need to retain Jenkins’ customization capabilities but want a managed service that’s aligned to the Azure DevOps ecosystem.

Learn how to implement an Azure DevOps pipeline for Terraform.

9. Bitbucket Pipelines

Bitbucket Pipelines is the CI/CD tool available as part of Atlassian’s BitBucket Cloud. It gives you a complete CI/CD solution right alongside your BitBucket repositories. You can also set up complex workflows that automate broader DevOps processes, using pipes that integrate different services.

A key feature is the platform’s ability to provide end-to-end visibility of CI/CD activity, including within Jira issues. This makes it easy for devs and operators to see what’s shipped or is currently being built without needing to cross-reference multiple tools. BitBucket pipelines also support self-service developer access through Jira Service Management, allowing admins to monitor and approve any infrastructure change requests that are generated by dev-initiated pipelines.

10. TeamCity

TeamCity is a CI/CD platform that’s developed by IDE makers JetBrains. It’s available in both SaaS and self-managed flavors, with the latter being free to use for up to 3 build agents and 100 configurations. The option of self-hosting can be beneficial to Jenkins switchers who want to retain full control of their CI/CD environment.

jenkins ci cd alternative

TeamCity supports all the main roles within the DevOps lifecycle, including developers, operators, managers, and administrators. It provides in-IDE feedback and test results to engineers, facilitates pipeline configuration reuse via templates, and includes a detailed dashboard for comprehensive visibility into pipeline activity, performance, and code quality. Obtaining this data from Jenkins can be complex and requires the use of external observability suites.

Key points

We’ve discussed Jenkins, why it’s popular, and the reasons why you might want to choose an alternative CI/CD platform instead. Although Jenkins is mature and endlessly customizable, these same characteristics also mean it can feel complex and unwieldy in today’s software delivery landscape.

Modern CI/CD solutions like GitHub Actions, GitLab CI, Azure DevOps, and Bitbucket Pipelines are easier to get started with. They can deeply integrate into your source repositories, tightening developer feedback loops.

Moreover, focused platforms such as Spacelift for IaC management let you instantly automate critical processes without leaving your regular workflow. This enables a simpler developer experience where you can keep shipping fast without maintaining complex Jenkins pipelines and their brittle plugin chains.

The Most Flexible CI/CD Automation Tool

Spacelift is an alternative to using homegrown solutions on top of a generic CI. It helps overcome common state management issues and adds several must-have capabilities for infrastructure management.

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