Jenkins is a popular, flexible and customizable open source automation server. It promotes continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) by automating build, test, and deployment in software development and DevOps environments, enabling developers to increase efficiency, productivity, quality and speed while reducing errors.
Is Jenkins the right CI/CD tool for you? We’ll take a closer look at Jenkins features, pricing, pros and cons to help you answer this question with confidence. And, if that’s not the right CI/CD tool, we’ll also reveal some Jenkins alternatives that might be a better fit.
Jenkins CI/CD Tool Overview
Jenkins originally started as an automation server under the name “Hudson” in 2004. It was created by a Java developer named Kohsuke Kawaguchi, who started the tool out of a need for continuous integration while working at Sun Microsystems (now Oracle). A dispute between the Hudson open source community and Oracle over over-control led to a fork in 2011. Oracle maintained Hudson, while Jenkins remained its own separate project. Over time, Jenkins added contributors and features and exploded in popularity, while Hudson eroded and is no longer maintained.
To this day, Jenkins is considered a reliable, flexible, and scalable CI/CD tool for developers looking to automate and streamline their software development processes through its extensive plugin ecosystem. Its reputation has been further strengthened over the years by winning several CI, open source and DevOps awards.
Features of Jenkins
Jenkins has several features that make it an attractive choice for developers looking for a CI/CD tool to automate their software development processes, such as:
- Continuous integration.
- Continuous delivery and deployment.
- Distributed architecture.
- Plugin ecosystem.
Jenkins allows programmers to continuously integrate their code changes automatically. This ensures that the most up-to-date code from multiple developers is tested and merged regularly. The CI/CD tool also automates the creation, testing, and deployment of applications across multiple environments such as development, staging, and production.
Developers can enjoy increased scalability and performance with Jenkins’ distributed architecture that distributes workloads across multiple machines. They can also define their entire software delivery workflow by creating complex build pipelines in Jenkins that are highly flexible and customizable with features like conditional logic, parallel execution, manual approvals, and steps.
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of Jenkins is the impressive plugin ecosystem that makes it highly extensible as a CI/CD tool. Jenkins has over 1,800 community-contributed plugins in various categories, such as platforms, UI, administration, build management, and source code management.
The Jenkins feature list continues with detailed reports on code coverage, build and test results, and more. And to keep your automation infrastructure secure, Jenkins works with security researchers and its core and plugin developers to fix vulnerabilities quickly.
Jenkins is an open source automation server. As such, developers can download and install it for free without worrying about license fees. But, while Jenkins itself is free, you’ll need to consider other potential costs when using the CI/CD tool for things like:
- Cloud hosting.
Developers who choose to run Jenkins on their own infrastructure will end up paying for hardware, servers, maintenance, and networking. These costs will vary depending on the requirements and scale of your desired Jenkins setup.
On the other hand, if you want to host your Jenkins configuration on a cloud platform such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), this will also incur costs. What you end up paying will depend on the cloud provider you choose, as well as storage, instance types, data transfer, and more.
Finally, come the costs associated with plugins. Jenkins has an extensive library of plugins which attracts many developers in the first place. Although many plugins are free and sufficient for most CI/CD needs, you may want to pay for some premium third-party plugins with more advanced enterprise features, priority support, etc. Keep this in mind because more commercial offerings come with a cost and will require a bigger budget when using Jenkins.
Advantages of Jenkins
Jenkins has several advantages or advantages in its favor as a CI/CD tool, including:
- Open source.
- Plugin ecosystem.
- Strong community.
Development teams and individual developers with limited budgets will appreciate that Jenkins is open source and allows you to take advantage of its features at no cost. It is extensive plugin ecosystem with solid documentation is another advantage, which makes Jenkins very flexible and extensible.
Developers can modify the Jenkins configuration to meet their unique needs, installing all the features they need to complete their projects. And they also have the power to create complex workflows that fit their needs. Finally, Jenkins’ large open source community means developers have strong support when they need it, as well as regular updates with new features, security patches, and bug fixes.
Disadvantages of Jenkins
While strong in many core areas, Jenkins could improve in others. Some of the disadvantages of the CI/CD tool include:
- Outdated interface.
- Dependence on plugins.
Some may find Jenkins’ user interface outdated and in need of a major facelift, especially compared to other CI/CD tools with a more modern aesthetic. It could also be more intuitive and user-friendly, especially for newer CI/CD tools. These aren’t the only issues with Jenkins’ user interface, as it can also feel sluggish and less responsive than its competitors, especially when loading on a local server with lots of plugins installed.
Another disadvantage of Jenkins is its complexity. Jenkins can have a steep learning curve, and setting up and maintaining the CI/CD tool can seem like a lot of work. And while Jenkins’ large plugin ecosystem is a plus, it can also be a downside if you rely heavily on certain plugins becoming obsolete, losing support, etc.
Alternatives to Jenkins
Jenkins is one of the most beloved and popular CI/CD tools on the market. That doesn’t mean it’s the perfect fit for your development team, though, which is why we’ve put together this short list of Jenkins alternatives.
CircleCI is a Jenkins alternative that makes sense for developers looking for something easy to use or to migrate to. This CI/CD tool is fast, has a free plan, and its Performance plan starts at $15 per month for five users.
Discover our CircleCI CI/CD Tool Review for more information.
GitLab CI/CD is another easy to use Jenkins alternative. It’s flexible and works with all major frameworks and languages, plus it’s secure with features like security test reports and dependency and container analysis and has strong monitoring and metrics. GitLab CI/CD has a free plan with limited functionality. Its Premium plan starts at $24 per user per month.
Learn more about the GitLab CI/CD website.
Looking for another easy to setup and maintain Jenkins alternative? Look no further than GitHub Actions, which offers tight integration with GitHub as a bonus. GitHub Actions is free to use with public repositories and has 2,000 free minutes per month with private repositories. The CI/CD tool offers additional minutes with pay-as-you-go pricing.
Check GitHub Actions Page for more.
Final thoughts on Jenkins
If you don’t mind its interface and you’re willing to invest time and effort in understanding, configuring and maintaining Jenkins, then it’s a solid choice as a CI/CD tool, especially if you’re an open fan. source. But if you are looking for something more modern, easier to configure and less to maintain, you can select one of the Jenkins alternatives listed above.