Today, the cloud sector is booming, and cloud applications are becoming increasingly popular. Yet, as the expectations and needs of end-users are growing — in an ever-evolving market — tech-driven businesses are under constant pressure to meet them, as fast as possible. To keep up with the changing requirements, teams have no other choice than to automate their DevOps practices.
Whether you’re looking to automate your DevOps practices, or you’re weighing whether you should invest in DevOps automation altogether, this article is for you.
What is DevOps automation, and why is it important?
DevOps automation, as the term implies, is when DevOps teams use specialized software tools and methodologies, throughout the application development lifecycle, to automate repetitive, manual tasks. This means human involvement in processes is reduced. This, in turn, minimizes errors and facilitates the feedback loops between Dev and Ops teams.
What’s more, automation promotes better collaboration, communication, and even innovation, as teams spend more time working together on more creative projects. As a result of streamlined communication and shorter feedback loops, the time-to-market decreases, too. Suffice it to say, automation is a fundamental DevOps practice that underpins all DevOps practices and processes.
Which DevOps practices should you automate?
The obvious answer to this question is everything. Besides, automation supports all DevOps practices and processes, right? However, which practices each team decides to automate, after all, highly depends on the goals of the business — among other things.
To give you an idea, below, we touch on some typical practices that teams usually automate.
1. Continuous integration / Continuous delivery (CI/CD)
CI/CD is a central practice for automation implementation in most SaaS businesses. By automating their CI/ CD pipeline, software development teams can optimize the quality of their code quality and increase software security. This leads to a much faster — and more efficient — application delivery to customers.
2. Infrastructure management
Manually managing infrastructure — configuring and doing maintenance work on networks, servers, etc. — is a time-consuming task. Once DevOps teams automate this practice, they can easily handle the infrastructure with minimal human interaction. They can also test their applications in a simulated production environment, as often as they need to. This way, they can resolve any deployment issues, early in the development process.
3. Application deployment
Automating application deployment plays an instrumental role in accelerating software delivery and improving overall performance. With the task of deployment being automated, DevOps engineers can instantly deploy software to production and test environments, dealing with potential issues on the spot. Also, automation helps expedite the feedback loop, enabling teams to implement tests and updates faster.
When it comes to testing, DevOps automation can provide a head start to DevOps teams — and some peace of mind, to be honest. Utilizing test automation tools, allows teams to perform any test they want; from basic functionality tests and code reviews to unit, UI, and quality smoke tests. Indeed, test automation saves teams much time and effort, while allowing them to check the functionality of their software more efficiently.
5. Logging and Monitoring
DevOps teams rely on logs to identify and examine issues better. And, since each application can generate many different log files, it’s only natural to apply automation, to ease and streamline this process. Also, as teams add new features in their applications — with almost every release — complexity increases, as well. Thus, by automating the monitoring part of the process too, DevOps teams can identify and resolve issues, before they reach end-users.
7 Benefits from automating your DevOps practices
Automating your DevOps practices can deliver a range of benefits that make it easier to achieve the goals of DevOps. Some of them, include:
1. Facilitating standardization
In order to address the challenges stemming from the evolving technological landscape, DevOps teams need to adopt standardization in all things DevOps. It’s not difficult to standardize workflows, technologies, protocols, and metrics, once DevOps practices are automated. Actually, it happens quite naturally.
2. Ensuring consistency
When DevOps teams automate and standardize their DevOps practices, they’re also making them consistent and predictable. An application — and its components — will always perform the same function, until the team decides to reconfigure it. This leaves little — if any — room for irregularities, and, thus, errors.
3. Speeding up the development and deployment processes
Speeding up the software development and deployment process is another benefit of automating DevOps practices. Teams can complete the lifecycle stages faster. And, thus, they can deliver faster, and respond faster to changes that come from market requirements.
4. Boosting scalability
Automated DevOps practices are inextricably linked with scalability. That’s because manual practices, more often than not, cannot be performed at scale. It takes too much time and, from a point on, the complexity increases beyond any measure. So, there needs to be a certain level of automation and standardization in place, to achieve scalability. Thankfully, with automated DevOps practices and tools, teams can scale their applications in almost any environment.
5. Increasing flexibility
When manual tasks and human errors are eliminated, work becomes much more efficient and flexible. When teams are working only on what matters, they can keep up with increasing end-user and market demands. Apart from that, they have more time for some brainstorming and out-of-the-box thinking. And, we all know that these are the keys to innovation.
6. Improving productivity
As mentioned, the automation of DevOps practices allows teams to keep everything under control, which lets them focus on more creative pursuits. Therefore, they can use their skills more effectively, for new ideas and high-value projects. In this respect, automation is a prerequisite for improving employee productivity.
7. Reducing production costs
Issues that occur in production lead to lost man hours, and — potentially high — remediation costs. With DevOps practices automatically completing mundane, robotic tasks successfully, no man hour is lost, and costs do not go through the roof. On the contrary, teams can avoid such unnecessary expenses. At the same time, they can work on creative projects that may generate higher revenues and help achieve business goals.
When automating your DevOps practices, think ‘efficiency’
When you’re in the process of automating your DevOps practices, first, you need to discriminate which ones can accommodate automation. By all means, not all businesses — and not all DevOps teams — have the same needs and goals. You need to ask yourself which of the practices that you apply can increase efficiency, if automated. Once you clarify this, you can put your Devops automation pipeline to good use. That’s how you can facilitate a smooth workflow in the DevOps lifecycle, and significantly improve performance and overall productivity.