DevOps Automation: A Guide to Getting Started

It is tempting when implementing DevOps to seek to automate everything you can find that can be automated. This is a temptation to be resisted. Great DevOps automation starts with great manual processes. When you take an ineffective, flawed manual process and automate it, you’re automating a bad process. The process remains just as bad as ever, it just happens faster and more frequently. When you’ve determined that your manual process is highly optimized and effective, it’s time for someone to step up and suggest that process be automated.

The Path of DevOps Automation

Consider automation to be a journey that has a definite beginning and an unclear ending. Unclear because great automation of DevOps, by definition, should end in continuous iteration of development cycles that yield constant continuous improvement.

Begin by gradually automating development processes that will yield optimum improvement. Anything that’s repetitive, especially if its banal and routine, is a candidate for automation. Once you’ve identified your automatable process, begin searching for the right tool to accomplish it.

This is an important point. Many see DevOps tools or vendors of tools who work to convince them that theirs is the best possible tool for the purpose. The problem is that there’s no such thing. Every environment is different, and different tools will suit different processes in each environment differently. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of selecting a tool and then finding processes to automate with it.

It is usually far more efficient to plan automation and select tools based on sequences of tasks. For example, as we focus on development, the sequence might be:

  • Develop code
  • Testing the code
  • Deployment of the infrastructure for testing
  • Run tests
  • Deploy the code upon passing of all tests
  • Collect production metrics
  • Orchestrate the DevOps pipeline and return the feedback from production

Benefits of DevOps Automation

Just about everything is benefiting from automation these days, and DevOps is no exception. As with most process-driven environments, automation enables speed, scale, consistency, and feedback. All four are critical to the success of an iterative constant-improvement environment like DevOps. The following are the top benefits of DevOps automation:

Speed

Every manual process that is automated enjoys significant increases in speed, so the more automated processes the faster the overall engine becomes. Add to this a dramatic reduction or elimination of user errors.

Scale

Many manual processes simply cannot scale because humans cannot execute the necessary tasks quickly enough to complete them in the time allotted. As data entities grow larger, the need for automation grows along with them. Automated systems have far greater elasticity, so additional resources can be provisioned as they are required to accommodate scale.

Consistency

Automated processes execute exactly the same way every time they execute. They do not vary. They are not subject to external conditions such as mood, distraction, or other human elements. Consistency of operations brings control, which reduces risk and adds speed.

Feedback

In a well-automated environment, software can request feedback from users while they are using it. Many information-gathering efforts happen with greater assurance and consistency when they are automatically executed. This feedback in turn informs the next round of changes needed which contributes powerfully to the goal of achieving constant improvement.

The Goal of DevOps Automation

In a well-automated environment, software can request feedback from users while they are using it. Many information-gathering efforts happen with greater assurance and consistency when they are automatically executed. This feedback in turn informs the next round of changes needed which contributes powerfully to the goal of achieving constant improvement.

Planning a DevOps Initiative? We can Help!

Struggling to achieve alignment and collaboration within your organization? Not sure how to begin? We can help. Tiempo has assisted many organizations with adopting DevOps, and completing successful initiatives with minimal disruptive. From strategy and planning to implementation, Tiempo has the resources you need to make your initiative a success.

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