Automate to Empower: How Toolchain Automation Can Empower and Elevate Your Teams
Every dev knows the drill — you’re sitting down to get cracking on your new coding assignment and first things first, it’s time to build your toolchain.
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Every dev knows the drill — you’re sitting down to get cracking on your new coding assignment and first things first, it’s time to build your toolchain. And this is where the headaches begin — selecting the tools and plugins, creating the integrations, piecing it all together. Not to mention the licensing and versioning headaches. After some fidgeting, manual setups, and bridgework, the toolchain is ready... for now. Meanwhile, a nearby dev on another team is building a similar toolchain with different tools and integrations, and only later will the lack of standardization and resulting roadblocks become apparent. The problems will be daunting and difficult to overcome, causing delays in code delivery, and delaying the product to market.
This story is so common in DevOps that this likely has happened in your organization and every dev can relate a similar story. The results extend far beyond missed milestones and delayed or failed launches. Burnout, leading to churn, plague organizations that fail to address the problems of poor toolchain management. Research shows that these organizations often perform poorly compared to their competitors that work to resolve these issues at the team and organization levels. Far and away, the best solution to toolchain management issues is automation. Lack of automation in the toolchain had a wide variety of ill effects impacting individual contributors, teams, the resulting product, and the organization at large.
Like a House Built on Sand: The Follies of Manual Toolchain Management
The multitude of tools available alone is daunting, before even considering the various versions, options, and differing integrations. Lack of standardization and automation, can create extremely high learning curves during onboarding and/or hand-off.
Often, teams within the same organization are investing in similar, overlapping tools without any communication, wasting both time and financial resources. These toolchains are often poorly documented, leading to tribal knowledge, which continues to steepen the learning curves and exacerbating team-to-team collaboration.
As the endless pain of building and integrating the toolchains burn out developers, churn is created, which further compounds these issues. When deployments inevitably fail, debugging can be difficult or impossible. And the more manual/custom processes, tools, and integrations in use, the harder it all is to maintain and scale.
Security issues become rampant as tool versions age and integrations get stuck depending on legacy code. Without automation, these toolchains age poorly, as version control is nearly impossible. All of this creates a DevOps environment that is as stable as a house built on sand. A weak foundation in quickly changing environments will bring your teams and organization down.
All of these challenges can be mitigated through proper toolchain management and automation. Smoothing out workflows, easing hand-off, and improving continuity throughout the organization are some of the big wins provided by automation, but most importantly, automation can help your products speed to market. With today’s competitive landscape moving at hyper speed, this positive outcome cannot be understated.
Getting Out of the Sand and onto Solid Ground: Elevate With Automation
By creating self-service provisioning for tools, your DevOps teams can quickly and easily build up toolchains with native integrations and properly maintained custom tools, while still having the choice to use the best tools for the task at hand. By removing the manual steps and replacing them with standardized and repeatable processes, workflows make sense and are easy to debug when problems arise.
Developers can return to putting their energies into writing code and producing quality products at pace, instead of burning up time building and maintaining unwieldy and complex toolchains. Lifecycle management is simplified, with consistent versioning and easily deployed updates. Developers can focus on building their coding skills and improving their career trajectories, instead of burning out from constant unending grunt work of scripting tools together. When individuals and teams feel empowered in their work, the results show in the work they produce and ultimately are reflected in the success of the product and the organization. This empowerment comes from having buy-in and control of their tools, without all the wasted time and effort lost to manual tool management. Teams can better communicate and collaborate. Tribal knowledge is eliminated in favor of well-documented and standardized processes and native integrations. Deployments run smoothly. Products are delivered on schedule. Individual contributors feel more invested in their work and the organization.
So how does an organization achieve this level of standardization and automation? Some can find what they need through their cloud platform’s built-in DevOps tools, however, this is very limited. For small orgs using a single cloud provider, this may be a good fit. Most organizations are working across multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures, and need a more flexible and capable platform to build their DevOps toolchains on. Native connectors to all major cloud providers as well as full support for linking these to on-premise environments are key. With the ability to automate the integration of all of your DevOps tools, pipelines can be built in minutes, instead of hours or days. Developers can have their choice of tools while maintaining plug-and-play ease of use and avoiding redundancies.
If your organization truly wants to rise as an elite player in the market, it requires building a foundation internally for coordinated and collaborative work amongst your teams, that is both flexible and standardized. By empowering your individual contributors and thus your teams, your whole business can elevate to new heights. You must choose your platforms and tools wisely, with an eye towards manageability and automation, and thus remove the pain points and headaches that create the poor performance that holds both your products and your business back.
Published at DZone with permission of Vishnu Vasudevan. See the original article here.
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