Software development teams are under constant pressure to deliver new products and features to end-users. Many companies have shifted to a DevOps culture to deliver new products quickly without diminishing their business value. In fact, according to Statista, DevOps has become a staple in software development, with 80% of the respondents stating that the practice is essential for their operations.
The use of automation in DevOps has many benefits: it reduces downtime for IT teams, increases efficiency for business operations, improves quality assurance, and decreases costs. Introducing automation to your software development lifecycle can not only improve your software products but also enhance the end-user experience.
In this blog post, we’ll cover how DevOps automation works and how it enhances the software development lifecycle.
What Is DevOps and How Does It Work?
Let’s start by defining both DevOps and automation separately to understand each term better.
DevOps brings together development (Dev) and operations (Ops). It’s a way to optimize workflows by combining their strengths. With automation, DevOps can make work more efficient and flexible by eliminating manual tasks that are prone to human error.
DevOps is also an approach to software that delivers business value faster and enables responsiveness through rapid, quality delivery. By bridging the gaps between development and operations, DevOps practices eliminate data silos and enhance communication.
DevOps practices move ideas and projects from development to production faster, enabling rapid changes to both code and infrastructure that would otherwise be impossible under the traditional, manual software development paradigm.
How Does DevOps Work?
DevOps practices are a subset of tasks and methods that stem from the agile methodology. DevOps influences how applications are built throughout their lifecycle and the planning, development, building, releasing, monitoring, and management of your software product. Just like the DevOps cycle diagram shows, each phase relies on the others and supports continuous delivery at each step of the project.
As we mentioned, in the DevOps model, teams are no longer siloed, and both dev and ops teams work together across the application lifecycle and the DevOps pipeline.
For a DevOps team to work correctly, organizations may need a tech stack change, and a culture change, which is reflected in the 6 C’s of the DevOps cycle that make up the entire DevOps lifecycle. Let’s look at them to understand how DevOps work.
- Continuous Business Planning: Identifies the skills, outcomes, and resources required.
- Collaborative Development: Develops a sketch plan and builds the software.
- Continuous Testing: Helps to increase the efficiency and speed of development by using unit testing and integration testing.
- Continuous Release and Deployment: Integrates Continuous Delivery pipeline with code reviews for easy code checks-in.
- Continuous Monitoring: Monitors changes and resolves errors or mistakes on an ongoing basis.
- Customer Feedback and Optimization: This allows you to receive immediate feedback from customers regarding your product, and you can then make adjustments accordingly.
Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s talk about DevOps automation.
What Is DevOps Automation?
The premise of “automate everything” permeates the DevOps practice. Since most of the tasks that compose the DevOps lifecycle are repeatable, they’re ripe for automation. In DevOps, automation starts from code generation on the developer’s local machine and continues until the code is deployed, and even after during the monitoring phase.
There are many kinds of automation processes in software development, including IT automation, robotic process automation (RPA), AI automation, machine learning, and deep learning. They can all be leveraged in the DevOps processes.
Automation simplifies the DevOps practice and makes the processes faster and more efficient, enabling developers and operations teams to build, test, deploy, and maintain code in less time with no mistakes than manual practices would. Automation helps companies build continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD), and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines.
How Automation Enhances DevOps
Automation is crucial if you want to achieve your DevOps objectives of delivering high quality and value through frequent and fast releases. Let’s see some of the benefits of DevOps automation.
Automating software enables you to configure and improve your processes even after you’ve changed pieces of your tech stack. DevOps automation tools and process automation give you greater operational efficiency and flexibility in terms of both scope and functionality. Plus, automating your pipeline is faster and more cost-effective than training someone to keep track of everything.
Consistent testing enables DevOps engineers to spot bugs faster. Automation makes it possible for you to identify errors and correct behaviors throughout the deployment process. In a highly automated environment, results are always consistent and predictable, thanks to the DevOps toolchain.
Automated processes give you the ability to scale up as your business grows whereas with manual processes, your capacity is limited by the number of trained staff in your company. DevOps automation provides automated, cloud-based tools that grant unrestricted scalability to meet your company’s requirements.
Which DevOps Processes Should Be Automated?
Automation relies primarily on automated testing tools and pre-setting configuration to automate the lifecycle. Let’s take a closer look at the DevOps processes you can—and should—automate.
Test automation decreases the amount of human intervention in the testing process. Automating test scripts and tools can be used to verify an application’s functionality.
In DevOps, automated provisioning is a vital capability that enables you to deliver computing capacity on-demand without requiring manual intervention. By providing a flexible, scalable infrastructure that is highly scalable and has dynamic resource allocation, the organization can deliver apps faster than before.
DevOps tools enable synchronization and deployment of resources across the dynamic infrastructure. Deployment automation provides a resilient platform that keeps computing resources (manually and automatically provisioned) in sync as changes are implemented.
Continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) processes can be automated to support agile monitoring, integrations, and testing to deliver and deploy changes to the application faster.
The goal of infrastructure automation is to automate tasks and reduce the human input to better control all the hardware, software, network, operating systems (OS), and data storage components involved in delivering information technology services and solutions.
Continuously monitoring your application performance becomes harder when developers are adding new features every day. With the help of DevOps practices, you have access to a wide range of tools and methods to monitor applications using a dedicated interface.
Log management involves handling log events generated by every software application and the infrastructure on which the software runs. Log management automation processes include collecting logs, aggregating, parsing, storing, analyzing, searching, archiving, and destroying them, all with the goal of troubleshooting and gaining business insights while implementing compliance and security measures to your code.
Tips Before You Automate Your DevOps Pipeline
Now that we’ve covered DevOps automation and talked about the benefits, let’s take a look at some tips to consider before you start automating your DevOps pipeline.
- Choose open standards: Even though your contributors and team may change, your tooling doesn’t have to. The onboarding process is simplified, and specialized training can be reduced using tooling that follows standard and open standards. The move to the cloud has also led to the development of open community standards for packaging, runtime, configuration, networking, and even storage, such as those in Kubernetes.
- Build a Continuous Delivery Pipeline (CDP): A CDP creates a workflow that enables software products to go from ideation to release faster. A CDP allows for the delivery of smaller code releases and increases business agility to face the changing needs of the market.
- Use dynamic variables: In the long run, prioritizing reusable code will reduce rework and duplication. Using externally defined variables in scripts and specialized tools is an easy way to adapt your automation to different environments without having to change the code itself. Also, remember to hold your DevOps automations to the same standards as you do your regular code/feature development. There should be peer review, re-usability, modularity, scalability, source control, and unit tests..
- Go headless: Traditional or monolithic CMSs aren’t built to support DevOps practices. Headless CMS, on the contrary, are created with automation and modularity in mind, which gives them an edge when it comes to delivering content and supporting software development.
- Mind MACH architecture: Microservice architecture enables modular software development, which is in line with supporting a Continuous Delivery Pipeline. The MACH architecture gives you more freedom to improve, scale, or update these independent pieces.
- Enable AI:Data-driven AI algorithms can identify specific patterns within DevOps processes to help identify bottlenecks and deal with these challenges. DevOps tools can also benefit from artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to monitoring development and production.
- Integrate Marketing With DevOps: DevOps practices with other parts of your company has the potential to drive productivity. An agile, DevOps driven management style combines marketing, development, and operations functions while creating an interdependency between teams to create cohesive action.
- Use flexible tooling: There aren’t always tools that fit every situation, but using a DevOps tool that allows you to change technologies will reduce rework when a company changes direction. With a solution that works with any cloud and offers a wide range of partners and integrations, you can define your own unique set of best practices and overcome any toolchain constraints.
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