Looking into DevOps automation? We explain how automation can improve your process, how to prioritize which tasks to automate, best practices, and how to avoid common mistakes.
What is DevOps automation?
DevOps automation uses tools to perform tasks with limited manual intervention in order to streamline development. Automation is one of the critical principles in DevOps and has benefits such as increasing productivity and scalability while reducing chances of failure.
The meaning of DevOps automation is essentially limiting human intervention as much as possible when facilitating DevOps practices. Using automation, teams can eliminate repetitive tasks, speed up processes, and scale quicker.
Generally, these are some of the areas that teams focus on for DevOps automation depending on business goals, customer needs, and resources available:
- Continuous integration and deployment
- Software testing
- Infrastructure management
- Log management
What are the benefits of DevOps automation?
DevOps processes such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, and analytics can all be done manually, but that takes up a significant amount of time. As a result, instead of focusing on developing new features, teams spend far too much time working through manual DevOps practices.
There isn’t enough time to grow or innovate, but more than that, manual processes take up a lot of resources. Large teams are required, but as teams scale up the risk of poor communication and coordination will increase. It’s a domino effect that lacks efficiency or productivity, but DevOps automation tools and processes help alleviate these risks.
DevOps automation ensures a consistent approach to processes rather than haphazard manual work. With so many things getting lost in the shuffle, using DevOps automation tools helps teams make processes happen at a more predictable cadence with consistent results. In addition, using DevOps automation tools, teams can focus on other tasks without losing consistency in their operations.
Another benefit of automation is speed. Teams can use automation to accelerate processes instead of spending copious amounts of time on manual processes. As a result, continuous integration becomes faster, as does deployment. Automation eliminates the need for coordination among different team members or the need for manual execution and repetitive tasks.
Implementing DevOps automation
Implementing automation for DevOps practices will look different from team to team. Setting up the groundwork for automation is a time-consuming process in and of itself, and it requires some upfront work.
Teams need to identify what processes will benefit most from automation and how much work is required for the automation. For example, there might be frequently used processes that are straightforward and thus are faster to automate. That might be an easy way to start and get the ball rolling before tackling more complicated processes.
The key parts of the discussion are identifying the right DevOps automation tools and practices, alongside the level of work required to set up and test the automation. Think about business goals, customer needs, and what areas make the most sense to prioritize with automation. All automation will have some upfront cost in setting it up. Weigh that cost against the time and effort saved to see when the automation will pay for itself. This will help you prioritize your automation projects.
Another crucial point for consideration is standardization. To what extent will automation help standardize processes, and where is that needed the most? For example, some teams may prioritize using DevOps automation tools for the testing process to ensure that each new addition of code has been thoroughly and consistently tested before release. Doing so eliminates manual processes, but it also eliminates manual error. Manual testers can forget to run certain tests, or misinterpret results. Automation provides both speed and consistency.
Let’s look at some examples of DevOps automation to understand how others approach implementation. Teams can use DevOps automation tools to configure software environments based on needs. In addition, DevOps automation tools can be used for testing and deploying code completed during the integration phase to standardize the testing process.
However, when DevOps automation is implemented, there needs to be some consideration around flexibility and adaptability. As the product changes and improves, the automated processes may also need to shift to account for that.
Another important note is that automation doesn’t completely eliminate human intervention - it’s more of a drastic reduction. Therefore, team members will still need to monitor DevOps automation tools to ensure that everything is on track and catch any issues proactively.
What DevOps automation tools should I use?
The DevOps tools used depend very much on what types of automation you need. When evaluating solutions, think about flexibility and business needs. One tool likely won’t be able to do it all, but it should be flexible enough to help teams adapt as the business evolves.
Many great tools can help across each area of DevOps automation, including continuous integration and deployment. Some popular tools include Jenkins, TeamCity, and Bamboo for that purpose. Other tools, such as Docker and Kubernetes, may also prove useful for teams depending on the automation needed by containerizing code and allowing for automatic orchestration.
How can Blameless help?
Ultimately, successful DevOps automation is very much dependent on the tools used. With Blameless, incident management becomes a streamlined process that enables teams to address incidents with more confidence. Blameless initiates task assignments, centralizes context, and captures event data in real-time to ensure teams have all the resources needed to stay focused during crucial moments. Blameless allows teams to access real-time data and save relevant details for blameless retrospectives (or postmortems) after, allowing them to learn from the incident. Learn more about how Blameless helps your team with automated incident management by requesting a free demo today.