Streamlining DevOps With IT Automation
Choosing the right processes to automate and incorporating automation right from the beginning eases and speeds up DevOps adoption in IT.
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The transition to a DevOps mentality can cause a tug of war between development and operations teams as they look to find a balance between conflicting priorities: speed and accuracy. Development teams are driven by speed because they aim to deploy changes as quickly and frequently as possible in order to maximize innovation. On the other hand, operations teams are focused on maintaining accuracy, pausing the entire rollout if one element is not up to par. Because the teams have opposing priorities and objectives, they often struggle to work together cohesively. Fortunately, with IT automation, organizations can facilitate a DevOps environment in which the development and operations teams can work together in an efficient and effective manner.
According to AWS, DevOps is “the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.” IT automation also helps organizations achieve this necessary level of agility by offering easy modifications so that companies can adjust their processes as needed to accommodate inevitable changes in technology, government regulations, and customer expectations.
The switch to a DevOps mentality isn’t going to happen overnight; in fact, according to Gartner, only 5 percent of their clients were using DevOps to support traditional IT initiatives in 2016. However, the movement is certainly growing – Gartner estimates that by 2020 that number will spike to 20 percent. To help make this transition smoother, IT departments are turning to IT automation to speed up the process and create a better working relationship between those on different sides of the aisle.
Here are a few things to consider when looking to implement IT automation in order to push towards a cooperative, successful DevOps culture:
Taking an Architectural Approach to Automation
Traditionally, organizations have taken an elemental or piecemeal approach to automation – deploying point solutions to solve point problems. But this reactive approach is inefficient and creates unnecessary friction between teams. Instead, by incorporating automation at the onset – known as taking an architectural approach to automation – businesses can integrate processes and teams from the very beginning. As a result, processes that otherwise would have been done manually are automated from the start, and organizations can maintain a clear channel of communication between the development and operations teams. This leads to better efficiency in operations and cooperation among teams.
Another benefit of looking at automation from the time of the project’s inception is that it helps companies succeed in “shifting left,” a leading DevOps objective for 2017. By shifting left, companies can identify and fix issues early in the process instead of at the end. Organizations that are able to shift left can handle issues before they affect other processes in the pipeline, thus reducing the negative impact and cost, and ultimately leading to less unplanned work and fewer iterations before achieving a successful rollout.
Automate the Right Processes
In a recent report, Gartner discussed the key role IT automation plays in the transition to DevOps. They go on to explain, “digital business demands a high degree of automation for improved speed and effectiveness of software delivery.” IT automation helps companies coordinate and consolidate IT operations within a consistent and common interface so disparate systems and software become self-acting or self-regulating.
Routine processes, such as maintenance, testing, and cleanup tasks, are the first that should be automated. Automating these processes relieves IT from focusing on time-intensive actions, freeing IT staffers to spend more time on mission-critical infrastructure projects and other higher-level tasks. Beyond routine processes, it’s also beneficial to automate many of the processes required to move from code to production. For example, IT automation can trigger a build, deploy the build to the test environment, run the test suite and, given the testing meets the criteria that are predetermined to be acceptable, promote the build to production.
In case there are hiccups in any of these processes, there are automated monitoring and alerting capabilities in place to proactively notify the appropriate parties so they can step in and handle the necessary remediation. IT automation can also provide change management tools along with changeset capabilities, allowing for efficient, highly-targeted modifications. As a result, companies can reduce the amount of human intervention and minimize the impact of errors – something that everyone can appreciate.
Creating a successful DevOps mentality within an organization is necessary to meet customer and management expectations for quick and accurate rollouts. While IT automation is not a magic bullet, it is certainly a critical component for executing processes, managing teams and ensuring adaptability. In the end, adopting a new way of thinking will have noticeable and lasting ROI. Without it, companies will find themselves unable to keep up as there will be unnecessary roadblocks that will make the development and testing processes take significantly longer.
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