Automation is the key to digital success in the next industrial revolution and DevOps is one of the areas where automating tasks generate the biggest returns.
What are some practical steps that enterprises can take to begin automating their DevOps processes today?
The growth of DevOps automation and why it matters
The DevOps movement is expected to be valued at $6.6 billion by 2022, showing the growing eagerness of companies to adopt it. As organizations tie DevOps in their operations, it becomes more and more important to automate tasks to further improve efficiency and speed up development.
The explosive growth of DevOps over time (Image Source).
It’s a known fact that elite organizations automate the majority of their DevOps tasks, which is marked by the popularity of tools like Jenkins and Travis. A PMI survey in 2019 discovered 77% of high-performing organizations had three times better Agile performance, and you can bet automation is a major contributor to that statistic.
So, where do the benefits of DevOps automation come from?
- First, engineers spend less time on menial and repetitive tasks. This encourages innovation, as engineers have more time to spend on higher-level development work. In a fast-moving world, companies capable of delivering innovative solutions quickly will gain a serious advantage over lax rivals.
- DevOps automation also improves the success of projects since engineers receive feedback for their work quicker. Making software changes; both major and minor will be much less of a headache with integrated change management tools. This hastens delivery times due to shorter testing cycles and increased self-service, that is one of DevOps’s most important concept.
- Enterprises will finally be able to embrace rapid software development without worrying about breaking critical IT processes thanks to automation. That is why automation should be treated as one of the pillars of successful development, not as a nice-to-have change as many businesses treat it.
How can enterprises begin automating their DevOps processes?
1. Continuous monitoring
There is a colossal amount of data in an average enterprise’s IT infrastructure. This can affect DevOps in two ways. For one thing, organizations may struggle to make sense of the information they have. Further, DevOps processes will suffer if they are fed irrelevant data. Organizations can overcome this problem by deploying continuous monitoring with automation to filter critical logs and events from the noise.
Automation allows teams to detect important events and alert developers to take action, with some tools even offering preventive maintenance to reduce security threats. This eliminates continuous manual monitoring, which is nowhere near as efficient as automation and is highly impractical for IT infrastructures.
2. Continuous testing
Continuous testing started as a way to cut down long testing cycles. However, it has become a must-have component for successful DevOps implementations today. Just as with monitoring, employees do not have excess time to test components manually. Manual tests should only be reserved for mission-critical units anything more than that is an unnecessary waste of company resources.
Organizations can begin with automated unit tests and work their way up to more complex components. The feedback gathered from automated tests can be utilized by developers and other departments like network and security teams. Most test automation tools (e.g. Selenium) include built-in integrations with popular enterprise development tools to make tracking and fixing issues easy.
Test automation reduces the burden of QA teams since they do not need to check every pull request for bugs and compatibility. This improves software quality and Agile development as there are fewer concerns over systems breaking down as a result of faulty changes.
3. Automated provisioning
Automated provisioning provides and allocates additional resources for enterprises on-demand. With automated provisioning, organizations can scale efficiently without the usual risks that come with scaling. This dynamic allocation of resources will benefit enterprises a ton in common scenarios like distributing servers during peak demand or creating temporary container instances for staging.
For example, an organization can deploy additional cloud storage automatically whenever usage exceeds a defined threshold. Without this ability, developers would have to make the changes themselves, which comes with the risk of downtime if they did not react fast enough. Tools like Chef, Puppet, and Ansible are great starting places for enterprises to dabble in automated provisioning.
4. Compliance management
When it comes to enterprise data, there is no getting away from compliance management, especially in the face of increasingly strict data privacy laws. The problem here is that developers want to build things and not worry about whether their solutions are compliant or not. A dedicated compliance team is one solution, but it can delay project deliveries if there is a disconnect with developers.
Instead, organizations should automate governance and security processes by using security-as-code (also known as SecDevOps) and infrastructure-as-code (IaC) deployments. Development processes should also include compliance by design rather than handling it separately. This can be implemented in tandem with automated tests for maximum efficiency.
DevOps complements compliance management as well; since enterprise architectures are likely to be built with a modular design (i.e. microservices). This makes auditing easier due to cleaner code and fewer monoliths, which can be challenging to assess.
5. Improve visibility
Issues are bound to arise in DevOps implementations, especially as enterprises are first getting started. While continuous monitoring and testing can negate these errors, they would not work unless organizations have full visibility over their IT ecosystems. Poor asset visibility is akin to finding a needle in a haystack – it’s slow and tedious.
Improved asset visibility enables organizations to fine-tune their DevOps and track issues back to their roots. Bug fixes are made easier, while organizations save plenty of time from not having to take a deep dive into their code every time something goes wrong. Collaboration is also improved as developers work better when they have a full understanding of the organization’s architecture.
The importance of DevOps automation
DevOps by itself will benefit enterprises, but it won’t be optimal without automation. By adding automation to the mix, enterprises can improve agility, software quality, team collaboration eliminating manual work and mitigating lengthy processes.