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What is DevOps Automation? A Beginner’s Guide

What is DevOps Automation

DevOps helps businesses deliver software rapidly and reliably. Automation is central to the DevOps philosophy — a fundamental principle that drives efficiency, speed, and reliability across the software development lifecycle.

Automation skills are highly sought after among DevOps practicing companies across industries and, therefore, vital for professionals looking to carve a career in DevOps.

In this article, we’ll explore the concept of DevOps automation in detail, discussing its benefits, best practices, and how organizations can effectively implement automation to enhance their software delivery pipelines.

For those looking to kickstart or advance their DevOps career, we’ll discuss an industry-recognized DevOps bootcamp to help you get started.

Why is DevOps Automation Needed?

DevOps automation refers to using technology to automate the processes involved in building, testing, and deploying software. By automating repetitive tasks and workflows, teams can accelerate software delivery, reduce errors, and improve collaboration between development and operations teams.

DevOps automation involves using technology to automate the routine tasks involved in building, testing, and deploying software so developers can concentrate on more critical tasks. This practice targets repetitive functions, follows fixed steps, and does not require constant human assistance or attention. It helps the DevOps teams work on other operations in tandem.

DevOps automation is also needed to set up automatic feedback loops between development and operation teams so that both teams are instantly aware of the issues and resolutions without a communication gap.

Besides these broader reasons, DevOps automation has many advantages, which we’ll explore in the next section.

Also Read: DevOps Metrics: Measuring DevOps Success

Key Benefits of Automation in DevOps

What are the business benefits of implementing automation in DevOps? Here are the top ones.

  • Automated processes replace manual, repetitive tasks, enabling simultaneous development and operations
  • The new products and features can be delivered to the market quickly
  • Manual errors are prevented, and the products are of high quality and accuracy
  • The productivity of the DevOps teams has improved, as they can now focus on more critical tasks and work more efficiently
  • You can scale the process rapidly as your DevOps team grows
  • Automation streamlines communication channels and improves the collaborative experience
  • With fewer human hours spent on mundane tasks, automation saves time, resources, and money
  • Eliminating manual errors and chances of tampering leads to increased process security
  • Monitoring is streamlined as the software updates and resolved issues can be regularly tracked on the dashboard
  • Resources can be managed more efficiently by automating provisioning and avoiding overloading or underusing the computing capacities
  • The workflows become shorter as some tasks get automated and can be performed in sync with other functions
  • Customer satisfaction is improved due to the delivery of high-quality products and consistent updates
  • Business verticals can focus on innovation and development as some parts of project management are automated, saving time spent on mundane tasks such as tracking timelines and completions

Signs of Effective DevOps Automation

DevOps automation results in certain key outputs that mark its successful implementation. Here are some of those tell-tale signs.

  • Improved deployment speed leads to faster continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to production after receiving approval.
  • The low mean time to recovery implies that a sudden service or production failure will not disrupt the DevOps operations for too long.
  • Greater deployment frequency results in faster and more efficient new version releases.
  • A low defect escape rate means that a low proportion of bugs and flaws go undetected during testing.
  • A low change failure rate as a regular automated feedback loop results in incremental DevOps code changes rather than a drastic overhaul.
  • Enhanced application availability means the time required for software to become completely available and functional for customers is low, and the end users receive the software quickly.

Also Read: A Comprehensive List of Top DevOps Tools for 2024

DevOps Automation Tools

DevOps is a multi-stage and multi-functional process. As a result, it involves several automation tools at various stages. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones.

  • Ansible helps automate deployments across clouds, edge environments, and networks. It helps with configuration and deployment, provisioning, and network management. It also helps with automatic alerts for security breaches and responses to known and simple threats.
  • Terraform automates infrastructure provisioning and management, provides automated workflows for CI/CD, and standardizes security measures and responses.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud service that can be accessed and scaled as needed. It has excellent automation capabilities for managing infrastructure, releasing software, and deploying codes. It can also automate the performance monitoring of infrastructure and applications.
  • Dynatrace helps apply automation across the entire software development process and enhances the quality and frequency of releases. It helps automate manual CI/CD tasks and can be used to set up automatic detection and ticket creation for issues.
  • Jenkins helps automate continuous integration and DevOps test automation. It is used to automate software testing and identify issues immediately after deployment, which helps integrate further code modifications quickly.
  • Chef, which automates routine steps of complicated tasks. It is used for configuration management by allowing modifications done in one place to be reflected simultaneously in other connected servers.
  • Kubernetes is an open-source tool for containerization management that automates the scaling and deployment of containerized applications.
  • Puppet automates the configuration management process. You can specify the ideal condition for the infrastructure, and Puppet will maintain the system within the limits, helping automate the continuous deployment stage. Automation enables efficient containerization and Docker interactions within an application, reducing the time dedicated to creating each container separately.

As an aspiring DevOps professional, you must have a working knowledge of these tools – which is something a good DevOps program or a recognized course can equip you with.

Companies That Have Automated their DevOps Processes

Multiple global companies have taken advantage of the benefits offered by DevOps automation. Here are some of the success stories to inspire you.

Elo Serviços S.A.

Elo Serviços S.A., a Brazilian credit card company, employed automation in its DevOps to increase the efficiency of its infrastructure. It could plan, develop, and deploy a proof of concept in only two weeks, giving it a massive edge over its competitors. It also automated the deployment, management, and updation of applications and customer service, resulting in a 97% improvement in delivery times.

Netflix

Netflix, the global entertainment service provider, required a foolproof method to constantly test its infrastructure and stay ahead of any potential flaws and disruptions. Hence, it encouraged volunteer developers to contribute to the Simian Army suite of automation tools. This tool suite is used to stress test the infrastructure for flaws that Netflix resolves. Further, the developers also use this suite to automate the integration and deployment of several codes in daily operations.

Fidelity International

Fidelity International, a leader in FinTech, adopted cloud-based agile technologies to accelerate its DevOps process. They implemented DevOps test automation and deployment to enable rapid detection of flaws, quick resolution, and a faster release of newer versions. Adopting automation resulted in significant cost savings due to regular but minor updates rather than complete overhauls.

Walmart

Walmart conceived WalkmartLabs for technology innovation and development. It implements a DevOps approach to a cloud-based infrastructure. The focus was on automating application deployment using open-source tools to create application logic that can be used directly. It employed the agile methodology to streamline the automation of integration and delivery.

Amazon

Amazon has become a massive enterprise with multiple verticals and a reach into the nooks and corners of the world. It required a robust infrastructure and a DevOps process to arrange for the most appropriate server capacity. With the help of automation in the AWS cloud, the servers could be scaled up or down. Similarly, continuous deployment became possible as automation enabled developers to choose the suitable server.

Nordstrom

Nordstrom, the leading fashion retailer, revamped its mobile application with the help of DevOps automation. They reduced the lead time of product delivery by implementing a robust communication channel between sales and operations teams. A continuous planning process supported by a single work backlog helped streamline the orders and complaints. Automation helped detect and reduce bugs, resulting in monthly releases.

Facebook

Facebook has millions of users, requiring a massive IT infrastructure management system. As there may be several repetitive issues and queries, Facebook employed automation for continuous improvements, issue resolution, update release, and incremental modifications. This resulted in faster ticket closures and a smooth uprunning of the application.

Adobe

Adobe adopted automation during its transition to a cloud-based service. As in a cloud-based environment, it was now possible to release versions faster, and automation was required to accelerate testing, integration, and deployment. Developers used the tools of their choice and could still view the modifications made by other team members on the automation dashboard. This helped with quicker resolutions and faster time to market.

HP

HP implemented DevOps automation to streamline the code developed across three countries and improve team collaboration. It helped reduce the time spent on planning, integration, testing, and deployment. Further, automation enabled developers to keep track of what the other teams were working on so that there was no duplication of efforts. HP was able to automate bug testing and code rework by removing bottlenecks.

Also Read: How to Enable Virtualization: A Guide for Aspiring DevOps Professionals

Can All DevOps Processes Be Automated?

Automation is always preferred wherever possible. Nothing would be better than automating the entire DevOps process, where you only need to feed in your requirements, and the automation tool pops out your software.

However, automation can only be applied to certain stages of the DevOps process. For example, the code of the software has to be planned and written by human developers, but the testing can be automated. Hence, currently, automation is applied mainly to CI/CD, testing, monitoring, provisioning, and security.

CI/CD pipelines can be automated to generate high-quality, secure codes and manage software requirements. Continuous deployment is also automated so that the modifications made in the earlier stages are updated during deployment.

Testing is a critical stage where automation is immensely useful. Testing the entire software after the complete development can lead to multiple pitfalls and loss of time and resources. Instead, automated testing of small sections of the code helps to identify flaws that can be rectified immediately. Additionally, DevOps test automation takes the pressure off the developer, who can begin working on another section of the code while testing one section is in progress, thus saving time.

Provisioning consists of a fixed set of parameters that define the computing capacity. Hence, automating the provisioning saves time by using pre-decided procedures to section and allocate computing capacities on demand.

One of the most commonly used methods is automating security and application monitoring. Security issues can be monitored for predefined issues, and serious breaches can be flagged automatically, thus avoiding the need to dedicate human resources to this task. Similarly, applications can be monitored for flaws during their run, and automation can send alerts to the concerned personnel for quick resolution.

How to Get Started with DevOps Automation

Automation is a great process that must be applied smartly. Random automation without a clear agenda can lead to resource waste, unsolved problems, missing steps, and duplication of work. Here’s a stepwise approach to getting started with automation in your DevOps process.

  1. Plan or revisit your DevOps cycle. Identify areas and tasks that are repetitive or require minimal human intervention.
  2. Mark those tasks in the various stages and evaluate the capabilities required to carry out those tasks.
  3. Explore automation tools that possess those capabilities. Also, explore the software you are already using for its automation features.
  4. Establish the scope of automation and implement it in your process.
  5. Keep an eye out for any suggestions or opportunities to add more automation.

Ready to Master In-Demand DevOps Automation Skills?

DevOps automation is a game changer for software development, operations, and delivery processes. That’s why enterprises seek skilled DevOps professionals to implement automation and achieve the desired outcomes. If you want to develop these valuable skills, a relevant course or a DevOps program can be an excellent starting point.

The program is designed to train you in DevOps fundamentals, essential concepts such as configuration management, container orchestration, and Deployment Automation, and top DevOps tools such as Ansible, Kubernetes, and Terraform. Besides theory, the bootcamp offers ample hands-on training and makes you job-ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is an example of automation in DevOps?

An example of automation is automated error alerts, which identify and flag common errors during code testing and implement the required responses. This is useful for errors that can be solved with simple solutions.

  1. Which automation tool is used in DevOps?

There are many DevOps automation tools available in the market. Some major ones are Ansible, Terraform, AWS, Splunk, Chef, Puppet, Kubernetes, and Jenkins.

  1. Can you automate DevOps?

Yes, you can automate various stages of DevOps to save time and deliver better quality. Automating routine tasks helps team members focus on more critical operations.

  1. How important is automation in DevOps?

Automation has gained great importance in DevOps because it reduces the human efforts required for repetitive tasks and automates error detection, security alerts, simultaneous DevOps test automation, and immediate integration.

You might also like to read:

How to Build a Successful DevOps Career Path? [2024 Guide]

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DevOps Engineer vs. Software Engineer: Key Differences and Similarities

An Overview of DevOps Best Practices

A Guide on How to Learn DevOps Skills

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