Got tool sprawl? Let’s consolidate.

If you’re a developer, DevOps engineer, or security technician, you know the feeling of managing multiple tools at once. It’s a phenomenon so prevalent in software development that it has its own name, “tool sprawl,” and it can make it hard for teams to do their jobs efficiently.

What causes tool sprawl?

Tool sprawl occurs when teams use too many tools to complete a task. This typically happens over time as new toolsets get added to tackle unique problems a dev team is facing. Sprawl can lead to complexity, fragmentation, and gaps in security and automation across the software supply chain.  With multiple point solutions to manage, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s happening across your software pipelines. It also requires a heavy lift from DevOps and IT teams to maintain custom connections between all the tools.

Problems caused by tool sprawl

When it comes to tool sprawl, there are several potential issues that can arise:

  • Patchwork Security: Point solutions may not provide complete protection and add complexity as well as potential weaknesses to security processes.
  • Fragile Custom Connections: DevOps and IT teams must ensure that a wide range of tools work smoothly together. Any unexpected change can disrupt integrations and automations.
  • Ballooning IT Costs: Every extra tool impacts the total cost of ownership (TCO), not just license fees. There are also infrastructure, upkeep, training and integration costs.
  • Unknown Unknowns: Shadow IT might help Devs in the short-term, but poses risks in the long-term. If tools aren’t monitored, they can’t be secured or automated.

Areas to consolidate

Consolidating your tool stack is beneficial for improving performance and reducing complexity. Here are some potential areas to focus on:

  • Artifact storage
  • Source code and VCS
  • Container registries
  • Software security solutions
  • Cloud/dynamic runtime deployment technologies
  • CI/CD tooling
  • Implementing a single platform to monitor multiple parts of your systems and processes

Consolidating these areas can help streamline processes, reduce the time spent managing multiple tools, provide insight into development gaps, improve velocity, and reduce the risk of downtime.

A five-step plan for consolidating your DevOps tools

Finding the right tools to consolidate and manage your DevOps environment can be daunting. To ensure optimal efficiency and maximize cost savings, it’s essential to have a plan in place. Follow this five-step plan for successful consolidation and implementation:

  1. Create a DevOps and Security Tools Inventory: Begin generating a comprehensive inventory of which tools are used for source code and version control management, builds, and deployments.
  2. Identify what matters most: Analyze the inventory to determine which tools to consolidate or replace. Which tools have the biggest impact on the team versus those playing a niche role?
  3. Decide which focus areas to keep, combine, or phase out: Now that you have a list of tools, it’s time to identify which areas are most important to either consolidate around or have a dedicated tool for.
  4. Use vendors that bring tools together to speed software updates: It’s unlikely that any one tool is going to meet all of your needs in a given functional area. Research the vendor’s roadmap to see how their solutions will evolve over time. Also, look for vendors that play nice with others. For example, do they offer robust APIs or have OOTB integrations with the other tools you need to leverage?
  5. Set up a plan to migrate to a consolidated set of DevOps tools: Now that you’ve chosen which tools to consolidate, it’s time to create a plan for migrating your datasets from each. Be sure to involve the right stakeholders and establish an appropriate timeline based on how embedded a tool may be in current processes.

Read the 2023 Guide to DevOps Tool Consolidation to learn more about how to effectively combat sprawl.

Benefits of consolidation

Tool consolidation helps reduce costs, simplify workflows, and makes it easier to automate processes. Here are just a few of the key benefits of consolidating your tools with JFrog:

  • Optimize costs: You can reduce IT spend, tackle sprawl, and improve operational efficiencies.
  • Create a single source of truth: Eliminate silos and foster collaboration while increasing transparency and visibility.
  • Automate everything: Eliminate manual work that can introduce errors and risk. All JFrog solutions work seamlessly together.

Manage less, achieve more

In the current business climate of cost-cutting and heightened security, consolidating DevOps tools is a must. Doing so simplifies processes, increases visibility, and provides a secure environment for teams to work together. This not only makes software delivery faster and reduces operational costs, but also gives companies a competitive edge. In today’s fast-paced world, companies that can deliver software to the market quickly and confidently will be the ones that survive and thrive.