How Process Automation and Orchestration Can Make Your DevOps Fly
October 21, 2020

Neil Kinson
Redwood Software

In their efforts to support highly competitive, agile businesses that respond quickly to change, DevOps teams must work smoothly and continuously. But meeting the demands of agile product development can be overwhelming and hold DevOps teams back from delivering to their potential.

One of the main challenges for IT operations and DevOps teams is how to build a QA and testing schedule for software and code that changes every day. And how do you put things into production without breaking current customer requirements? While DevOps has all the tools it needs to develop, test, ship and containerize software, a lack of governance and orchestration can make it difficult to address these challenges.

But IT operations can help DevOps organizations overcome these issues by implementing an automated orchestration layer to standardize and coordinate DevOps processes.

This will enable DevOps to "shift left" with its testing by embedding automation within the application development cycle. This makes it possible to test early and often, and ensure innovations are guaranteed to work in a live production environment.

Standardization

Workload automation is one of the most important tools for enforcing standardization for agile processes. By automating an activity, it becomes completely consistent and repeatable, providing a foundation on which organizations can build QA and testing schedules.

Modern workload automation and scheduling tools give you the ability to easily standardize processes in development, test and deployment with the help of built-in wizards and templates. Supported by time-saving rollback capabilities and automated process documentation for auditing purposes, this takes much of the pain out of managing DevOps processes.

But automated and repeatable processes alone aren't going to solve the challenge of dealing with the constant deployment and development that DevOps entails.

Coordination

The other key aspect is coordination.

Modern workload automation tools provide highly configurable automation that only runs processes when a certain set of conditions is met — whether it's the delivery of data, the completion of a previous process, a certain timescale, or a combination of all three. In a modern tool those services can be presented as a microservice, and the DevOps practitioner can benefit from those capabilities but in the preferred tooling of choice.

In the world of DevOps this means QA and testing processes can be defined and automated, such that when changes are made to an application, the changes are then carried over to the production environment if they bring the intended improvements and that they have gone through the necessary testing and governance process. There is no need for the DevOps team to spend time putting new versions of applications through testing then manually transferring the new code into to the production environment.

Shedding Light on DevOps Processes

Modern workload automation tools also give DevOps teams the ability to visually monitor and edit processes. With DevOps focused on collaboration and eliminating repetitive and time-consuming manual steps, visual workflows and processes chains offer the fastest route to rapid testing.

This means automated processes aren't hidden in lines of code but visible to everyone on the DevOps team through a visual interface. Different steps can be visually combined using the process chain view, while automatic notifications and escalations about issues within applications can enable a quick and agile response.

Modern workload automation enables DevOps teams to build automated processes that are aligned with development cycles. The standardization and coordination provided by an automated orchestration layer lets DevOps teams automatically enforce standards and prevent the business being impacted if something goes wrong.

Implementing an automated orchestration layer is critical to operationalizing DevOps, safely putting new functionality into production and making DevOps truly fly.

Neil Kinson is Chief of Staff at Redwood Software
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