The State of Event-Driven Automation

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Talking about competition can be hard. It’s understandable. Product positioning can be touchy subjects especially when those use cases overlap.

In the DevOps space, event-driven architectures are certainly not a new concept. Companies like Netflix, LinkedIn, and Facebook have in-house tools built specifically for this type of automation. However, Relay’s mission is make it easy for everyone to build event-driven workflows – not the Netflix-es of the world.

As mentioned in our launch post, there are certainly other event-driven automation tools that solve similar problems to Relay. Rather than circle around each other like at a middle school dance, we want to talk about how we’re similar or different to other products in this space.

The goal here is not to provide a deep analysis of each tool, but instead to motivate why we created Relay.

Zapier

Zapier is one of the frontrunners in inspiring a generation of no code and low code tools. Zapier’s brilliant ability to seamlessly integrate a whole ecosystem of business applications into a common workflow is what made automation accessible to a huge audience. Zapier automates everything from Salesforce to Gmail to Dropbox to Slack and more.

Zapier connects different business tools together like gmail and dropbox

Like Zapier, Relay provides a common workflow powered by third-party triggers. What makes Relay different is our focus on DevOps use cases and targeting a more technical DevOps engineer who is comfortable with a code editing workflow. We’re not trying to build a general platform — in fact, we think the majority of events in DevOps will come down to a small set of triggers.

Stackstorm

StackStorm has been around since 2012 as the “IFTTT for Ops” platform. StackStorm is an open-sourced, event-driven automation platform for the data center focused on solving for automated remediation, continuous deployment, automated security response, and more. It provides sensors, actions, and rules which can be combined to solve very sophisticated remediation actions.

Stackstorm is an event driven automation tool for datacenter workloads

Like StackStorm, Relay is also looking to solve similar use cases for an DevOps audience. Unlike StackStorm, Relay is a SaaS service that will provide a dramatically simpler onboarding and install experience and a stronger emphasis on public cloud and API-based workloads.

Argo

In a similar vein, Argo is a collection of Kubernetes-native projects that solve continuous deployment challenges for cloud native applications. Argo has some very advanced functionality for deploying Kubernetes-based applications, including canary templates for progressive deployment.

Argo is an event-driven continuous deployment tool for Kubernetes

Argo is best-suited for users deeply familiar with the Kubernetes ecosystem and tooling. Interacting with the product is all done through the Kubernetes API, that provides resources for everything from Argo Events to Workflows and Pipelines.

In comparison to both Brigade and Argo, Relay is built for automating workloads well outside the Kubernetes ecosystem as well as for users who may be less familiar with Kubernetes-native tools.

GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions is a CI/CD-focused automation platform built into GitHub. Tightly integrated with your code repository, GitHub Actions makes it incredibly simple to trigger software workflows based on any GitHub event like merging a Pull Request. By combining with Packages, GitHub Actions elegantly solves code delivery, package management, and distribution.

GitHub Actions is a CI/CD platform for GitHub

Similar to Github Actions, Relay is focused on building a developer-focused workflow for making software automation easy. Unlike GitHub Actions, Relay’s perspective is that git-based triggers or Github-sourced events are not the only types of triggers that are needed for DevOps teams.

The ability to listen for cloud events, incidents, monitoring events and more is critical to eliminating the low-value tasks operators spend their time doing today so that they can focus on the high-value work for their teams.

AWS Lambda & Azure Functions & Google Functions

Tools like AWS Lambda, Azure Functions, or Google Functions can certainly be used to author your own event-driven workflows. However, authoring these functions requires a lot of boilerplate implementation of authentication and configuration to the target services. Additionally, the exercise of assembling these functions together into a workflow that can solve DevOps automation challenges is largely left up to the reader.

Comparing AWS Lambda vs Azure Functions vs Google Functions Photo credit: AWS Lambda vs Azure Functions vs Google Functions

In contrast, Relay provides out-of-the-box integrations and workflows that make it simple to compose together the tools that you need to solve your problem.

Conclusion

Event-driven automation is just getting started. Is there a project we missed? Let us know. Think we got it wrong? Would love to hear about it.

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