The Ultimate Guide to Choose the Right Programming Language for DevOps
Programming languages are the main weapons in the arsenal of a DevOps team. Choosing an unsuitable language or multiple languages for projects may lead to unwanted outcomes such as the failure to achieve continuous delivery in a timely and effective manner.
In many situations, no single programming language will serve all the needs of a DevOps team, so knowing what kinds of advantages can a certain language provide is certainly a good knowledge to have. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of six top programming languages (in no particular order) that align well with the common goals of DevOps.
1. Go (Golang)
Microsoft has C#, Apple has Swift, and Google has Go. It’s fairly young – in fact, it turns ten this year – and is becoming more relevant in the DevOps field. As more and more tools designed for DevOps team are using this language, learning how to use it quickly becomes a must.
Already, Go has gained prominence for allowing to build awesome technologies (for example, Docker, one of the most popular container technologies at the moment, is built with Go), which, added with amazing support from Google, explains the increasing number of people learning it.
So what makes Go perfect for DevOps?
Excellent performance – Go is a compiled language that allows direct employment of programs. An app built with Go has only one, standalone library, which means no distinct dynamic libraries.
Web server and network applications – The language’s native concurrency makes it simpler to achieve collateral execution without locking. Moreover, Go eliminates complex dependency trees and has a low amount of runtime errors.
Simplicity – As it was mentioned in this section, Go doesn’t have any separate runtime library, so you can deploy apps directly by just copying. Moreover, there are no generics and templates that add to the obscurities.
Multithreading and concurrency – Go supports both multithreading environment and concurrency, which means that a DevOps team can keep a fast pace of programming, compiling, and execution.
Impressive speed – Compared to other popular options like Python, Go is much faster in many KPIs, including memory usage, CPU load, and more
Effective scalability – In 2014, a popular cloud storage service Dropbox migrated their backends from Python to Go, explaining the decision by the need to find a way “to scale systems in a more efficient manner.”
Perhaps unsurprising, the number of DevOps developers using Go has been increasing. According to the survey of developers performed by Google and published on the official site of the language, 41% of the surveyed DevOps adopted Go for their projects, which represents a 6% increase from 2016.
Thanks to excellent performance, concurrency, and the fact that Go has no libraries and dependencies, the language has made tremendous progress and continues to attract more developers.
However, it’s also worth noting that Go is still a young programming language, so it may impose a learning curve for your DevOps team members.
The second-most popular programming language, Python, has a lot of applications in DevOps. It’s very easy to learn; in fact, if you need something to be done, you can work on complex things without having to completely understand everything. In addition, there’s no need for oriented programming and structured coding.
The flexibility and accessibility of this language are among other reasons why so many DevOps teams use Python. For example, some of the most widely used configuration management tools, including Ansible and SaltStack, are written in Python.
Moreover, Python provides huge open libraries and modules, which allows DevOps to write scripts that can interact with system internals, manage networks, manipulate files, and perform other tasks. The structurability of Python code also allows us to speed up the development process.
That’s why a lot of DevOps rely on Python for building web applications and custom utilities. In fact, the recent Python Developers Survey 2018 showed that 43 percent of Python developers are using this language for DevOps.
Even though it can be used for almost every kind of application development, here are the main areas in which DevOps use this language the most:
Business applications – DevOps teams can use Python to build apps like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems
Software development – In addition to being helpful in managing and testing software, Python also provides much-needed support during the development stage
Desktop GUI applications – Here, Python’s numerous libraries also come in: for example, Tk GUI is helpful for developing user interfaces
Web applications – Python handles the most widely used web protocols, including HTML and XML.
On top of that, Python is known to reduce maintenance needs with its wide array of tools including Salt and Ansible that help to deploy and monitor applications.
The next item on our list is a highly flexible language that many developers like for its ability to be altered to meet unique requirements. Ruby is a cross-platform whose top use case for DevOps teams is infrastructure management but it’s also suitable for coding frameworks and controllers providing structures for web databases, sites, and complex applications.
“One factor that makes Ruby popular is the availability of community-made modules that are readily accessible for anyone to include in their own applications,” shares Tom Chapman, a DevOps team lead from Trust My Paper. “As a result, you won’t have to go through the process of writing a lot of code in many cases.”
Another advantage of Ruby is its approach to programming, which eliminates the need to adopt a specific approach to code writing. ; for example, DevOps can write Ruby code and execute them via an interpreter but also they can utilize it for procedural programming.
In addition, spinning up a server is something that can be used with Ruby because it ensures a dedicated workflow to turn information into a blueprint:
● Spin up a Ruby server within minutes, as the whole process requires your attention only once. When you have a blueprint of a server, you’ll be able to make provisioning of other projects much easier
● One command to deploy an app. This means that your team can deploy apps quickly.
Like Ruby, these two are high-level programming languages that remain relevant today despite being developed more than two decades ago. There are many reasons for this. For example, C-based applications are really fast and high-performing if written properly (they can support high-performing image processing, mobile sensor applications, and real-time simulation).
In fact, speed is one of the main reasons why DevOps teams go for C/C++. The languages are faster than other popular options and provide excellent concurrency support. This means that if a project you’re working on requires high performance and latency (think database servers, web servers, application servers, etc.), C++ should be your preferred choice.
Another reason why one should choose C/C++ is the fact that they’re close to hardware and provide sufficient support. This makes them a great choice for projects where software is closely coupled with hardware.
And you shouldn’t also forget that C/C++ allows adapting to just about any system, platform, or tool because they were developed a long time ago and have the tools to deal with that. This makes tasks like package management and creating a good continuous integration a lot easier. On top of that, your DevOps team will also be able to integrate with other tools, including IDEs and continuous integration platforms.
Like C/C++, Java has also been a programming language of choice for many developers for many years now, which makes it a must for DevOps as well. It’s powerful, functional, versatile, flexible, straightforward, and offers great integration opportunities. That’s why it’s won the status of the most popular programming language in February 2019, according to TIOBE Index.
What makes Java great for DevOps is that you can develop a wide range of applications with it, including web, embedded systems, mobile applications, desktop GUI, application servers, and web servers. Moreover, it’s concurrent in nature and is great for tasks that impose minimal dependencies for implementation.
Make a Smart Choice
So here you go, five top programming languages you must know to succeed in DevOps. As you can see, there are many programming languages that have different benefits for DevOps teams, so make sure to read carefully about what each of them can bring to your continuous application pipeline.