Automation is a must for organizations looking to maintain optimal DevOps performance in today’s competitive landscape.
Like many other technical fields, automation has brought an endless list of benefits to DevOps, primarily in automating repeatable tasks to increase work efficiency. A study by Deloitte discovered that over 50% of enterprises were able to enhance their current products, improve business operations, and make better decisions with this technology.
Automation massively benefits Agile organizations, as they are far likelier to succeed in IT ventures compared to businesses that don’t embrace this technology.
What is the role of automation in DevOps and how can organizations start embracing it?
The Benefits of Automation in DevOps
Traditionally, IT teams have had to create new environments each time they’re working on a project, which takes a lot of time and resources. This approach, combined with other antiquated software development practices (e.g. manual testing), results in slow software releases and poor business agility.
In DevOps, however, the product development lifecycle is drastically shorter, allowing businesses to cope with rapidly changing demands. DevOps teams are expected to work efficiently, release product iterations faster, and solve software issues quickly—three requirements that cannot be achieved with manual work.
The Core Principles of DevOps
The core principles of DevOps (image source)
With automation, businesses create an Agile development environment that enables rapid innovation, eliminates the risks of human error, and leads to higher-quality releases (even with shortened project lifecycles).
Some other benefits of automation in DevOps include:
- Significantly boosting the productivity of development teams
- Saving IT budgets due to cost-efficient practices
- Easing the addition or upgrade of assets in enterprise IT environments
- Improving product quality and reliability
- Increasing successful digital transformation efforts
Another benefit of automation in DevOps is that it can be implemented in any business IT scenario. Regardless of whether your organization is working on a small project or a multi-million dollar tender, there will always be room for automation to come in and improve operations.
Best Practices for DevOps Automation
Focus on Continuous Delivery
Cutting down on mundane, repetitive work while using repeatable processes (e.g., templates) are two key concepts of DevOps automation.
These objectives can be achieved through continuous delivery, which is defined as the ability to:
“Get changes of all types—including new features, configuration changes, bug fixes and experiments—into production, or into the hands of users, safely and quickly in a sustainable way.”
The Cycle of Continuous Delivery In DevOps
The cycle of continuous delivery in DevOps (image source)
To start with continuous delivery, organizations should automatically test their codebase whenever a change is made.
To fully achieve continuous delivery, automated testing must be implemented in conjunction with deployable systems—systems or applications that can be deployed with zero downtime after an upgrade or modification.
Setting up the foundations for continuous delivery does take time and money. Fortunately, the long-term benefits organizations gain from DevOps automation more than make up for the initial resources invested.
Leverage the Benefits of Infrastructure-as-Code
Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) is growing in popularity in the software development landscape for many good reasons.
For starters, IaC allows developers to modularize their work. This turns applications into modules or “blocks” that can be deployed readily in any environment—much like a starter kit.
Instead of wasting time configuring hardware and operating systems to install an application, developers use code-defined instructions (i.e. scripts) to manage IT infrastructures efficiently through automation.
Consider a network admin trying to install MySQL in every office workstation. Prior to IaC the network admin would have had to attend to each workstation to install the executable, verify that servers are running properly, set up databases, etc.
With IaC, the same team member just has to run a single script to install and configure MySQL for every workstation—the same task, but this time taking only the press of a button.
The IaC advantage is most apparent in cloud environments with many environments to manage, particularly in enterprises where thousands of cloud instances exist at one time. This frees DevOps teams from a lot of repetitive work, enabling them to focus on higher-level development tasks instead.
Take Your Time with Automation
DevOps automation is a continuous process. There will always be room for improvement as technology advances and Agile practices evolve.
The very definition of DevOps advocates for the continuous iteration of development cycles to bring constant improvements to software releases.
Ideally, organizations should move steadily in implementing automation in DevOps. Instead of trying to automate every process from the start, focus on the most repeatable tasks first (e.g. deploying an instance for testing purposes). Then, move on to more complex tasks.
Invest in the Right Automation Tools
Using the right tools is crucial in practicing effective DevOps automation.
The type of tools (and the quantity) differ based on the organization’s IT infrastructure and needs. For example, an enterprise running its workloads on Azure will require a different set of tools compared to an organization using AWS environments.
The question is, how can enterprises choose the right tools to use for their DevOps processes?
A good rule of thumb is to identify the tasks your organization is looking to automate. A common list of these tasks includes:
- Code testing
- Deploying test environments
- Running tests and generating reports
- Deploying changes after testing
- Collecting feedback from the production line after deploying
Identifying these tasks provides clarity and guidance on which automation tools to invest in. This ensures your organization only makes use of tools that fit its automation goals, which prevents unnecessary spending due to unused or underutilized resources.
How CodeLogic Eases Enterprise DevOps automation
Rapid delivery and frequent software changes are the bread and butter of automation in DevOps. However, organizations must understand the impact of their software changes before they’re implemented.
With a code dependency mapping tool like CodeLogic, enterprises have an intuitive, complete view of their application architecture as well as the ability to observe every dependency between applications and database assets in detail.
This allows enterprises to see how a proposed change will affect other applications and resources in the ecosystem to stop risky software changes from being implemented—before a single line of code is written.
CodeLogic also assesses the complexity of tasks by identifying how dependencies will be impacted by a change, allowing enterprises to see whether a process can be automated without any problems.
The platform is fully automated, so developers don’t have to spend time manually collecting data to run effective impact analysis and risk assessments, further improving the performance of DevOps teams. With CodeLogic, your DevOps team gets the freedom it needs to work more efficiently, leading to higher quality software, faster project cycles, and happier customers.