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Understanding the DevOps Automation Landscape

Investing in DevOps automation can mean many different things. In this post, we will look at some of the different categories and opportunities for automation.

devops-landscape

Software development teams rely on DevOps practices to efficiently deliver products and features through structured collaboration and shorter release cycles. Teams create pipelines that use automation to speed up slow, manual processes and enable frequent updates and releases. This automation involves plugins and frameworks that perform DevOps processes while requiring very little human assistance, eliminating human error and repetitive tasks, thus in turn, further streamlining DevOps pipelines. 

This post breaks down some common DevOps topics, and explores the ways teams can successfully automate their daily DevOps processes.

Understanding DevOps Automation

Engineers apply DevOps practices across a variety of environments and tech stacks. Managing applications typically involves making changes to components in these environments, which teams can often find challenging and time-consuming. Furthermore, performing these changes manually frequently leads to compounding delays in the delivery pipeline. 

With DevOps automation processes, you can streamline DevOps pipelines by carrying out manual and repetitive tasks without human intervention. Automation combines pre-set configurations and infrastructure-as-code tools to perform these tasks, with tools codifying standardized practices, workflows, and processes to reduce production risks that result from human error. 

DevOps automation is an extensive discipline that covers multiple focus areas, including infrastructure and test automation. Infrastructure automation involves the development of reusable scripts and functions that software frameworks can use to configure resources for IT deployments; meanwhile, test automation involves the use of advanced scanning tools to execute various test cases that expose gaps in the application’s performance/security. Both infrastructure and test automation reduce human effort and interaction with IT systems, thus enhancing DevOps delivery. 

Core Application Delivery Practices for Automation

Developers can apply automation across all areas of the DevOps lifecycle, with the processes to be automated mainly relying on technical feasibility and organizational needs. These are some of the types of processes you should consider automating:

Infrastructure Provisioning

This involves leveraging virtualization technologies and cloud computing platforms to deliver rapidly available IT resources without having to physically provide and manage infrastructure. 

Infrastructure-as-code (IaC) frameworks allow developers and administrators to define infrastructure specifications in configuration files. The administrators can then spin up required instances using commands that execute script tasks to expose infrastructure using the configuration specifications. IaC also makes it easy to granulate infrastructure into modular groups that you can reuse in multiple deployments.

Development

Code development typically involves some manual steps that do not require creativity or strategy. You can automate these often-repetitive tasks by identifying common themes in existing code and then developing playbooks to orchestrate the tasks. 

Development automation tools interpret code at the functional level, abstracting away infrastructure details so developers can more quickly achieve desired business/service outcomes.

CI/CD

Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) powers DevOps and agility by ensuring frequent, byte-sized updates to code and infrastructure. Automation in CI/CD pipelines lets you optimize development, deployment, and testing. Automating each segment of the pipeline helps eliminate failures since it is easier to isolate faults and remediate them before they are integrated into production.

Monitoring

Automated monitoring helps DevOps teams determine whether their application is available and performing per the standards set within a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Engineers often employ a microservices approach, with many decentralized services each responsible for performing different functions of the application.

Automation enables you to effectively monitor at both the application and microservice levels to help isolate sources of bottlenecks. It also includes the adoption of rich alerting and notification tools for quicker issue remediation and faster releases.

Security Testing

This involves setting up repeatable security checks to uncover any vulnerabilities that could lead to a successful attack. These security checks are deployed throughout the software development and delivery process using lightweight agents that should not negatively affect delivery times and application responsiveness. 

Static and dynamic application security testing (SAST & DAST) tools allow DevOps teams to uncover security weaknesses in source code. Runtime application self-protection (RASP) tools, meanwhile, perform automated tests for applications running within their deployment environment, enabling the remediation of runtime vulnerabilities. 

Log Management

Log management is an important part of the DevOps lifecycle since it helps developers and QA teams trace application events and their triggers/sources. DevOps deployments are typically loosely coupled, with different services and applications generating log data in different formats. 

Automating log management makes it easy to standardize log data, aggregate logs, tag sources and sinks, and filter log information for effective troubleshooting. Log management tools also enable user activity tracking and behavior profiling, so that teams can automatically identify and remediate malicious actors before they endanger the pipeline.

Moving Beyond Day-1 DevOps

Most of the topics described in this blog post deal with Day-1 operations, which involve efforts to support the building, testing, and development of applications. But DevOps doesn’t end when you ship an application to production. Instead cloud operations teams are responsible for monitoring and maintaining application performance and reliability. 

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.


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