Probably not surprising, Puppet and Chef tend to garner the largest overall numbers. That has been the case when the data was originally analyzed, and it continues to this day. However, the more important piece is, are they growing? In both cases, the answer is no. Puppet has seen a decline of nearly 10% over the last six quarters, while Chef has seen an increase of about 7% over that same time period. In a nutshell, they both garner large demand, but they have remained fairly stagnant.
Therefore, if the two largest players in this space have been fairly static, which tool is gaining ground? After all, automation in itself is not static, so surely some framework must be seeing some momentum. In the world of automation, from our data, that tool seems to be Ansible. Red Hat considers Ansible as the “simplest way to automate”. As with everything, I am sure there are a number of engineers that would debate that statement. However, if true by consensus, perhaps that is helping lead its charge. I also think it helps tremendously that Red Hat has the largest market share out there. Whatever the reason, its growth is quite staggering. While Puppet and Chef have remained somewhat stagnant, Ansible has seen an increase of nearly 65% over the period analyzed. By far the largest of any of the players in this space.
The leaders and the biggest grower have been discussed, but what about the losers? After all, even though the automation field continues to grow at a fairly rapid pace, surely there is a tool that is losing ground. Yes there is. The most notable of these is CFEngine. CFEngine was the one most asked for early on. They seemed to have first mover advantage in this space. But, much like many various tools before it, it has clearly lost its momentum. From our data, it has seen a decline of nearly 60% over the last six quarters. As someone that has monitored the FLOSS space for over 15 years, it is somewhat sad to see this decline. However, it will not be the last. The rapid innovation of the FLOSS model lends itself to this phenomenon. And, in all honesty, that is a good thing.
Not to be forgotten is SaltStack. It has carved out a small niche for itself. While the numbers over time have fluctuated to both the positive and the negative, the end result is about the same as where it started. However, one tends to lean toward paying attention to see if there are any significant changes in SaltStack's numbers in the coming quarters. After all, it is a growing space, and more than likely there will be another tool with a growth trajectory.
Where does this leave us? For all intents and purposes, it appears that there are really three tools in the automation arena being asked for by corporations out there. Will that change? The numbers will bear that out, and if history is any indication, I am sure some new tool lingers on the horizon. FLOSS is anything but stagnant. It is the true beauty of it. However, if I was a current or aspiring DevOps Engineer, I would surely focus my attention at the moment on either Puppet, Chef or Ansible.