Rahma is overseeing a web application for a new grocery delivery service. The developers are passing their source code to the Operations team members. The Operations team manually set up the servers and deploy the code. This process can take weeks, and deployments keep failing due to minor errors. How can we improve this workflow?
In this article, we will be answering the following questions:
- What is DevOps automation?
- Why use automation?
- What can be automated?
- What tools do we need?
Let’s get started by getting an overview of DevOps automation in general.
Introduction to DevOps automation
Automation is using tools or programming to perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks. When compared to doing the work by hand, automation is:
- Faster — automated processes can perform operations much faster than people.
- Less error-prone — automation is able to perform a task more consistently than a person.
- Cheaper — workers don’t have to be paid to do these repetitive workflows.
Automation sounds powerful — let’s explore what we can do with it.
What can we automate?
We can integrate automation into nearly every aspect of software development. Let’s take a look at some of the ways automation can play a role in software development:
Many project planning tools such as Jira, Monday, and Slack have automation features. These features allow:
- Recurring meetings and standups to be auto-generated
- Notifications to be sent to team members when items are completed
- And more
Building, testing, and deploying
One of the main areas of automation in DevOps is building, testing, and deploying our code. The main practice for this is continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD). CI/CD tools allow for automated building, testing, and deployment of application code. CI/CD helps ensure a working prototype is available and running with the most recent changes.
Automation is useful for processing logs and collecting metrics when monitoring software. Visualization tools allow for the processed data to be converted to interactive diagrams.
Let’s see what tools we can use for these tasks!
Popular automation tools
There are many tools available to assist in DevOps automation. In this section, we will be taking a brief look at some of the most popular automation tools used in DevOps.
- Jenkins - most popular and well-known
- GitHub Actions - integrated into Github
- Gradle - a focus on building and compiling
While they have their differences, all three automatically build, test, and deploy code. Learning these tools allows us to automate aspects of our DevOps workflows. When learning one tool, keep an open mind about learning the others as well. Each DevOps team will have their own DevOps automation workflow. Having flexibility with our tooling can be a great asset.
DevOps automation prevents people from repeating the same time-consuming steps over and over. We have learned how automation can help with many parts of software development:
Automation can speed up workflows, reduce human errors, and save money. It’s no wonder that many companies are using these automation tools for their projects!