How Automation Enhances Efficiency and Delivery Speed In a DevOps Environment
Where does automation fit into the SDLC in a DevOps environment?
When organizations make the decision to move to a DevOps environment, they are typically looking to solve challenges in their software development and release pipelines. A recent State of Agile report shows that 71% of respondents are adopting Agile in order to accelerate their software delivery processes. Other key reasons cited for moving to Agile include enhancing their ability to manage changing priorities, enhancing software quality, and increasing productivity.
Many of the common challenges that are presented in the SDLC process can be addressed with DevOps and Agile methodologies combined. Automation is significant to the adoption of Agile and DevOps and can be applied throughout the entire software development and delivery process, from code generation to deployment. When inefficiencies, inconsistencies, bottlenecks, and error-prone manual processes are eliminated with automation, software development becomes faster and can then be scaled at greater velocity.
Automation can be implemented throughout the entire DevOps lifecycle using a variety of DevOps automation tools. Typical automated tasks in the DevOps pipeline include build automation, continuous integration, test automation, production deployment, release, and monitoring.
Ways that automation can help increase speed and efficiency
When automation is introduced into various stages of the software delivery and DevOps pipeline, the benefits are compounded and amplified, while software can be delivered faster and more frequently. For organizations that are constantly delivering and releasing software, automation is a must to meet their productivity objectives.
Some of the most distinct benefits of automation include the following:
- Creating more consistency end-to-end in the software delivery pipeline.
- Reducing human error by eliminating manual processes.
- Providing for streamlining of frequent and repeated processes.
- Allowing for scaling of software delivery.
- Creating opportunities for improved communications between siloed teams and departments.
- Helping the software delivery process to shift left and reduce failures.
Building automation into the entire SDLC, especially in key areas such as workflows, builds, testing, releases, deployments, and monitoring, will help accelerate delivery while maintaining quality and security.
Deciding where to add automation
When organizations begin their journey to Agile and DevOps, deciding where to add automation can be overwhelming. Before implementing changes, organizations often begin automation by reviewing the status quo. Initial steps include evaluating and then prioritizing processes, subprocesses, and tasks to determine whether they meet the criteria for automation.
Some teams find early successes by starting with small-scale changes when deciding what to automate. Even when introducing new DevOps tools to an environment, small projects are a good way to begin.
When reviewing existing processes, teams must determine whether a process or subprocess can be fully automated from start to finish, or if some manual processes need to be maintained in some sections of the pipeline. While the philosophy of “automate everything” is a goal of DevOps, it’s also unwise to automate processes only for the sake of automation itself. It’s critical to evaluate thoroughly before applying specific automation. For example, teams may identify cases where some manual intervention, such as testing, may be necessary or where specialized skills are required. In some instances, over-automating can be problematic and lead to unforeseen failures, or even drive up costs unnecessarily.
Typically, processes that are good candidates for automation include the following:
- Repetitive manual processes
- Processes that are prone to human error
- Processes that are time-consuming
- Processes that take up many resources
- Processes that are frequently repeated and that can be scaled
Part of the automation process includes selecting the right DevOps automation tools for different areas of the pipeline. Automation can produce dramatic improvements in a number of key areas, including continuous integration, continuous delivery, continuous monitoring, and continuous deployment. Some best-of-breed DevOps automation tools include Jenkins, Git, Chef, and Puppet.
Advanced automation tools to accelerate software delivery
Automation is essential to driving fast and more efficient software delivery. As stated in a recent article about automation and innovation in DevOps.com, “It’s also important to understand that automation drives quality as much as it drives agility. It enables you to deliver new products and services faster and more frequently while fostering top-notch user experiences.”
When scaling DevOps in complex environments, automation is critical to faster software delivery. By employing advanced automation tools, DevOps teams can accelerate and amplify the delivery process, standardize more complex deployments, create more consistency, improve release and deployment quality, and deliver more value to customers.
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