As software development becomes more demanding and competitive, teams strive to deliver high-quality applications as quickly and efficiently as possible. DevOps automation makes this goal achievable by fostering collaboration between development and operations teams, minimizing manual tasks, and streamlining processes.
In this guide, we will dig deeper into what DevOps automation is. We’ll also discuss its benefits, best practices, software that can help you implement it, and more.
What is DevOps?
As its name suggests, DevOps combines development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops) stages of the software development lifecycle in a single workflow. With DevOps, teams can take advantage of improved collaboration, shared responsibilities, feedback loops, task and process automation, and more to accelerate development and release higher-quality software faster.
What is DevOps Automation?
DevOps automation refers to the practice of automating manual and repetitive tasks and processes throughout the software development lifecycle using various methodologies and tools.
What makes automation so important for DevOps? Because it automates manual and repetitive tasks, allowing DevOps teams to focus more on creativity and strategy and collaborate more. Automation promotes process consistency that allows teams to spot and resolve issues quickly, resulting in better code quality and more reliable software releases. DevOps automation also facilitates continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD), resulting in smoother, more frequent deployments and reduced time to market, helping teams gain an edge over competitors.
Benefits of DevOps Automation
DevOps automation offers several benefits, including:
- Strengthened collaboration: DevOps automation promotes improved collaboration and communication between development and operations teams, as well as shared responsibility for the entire SDLC.
- Increased efficiency and productivity: By freeing team members from manual tasks, DevOps automation allows them to focus on more critical aspects of their work to become more efficient and productive.
- Quick feedback: By automating testing and monitoring, teams can get rapid feedback on code changes to quickly spot and fix issues.
- Faster delivery: DevOps automation streamlines the SDLC, enabling continuous integration, delivery, and deployment. This results in faster and more frequent releases with new features and bug fixes.
- Fewer errors: Manual and repetitive tasks can lead to errors. Automating these tasks minimizes the risk of human error.
- Improved reliability and quality: Teams can spot and fix issues early in the development cycle by automating their testing and deployment processes. This can lead to fewer bugs, better code quality, and increased reliability with releases.
- Consistency: Infrastructure as code (IaC) and automated deployment processes promote consistency across environments.
- Better security: Teams can improve security by integrating automated security scans and compliance checks into their CI/CD pipeline that catch vulnerabilities early.
- Scalability: DevOps automation makes it easy to scale infrastructure and applications without manual effort.
- Less risk: Teams can take advantage of smaller releases more frequently, reducing the impact of each deployment and making it easier to roll back if something goes wrong.
- Reduced costs: Automation can reduce operational costs, reduce downtime, improve resource utilization, and more to help teams save money in the long run.
Combine all the benefits listed above, and DevOps automation also delivers a competitive advantage to teams that adopt it.
Automated processes in DevOps
Several processes can be automated in DevOps to streamline the SDLC. You can automate continuous integration (code compilation, build process, unit testing, packaging, artifact creation, etc.) and continuous delivery (deployment in staging and production environments, integration and functional testing in multiple environments, smoke testing, etc.)
You can automate infrastructure as code (provisioning, resource scaling, network configuration, etc.), release management (version management, release note generation, change logs, etc.), monitoring and alerting (application status, critical issue notifications, etc.), testing (API testing, application functional testing, etc.), and security and compliance (vulnerability scanning, compliance checks, etc.).
DevOps Automation Best Practices
Following the DevOps automation best practices below can help keep your DevOps processes running smoothly:
- Start small: Instead of trying to automate everything at once, automate a few of your most repetitive and error-prone tasks.
- Collaborate: You need to encourage collaboration and communication between your development and operations teams. Emphasize comments and sharing to optimize automation processes.
- Document everything: Your guidelines, best practices, and automation processes should all be documented to keep everyone on the team on the same page.
- Use version control systems: Using version control systems like Git for your code and configuration files will ensure that multiple team members can collaborate on them, and any changes will be tracked and reversible.
- Treat infrastructure as code: IaC facilitates the automation of resource provisioning and configuration. Tools like Ansible and Terraform can help.
- Implement CI/CD pipelines: Building, testing, and deploying code changes should be automated through continuous integration and continuous delivery.
- Collect feedback and metrics: You can spot areas for improvement by constantly gathering feedback and metrics from your automated processes.
- Implement failback: Automated rollback mechanisms can help minimize issues when deployment or configuration failures occur and ensure that services are restored to a stable state.
- Encourage experimentation: Some automated processes are bound to fail. Use these failures to learn, improve and iterate.
DevOps automation tools can eliminate time-consuming manual tasks, promote collaboration, increase efficiency, and help development teams produce high-quality software faster.
Although there are several DevOps automation tools on the market, these are some of the best to get you started on your search.
Jenkins is an open-source automation server that’s customizable, flexible via a massive plugin ecosystem, and has a pretty loyal following. The development tool promotes CI/CD by automating the build, test, and deployment stages of software development.
You can find out more by reading our Jenkins review.
Red Hat Ansible is a DevOps tool used to automate application deployment, configuration management, and more. It offers cross-platform support, agentless architecture and orchestration and is highly customizable and flexible due to its open source nature.
Discover our Review of Red Hat Ansible for more information.
GitLab CI/CD helps developers automate build, test, and deploy for increased productivity, quality, and security. The user-friendly DevOps automation tool works with all major frameworks and languages, offers top-notch security through its test reports, security and dependency analysis, and more, and has a code quality feature to keep code readable, clean, and maintenance-free.
Read our GitLab CI/CD Tool Review for more information.
Atlassian Bamboo is a CI/CD tool with versioning features. It offers scalability and reliability and allows developers to automate their build, test, and release processes. The DevOps automation tool is easy to configure and customize, supports multiple platforms, programming languages, and authoring tools, and integrates seamlessly with other Atlassian tools like Bitbucket and Jira project management.
You can find out more by reading our Bamboo CI/CD Software Review.
Progress Chef is a configuration management tool with infrastructure automation features. Chef has won a lot of acclaim among the DevOps community for its focus on infrastructure as code, and it’s built to handle even the most complex tasks.
OUR Chef Configuration Management Tool Review contains more information about Chef’s features and pricing.
Final Thoughts on DevOps Automation
Now that you know what DevOps automation is and its many benefits, it’s time to consider applying it to the routine of your software development team. Follow the best practices in this guide and use some of the tools listed, and you should be able to start enjoying the increased efficiency, productivity, and speed, as well as the improved quality, reliability, and collaboration that only DevOps automation can bring soon.