Increase Your DevOps Productivity Using Infrastructure as Low Code
DevOps productivity is a real problem, but low code might be the next big step in boosting your productivity, increasing your focus, and delivering value.
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As an individual developer or as a part of a wider software development or IT team, you will find that time is rarely on your side, with many competing priorities throughout the working week. This naturally focuses you to look for ways to increase your productivity through the use of technology and tools to help you achieve more in less time. Throughout this blog post, we’re going to look at DevOps productivity and compare traditional tools with infrastructure as low code tools.
Automate Software Development Tasks With DevOps Tooling
Everyone has heard of DevOps, yet many people struggle to understand exactly what DevOps is. Fundamentally DevOps is a perfect mixture of the philosophy of DevOps along with daily practices and supporting technology tools to enable you to deliver value through technology rapidly to your customers.
Often what people focus on around DevOps is the tooling element, as this often leads people down the continuous integration and continuous delivery route, aka CI/CD. One of the most popular open-source CI/CD tools is Jenkins, which is an all-in-one automation server that brings together the various parts of the software development life cycle.
There are endless tools available on the market that can fit into your DevOps processes and cover virtually any technology stock you can think of these days. As Jenkins is one of the most popular, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons in comparison with other infrastructures as low code tools.
With Jenkins being open source, this gives you full control over the platform and what you do with it. Unfortunately, this also puts all the responsibility onto yourself to make sure it’s doing what it should be doing. Starting at the infrastructure level, this is something you have to host yourself, which naturally comes with an associated cost for the underlying resource.
On top of that, you need to have the skills, knowledge, and experience to set Jenkins up in the first place, which is no mean feat. This is all time out of a developer’s busy day to get these foundations set up rather than focusing on the value-added activities for your customers.
Those of you who have used Jenkins before will know and those of you who haven’t yet and will soon learn that once you’ve got the basic Jenkins environment set up, it’s actually not that intuitive to use. You enter the Jenkins dashboard to click around and often fumble your way through before ultimately going back to Google to find a simple guide for how to use Jenkins that you can follow to get a basic setup working for your specific technology stack and the processes you follow. This brings us to our next topic.
Complex Development Workflows Require Simple Tools
No matter how simple or complex your automated development workflows are in relation to infrastructure as low code solutions, one thing is key: you need the tools in your toolbox to work for you rather than against. Jenkins is a prime example; it’s a great tool, although you do have to battle with it at times to get it to do exactly what you need. This is all valuable time wasted when you could be spending your valuable time working with tools that support you and make your life easier.
Jenkins can be seen more as a platform rather than an out-of-the-box tool. Jenkins provides the framework for you to customize everything you require, assuming that you know exactly how to plug everything together. You may want to consider out-of-the-box solutions such as infrastructure as low code solutions instead.
While Jenkins comes with over 1,800+ plugins available in the marketplace, you need to know exactly how to manage and configure each and every one that is relevant to your needs. Infrastructure as low code tools available on the market are designed specifically to make your life easy as a developer without having to learn about 1,800+ different and fragmented pieces of information and documentation that come with a platform like Jenkins.
Being able to utilize the right software tools within your toolset is essential to increasing your productivity and delivering value to your customers, either internal or external, as fast as possible. Choose your tools wisely to ensure you can deliver value as quickly as possible throughout the software development life cycle to a high standard.
When It Is Time to Start Looking at DevOps Tooling
You are likely reading this blog post as either a newbie software engineer/DevOps engineer or an experienced one looking to increase the productivity of your own work or that of your team(s) — either way it’s important to understand when it's time to start evaluating the various DevOps and infrastructure as low code solutions on the market.
Technology and tools are not the silver bullet. DevOps performance improvements are a fine blend between people, process, and technology — and this varies enormously between every organization, so you need to understand the context you are working within.
As an organization/team/individual, you want to start to look at DevOps tooling when you are at the point in time when you have absolutely nailed your agile software development life cycle process using a manual approach. If you don’t fully understand your processes end to end, tools aren’t going to help you solve that problem — they are merely going to help you to get to the conclusion that your processes aren’t working faster.
That being said, it’s important to look forward. As a forward-thinking person, it’s essential to be testing the various infrastructure as low code solutions available on the market to understand the benefits they bring to increase the productivity of your DevOps processes and deliver value to your customers as quickly as possible. The tooling you choose has a significant impact on the increase/decrease in your performance as an organization.
Simplify the Use of DevOps Tooling
When you start to get into the realms of infrastructure as low code and DevOps tooling, you’ll soon start to see the plethora of options available to you from open-source self-hosted solutions through to commercial Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. There is no right or wrong direction of travel here as this is significantly impacted by your organization and staff/skills base. Either way, what is important is the need to simplify the tooling to enable you to deliver value faster.
When you compare tools such as Jenkins, which is a self-hosted platform versus other solutions, you’ll soon start to see the importance of simplification. Jenkins puts the entire workload on yourself, so you have to set up the underlying infrastructure, the base management, and configuration along with selecting the range of third-party plugins available for configuration.
The aim of modern tooling is that tools like this enable you to get up and running as a SaaS solution with minimal effort required so you can work on value-added activities. SaaS tools often come with a more gradual learning curve and can help you speed up your development activities by focusing on the areas that add value to your business and customers.
Give Low Code a Try
When evaluating the various infrastructure as low code tools available on the market to identify which tools can help you to increase the productivity of your DevOps activities, you want to be looking for tools that are easy to use. Some tools will come with features such as drag and drop editors to allow you to build pipelines within minutes, other tools will require you to install and configure a variety of plugins to get a basic pipeline working.
SaaS DevOps tools generally come out of the box with handy features to make your life easy — for example, the ability to hook up with Docker build and deploy commands. Other handy features can include the ability to trigger automatic pipeline activities off the back of core metrics reaching specified limits to ensure your systems can scale outwards as and when you require without issue.
Capacity alerts are a prime example; these allow you to trigger automation activities such as scaling up or down underlying infrastructure resources when core metrics such as CPU and RAM reach certain utilization levels. Working towards an extremely high availability system is the goal for many organizations and IT teams.
SaaS tools allow you to easily build these pipelines without having to utilize complex workflows across different tools with AWS tools such as CloudWatch metrics triggering SNS (Simple Notification Service) messages which trigger AWS Lambda functions to kick off a response to an activity. SaaS infrastructure as low code tools are designed to make this as simple as possible for you.
As a final thought, give the various tools on the market a try to get a feel for what tools are going to suit your organization and the ways of working best. Simplicity is key and you will soon see how easy or difficult the various tools are.
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