In this digital world, customers set high expectations for service performance, security, and reliability. Companies must find ways to innovate and respond efficiently to new market developments. This includes addressing the evolving needs of customers especially in terms of improving product features and resolving issues to speed up time to market. To achieve this, businesses are transitioning to modern Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) approaches such as DevOps which represents a dynamic change in IT culture.
What Is DevOps And How It Works?
DevOps refers to practices that streamline enterprise workflows to push quality software features and enable quick IT service delivery. Often, we come across questions about the importance of DevOps in a business context. Prompt response to customer demands often comes with taking care of process bottlenecks and replacing slow, manual tasks with automation. These measures allow companies to align every stage of the SDLC workflow with their business objectives. They become more capable of delivering services and applications at greater velocity than those who rely on conventional software development and infrastructure management techniques.
Automation In DevOps
With automation, human teams need not manually intervene and facilitate DevOps practices. Although performing processes such as CI, CD, and log analytics manually is possible, companies must invest in large teams and significant time to do so. DevOps automation simplifies these processes by using sophisticated software tools and intelligent configuration. Common examples include:
- Automated testing platforms that assess behavioral metrics of a new application version to determine whether it fulfills predefined quality standards.
- Infrastructure as code (IaC) technology that utilizes configuration files to manage IT systems.
Case In Point
Take the example of a change management process for a project. Your client sends an email with some feedback to incorporate into an application that your developers begin working on. Once completed, the testing team receives the new version after which it shares feedback with development. This goes on until you deploy the application, and there is always a chance that something will backfire in a simple change request. It could be anything from manual interventions and discrepancies in processes to communication delays.
You can tackle these discrepancies by automating your DevOps processes. Doing so brings together tools and technologies that different teams utilize in the software delivery cycle. Process standardization also makes it easier to understand what is happening in an environment, ensure quality, and apply changes where necessary.
The Role Of Automation
Automation is an integral aspect when it comes to ensuring quick feedback throughout the DevOps pipeline. The sooner your teams receive feedback, the quicker you can come up with an action plan to tackle problems. A DevOps process leverages automation to execute tasks like:
1. Code Development
Automation in applications such as source control enables your development team to stay informed on the DevOps SDLC pipeline. For example, specifying changes to a build and initiating process activities to bring about those modifications goes beyond saving time. It enables software development teams to set up toolchains and increase automation to provide DevOps code quality at scale which simplifies the development of large and complex software projects.
So, what happens when a company focuses on code quality at both the code and product layer? It builds resilience into its products and generates a codebase that requires less rework as well as maintenance.
2. Continuous Testing
This is the part of the software development lifecycle that involves executing automated tests. The intent is to review the quality of software at each step of the delivery process by testing as early and often as possible. You receive fast feedback on the business risks associated with a software release candidate. Automation is critical to support when you leverage test automation to address the increasing complexity of modern application development and delivery.
Developers and QA should proactively manage continuous testing in DevOps frameworks during the SDLC pipeline. This includes enabling automated communications teams and IT infrastructure, tracking problems, optimizing the test suite to eliminate redundancy, and continuously integrating approved builds.
3. Attaining Visibility
Real-time DevOps visibility allows businesses to make informed decisions and enhance the quality of software releases. Sophisticated process automation and digital workplace technologies help companies integrate visibility into their DevOps processes.
Assume a situation in which developers create code for an application. Another team then tests the code after which the release manager supervises the integration and deployment of the application. Let’s say that the Ops team detects an issue with the application during the development phase. They ask the developers to identify and resolve the problem by rewriting a section of the code, and this is where DevOps visibility is crucial.
With DevOps visibility, the Ops team need not present issues to the developers. Instead, a process automation or digital workplace tool can directly notify the development team. This offers an in-depth understanding of the frameworks or metrics they must focus on to address the problem.
Let’s consider another example. If a team member discovers a code issue weeks after it was forwarded, developers must analyze the root cause without wasting the progress. A solid feedback loop between Devs, Ops, and QA deals with silos and bottlenecks between all teams. Ops, in particular, can make an important contribution by staying on top of code changes, existing problems, and the resulting impact on project objectives. All this enables teams to focus on the crucial aspects of their roles and offer actionable insights to release managers.
4. Facilitating CI/CD
The Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) method is a powerful medium for pushing code changes reliably and efficiently. This provides automated testing parameters that help QA engineers define and implement tests. In turn, developers can determine whether a software build is good to go or not. The CI/CD pipeline also ensures that target environments receive appropriate data, software builds, and code changes. DevOps can then execute regular code changes, stage builds for testing, and deliver frequent software changes. By incorporating automation into application development, the CI/CD pipeline delivers robust and reliable applications to customers.
5. Monitoring and Incident Management
This is a powerful combination in DevOps that comes with high-level incident reporting to understand performance or other potential issues. It starts with monitoring systems collecting and logging performance data on targets ranging from applications to servers and networks. Specialists generally conduct monitoring under runtime conditions, but it is also possible to leverage synthetic monitoring tools to simulate loads as well as assess web services resilience.
Incident management systems utilize monitoring system outputs and other appropriate inputs to proactively identify and resolve performance issues that hinder routine operations. Notably, the monitoring system output can take the form of log data, an event-triggered alert, or both.
Tightly integrating monitoring and incident management systems greatly improves security postures and mitigates vulnerabilities. It also enhances the end-user experience by reducing MTTR via automated transitions from data collection, valuable insights, and targeted responses.
Benefits of DevOps Automation
Automation quickens the pace of processes such as code integration and application deployment, allowing businesses to improve productivity. For example, deploying a new release manually at 3am may be difficult or nearly impossible if you depend on a human to implement the process. You cannot waste any time by using automation resources as you need not wait for a human to be prepared before a process can begin.
Executing automated processes quickly becomes a reality. Consider an employee who manually deploys a new release. First, they must evaluate the environment, type out configurations, manually ensure the successful deployment of the new version, etc. On the other hand, a modern automation tool changes everything by conducting these operations almost instantly.
DevOps automation paves the way to a more responsive and reliable development environment that, in addition to closely matching business requirements, removes human error from the project lifecycle. This not only minimizes the execution time of new services from months to minutes. It saves costs on upgrades and maintenance, and eliminates unnecessary CapEx.
The list does not end here. Businesses get to enhance system component quality, reliability, and reusability, not to mention their investment in cloud infrastructure, data management, and analytics is worth it.
Collaboration & Communication
End-to-end communication between departments is essential for remaining on the same page throughout the development process. Work is done effectively and efficiently, and collaboration keeps team members in close contact. This improves employee accountability as everyone focuses on the same goals which creates a shared sense of responsibility to work together and succeed.
Highly automated processes are consistent and predictable. A software automation tool will always perform the same action unless an engineer reconfigures it to do otherwise. This cannot apply to human resources.
The possibilities associated with DevOps and automation are practically endless. Today, we have Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that saves time and human efforts to a large extent. It is expected to remain a fast-growing enterprise tech, and will empower DevOps/IT by offering high-performance solutions that eliminate tedious tasks. In contrast, DevOps can help deploy RPA, and ensure that RPA deployments are tightly integrated with strategic business goals.
At Clouve, we specialize in coming up with innovative solutions to challenging and time-consuming DevOps problems. Contact us to find out how!