DevOps Automation Best Practices
November 17, 2022

Susmitha Vakkalanka

There is no concrete rule book for DevOps automation. The path to automating DevOps is ever-changing. So, there's a significant scope that you may get caught up in the crosshairs of many questions such as where to get started or which processes can and should be automated when you try to automate DevOps.

Start with: 5 Business Benefits of Automating DevOps

Before we look into the DevOps automation best practices, let's dive deep into some common guidelines to help you decide what and how you automate:

1. Prefer open standards: Implement DevOps automation tooling that follows common, open standards and procedures. So, whenever your team or contributors change, you can simplify onboarding and save time on specialized training, without any need to change your tooling. Moreover, as DevOps and deployments are moving to the cloud, community-driven standards for packaging, configuration, runtime, networking, and storage can also be preferred.

2. Leverage dynamic variables: Using reusable code helps you significantly decrease the amount of rework and duplication you need to do now and also in the future. Leveraging externally-defined variables in your scripts or specialized automation tools is the optimal way to apply automation to various environments without any need to change the code itself.

3. Use flexible tooling: Flexible tooling helps you adapt to the changing DevOps ecosystem. Finding a one-size-fits-all tool is not possible always, but using DevOps tools that facilitate flexibility to change technologies helps in reducing rework when you change your objectives or direction. Select a solution that has a wide range of partner integrations that work with any cloud, so you’ll be able to reach your objectives without being constrained by your toolchain.

4. Rely on AI: Leverage data-driven AI algorithms to identify specific patterns within DevOps processes and deal with bottlenecks and challenges. AI-driven DevOps tools can make your work easy when it comes to monitoring development and production.

5. Unify DevOps toolchain: DevOps toolchain fragmentation and pipeline diversity hamper visibility across the software development lifecycle. High fragmentation across the tools makes it challenging to centrally manage and optimize the performance of the DevOps automation toolchain in real time. So, it's imperative to unify the visibility of the DevOps lifecycle to measure, benchmark, and improve software delivery and deployment.

As we have curated all the guidelines you need to get started with DevOps automation, now is the time to know the best practices you need to adopt to leverage the full potential of automation. Here are some of the DevOps automation best practices:

1. CI/CD

Continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment (CI/CD) go hand in hand with DevOps. The DevOps methodologies, along with the CI/CD pipeline, improve your developer productivity. Though CI/CD and DevOps are not the same, CI/CD is still the key aspect of DevOps automation. So, CI/CD is the first element you need to automate. You can integrate automation across all the aspects of CI/CD, including code commits, builds, and deploying packaged applications in testing or production environments. This helps in agile monitoring, integrations, and testing to deliver and deploy changes to the application faster while maintaining high quality. Moreover, automating CI/CD frees your team from mundane tasks and allows them to focus on learning new things and adding value.

2. Version controlling

Version control, also known as source control, is an important element of any DevOps strategy, helping teams to manage and track the changes made in the code across the software development lifecycle. Details such as when the changes were made, what the changes were, who made them, and why the changes were made will be tracked, preventing concurrent work from conflicting. So, automating version control takes the above-mentioned benefits to the next level. Moreover, version control automation saves time and produces consistent results.

3. Change controlling

In addition to maintaining your code's version history, implementing a defined process to roll out application changes helps in scheduling and deploying a change with minimal impact on existing customers. It also helps in maintaining product direction, while reducing the scope of harmful changes to your code.

One of the crucial aspects of change management is defining how a change should be assessed, accepted, and tracked. New change requests must be prioritized as per the existing backlog of scheduled work.

By implementing automation into the DevOps ecosystem, the change management process can be optimized. Automated quality control elements such as test runs and monitoring alerts can help your team assess the basic health of changes without extensive manual testing.

4. Configuration management

To maintain your systems in the optimal state, you must configure the operational systems, software requirements, package dependencies, and system files. However, the traditional process of handling configuration management manually or with custom scripting can be complex and expensive. Through automation, configuration management can provision a new server within minutes with less room for manual errors. The automation also helps you in maintaining the server in the desired state, such as a standard operating environment, without the need for provisioning scripts.

5. Infrastructure as code (IaC)

Embrace Infrastructure as code as it enables you to provision, configure, and maintain infrastructure components such as network components, and virtual machines by leveraging pre-defined code. The software-defined approach helps you automatically define, test, and deploy new infrastructure with new configurations when changes are introduced. This helps you avoid manual errors while saving time and money.

6. Continuous monitoring

Continuous monitoring helps glean operational insights by monitoring the performance and stability of applications and infrastructure throughout the software lifecycle. So, by choosing the right monitoring tools that automatically interpret the raw data and provide correlated insights and actionable intelligence. Automation also enables you to create automated monitoring rules and generate alerts to keep track of infrastructure availability, application performance, and security issues, among others.

7. Log management

Logs facilitate large amounts of data about critical business components. Application logs, infrastructure logs, and audit logs provide insightful data that helps in identifying issues and tweaking code and infrastructure configurations for improved performance. Through automation, you can easily aggregate and analyze these logs and easily identify errors, monitoring activities, and performance metrics.

Opsera's continuous orchestration platform enables you to democratize DevOps by integrating your choice of CI/CD tools and no-code automation across the entire software development lifecycle. With Opsera, your development teams have the freedom to choose the tools they need, the operations team gains improved efficiency, and business leaders have unparalleled visibility. Moreover, Opsera's continuous orchestration platform provides self-service toolchain automation, drag-and-drop declarative pipelines, and unified insights, giving you peace of mind.

Susmitha Vakkalanka is VP of Marketing at Opsera
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