Few things are more satisfying than a properly automated DevOps pipeline. The widespread adoption of DevOps practices and agile development workflows has created entire ecosystems of developer tools, DevOps strategies, acronyms, and industry terms. If you’re unfamiliar with a particular focus area, it can be difficult to grasp how that topic relates to other DevOps concepts. We created this blog post to demystify some common topics as they relate to DevOps automation. Whether you’re looking to improve your organization's existing DevOps automation, or you’re weighing whether you should invest in DevOps automation altogether, this post is for you.
There are numerous advantages to automating your DevOps pipelines, let’s explore further.
Rapid Application Development
Automating tasks ensures they are performed whether team members are available to trigger the process or not, eliminating delays in development and deployment. Additionally, automated scripts and functions provide a standard template that can be used in multiple deployments, so you don’t have to write configuration and code files from scratch and fewer human errors occur.
By eliminating repetitive tasks, automation frees up DevOps engineers to focus on improving business value and respond quickly to changes in market requirements.
Reduced Production Costs
Automation reduces production issues that result from human error, eliminating remediation efforts and costs. Automating mundane, robotic tasks also lets developers work on high-value projects that generate higher revenues and help achieve business goals.
Automation additionally decreases DevOps labor needs by cutting down on these manual tasks, which, in turn, reduces the budget for software development.
Improved Developer Productivity
Automation lets you focus on tasks that machines can’t handle, including idea generation, problem solving, brainstorming, and pipeline process improvement. This allows development teams to use their personal and interpersonal skills for improved organization, planning, teamwork, and decision-making. Automation also enables teams to start prioritizing business logic related tasks to improve their day-to-day processes.
With automated scripts, DevOps teams can rapidly spin up new infrastructure from both on-premises and cloud infrastructure to match workload needs. Administrators can also apply the same configuration to multiple instances located in varying deployment environments so the application will never run out of resources.
Enhanced Project Transparency
Automated security testing and monitoring tools are good at highlighting faults that result in system bottlenecks and security incidents. Teams can deploy these tools across the DevOps pipeline to provide visibility into whether each component is working as expected. Automated log management also enables you to pinpoint entities responsible for specific issues in the pipeline.
By providing visibility into application events, performance metrics, and security vulnerabilities, automation fosters improved collaboration among DevOps teams.
Best Practices for Automating Daily DevOps Tasks
While practices may differ for different use cases, this section discusses some commonly recommended steps for successfully implementing DevOps automation.
Embrace Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure-as-code frameworks enable the setup, configuration, and maintenance of IT resources using pre-defined templates. This software-defined approach allows for the instantaneous deployment and update of infrastructure services, enabling scalability and agility.
Build a Collaborative Culture
Successful automation requires transparency, shared responsibility, and teamwork. Enable collaboration across multiple departments/teams to facilitate faster incident management as well as a shared understanding of DevOps processes.
Implement Shift-Left for Security
Implement security checks and tests earlier in the development cycle. This eliminates the bottlenecks in the CI/CD pipeline caused by multiple changes recommended by test and QA teams when security tests are only performed just before deployment.
Utilize Version Control and Tracking Tools
While DevOps emphasizes rapid release and update cycles, development and production teams need tools that create consistency in the deployment environment. Version control helps provide a common codebase and workflow for collaborating teams. Version control repositories enable the management of complex repositories using templates with merge requests and approvals.
Follow the Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY) Approach
The DRY approach lets you reduce redundancy and repetition by dividing code into modules so that each object has a single, unambiguous representation. This minimizes the amount of code developers need to write, saving time and effort and reducing weaknesses in the code.
Prioritize Infrastructure and Event Logging
Logs provide operational insights to DevOps teams, helping them to understand the behavior and performance of their deployments in production. Logs provide invaluable data to help you tweak code and infrastructure configurations for improved performance.
Adopt Immutable Infrastructure
With immutable infrastructure, components cannot be modified after they’ve been deployed in order to avoid configuration drift. Immutable infrastructure typically relies on automated deployment frameworks that can perform upgrades by spinning up new instances and then terminating the old ones once the new ones are verified as running correctly.
This lets you not only eliminate typical downtimes with infrastructure updates but also improve incident resolution and error testing.
Popular DevOps Automation Tools
While the adoption of best practices is extremely crucial for achieving DevOps automation goals, teams should additionally leverage tools for comprehensive automation.
An open-source framework that provides a consistent interface to enable automation through infrastructure as code. Terraform lets teams manage the entire lifecycle of cloud services using declarative configuration files.
Ansible provides an enterprise framework for the creation, sharing, and management of automation scripts (playbooks). Ansible works by connecting to your nodes and pushing small programs to them called "Ansible modules".
GitHub is a popular version control platform built using Git. Additionally, GitHub offers CI/CD pipeline capabilities through GitHub Actions for testing, releasing, and deploying software.
GitLab is another cloud-based repository hosting manager built using Git. GitLab offers users version control along with a DevOps platform that includes project planning, monitoring, and security capabilities.
Jenkins is an open-source CI/CD automation platform. It includes an extensive plugin ecosystem that enables DevOps teams to build and test products continuously and also offers a web interface that’s easy to set up for rapid error checks and remediation.
This is a configuration management tool that automates application delivery, integrations, and security and compliance. Chef translates administrative tasks into reusable scripts that you can use to ensure node configurations match the desired state.
Better automation for DevOps and SecOps
While DevOps practices enable you to achieve quicker release and deployment cycles, modern development pipelines are composed of multiple tech stacks, which may hinder your collaboration efforts.
We created Blink to help operation teams achieve flow in their everyday work, by creating automated workflows across the cloud tools engineering teams use every day. The impact of adopting a low-code/no-code platform like Blink is happier, more productive operations teams and better, faster business continuity. At Blink, we believe every team can achieve operational excellence by having a clear system-of-action for your DevOps and SecOps workflows.
The best part? The low-code/no-code future for cloud operations is available today. Sign up to create a Blink account.