Many organizations make the mistake of viewing DevOps as a goal in and of itself. In reality, DevOps is a never ending journey during which you’re continuously seeking ways to improve and optimize processes. In the same way, the goal of DevOps Infrastructure as Code (or IaC) is not to merely achieve automation and version control, but rather to use those features to help you streamline workflows and get your product out faster. This will in turn allow your business to see greater benefits such as increased productivity, greater collaboration, improved security, and cost reductions.
DevOps Infrastructure as Code (IaC) Benefits
DevOps is all about breaking down barriers between the development and infrastructure teams so you can streamline workflows and speed up your releases. Infrastructure as code helps to merge these teams together by turning your manual infrastructure configurations into software code. This code is decoupled from the underlying hardware, which means it’s highly repeatable and automatable. You can also integrate IaC with a DevOps CI/CD pipeline, allowing you to take advantage of tools like version control and test automation. The benefits of DevOps infrastructure as code beyond automation and version control include:
With IaC, infrastructure configuration tasks are written as a series of scripts, which allows you to execute these tasks automatically. IaC scripts are also reusable, which means you can create one configuration and then apply it not just to different virtual or physical machines but whole environments, including networks and databases. That means your infrastructure team can spend less time on tedious, manual server configurations and more time on the important tasks that require human expertise. Plus, your development team won’t have to wait as long for their dev, test, and production environments to be provisioned, which means they can complete their work quicker and more efficiently.
Collaboration is at the core of DevOps, and IaC is key to facilitating collaboration both within and across your infrastructure and development teams.
For example, many infrastructure teams suffer from informational siloes – if one sysadmin manually configures and manages a particular server, it’s often very difficult for another admin to come in behind them and figure out what they were doing or how they were doing it. With IaC, you can (and should) use a central repository with version control to store, manage, and deploy your IaC scripts. Version control makes it possible to track and audit changes to a configuration file, so if a particular sysadmin goes on vacation or leaves your organization, any other member of the infrastructure team can easily take over their work.
Another issue in many DevOps pipelines is bottlenecks – particularly when it comes to provisioning and testing infrastructure. These bottlenecks tend to create tension between the infrastructure, quality assurance, and development teams. IaC automates the provisioning process, which reduces the time it takes for the infrastructure team to respond to developer requests. In addition, you can integrate IaC scripts into your CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipeline, allowing the QA team to perform automatic testing and further reducing bottlenecks between departments.
In 2020, misconfigurations caused 10% of all breaches, which is why reducing human error is so critical to the security of your DevOps infrastructure. IaC helps decrease the risk of configuration mistakes in a few ways:
- IaC scripts are repeatable, which means you can create one configuration file and deploy it to multiple environments to ensure consistency and reduce human error.
- When a new configuration is checked into the central repository, automatic functional, security, and quality tests can quickly find and alert you to vulnerabilities and mistakes.
- If errors are found, version control gives you the ability to revert back quickly and easily to an earlier, correct version of the configuration.
Automating your configurations with IaC can help reduce infrastructure costs as well as increase the ROI of your releases. Since IaC configurations are reusable and execute automatically, you can devote less resources to the time- and labor-intensive process of provisioning environments. Getting rid of bottlenecks in your pipeline also allows you to release software quicker and more frequently, which reduces the time and labor costs of each release. In addition, IaC ensures your infrastructure configurations are always correct and secure. Finally, IaC can help clean up old or deprecated resources, which results in a better end-product for your customers and saves money.
Using Infrastructure as Code to Boost Your DevOps Journey
IaC adoption is a crucial step in your DevOps journey. It allows you to apply DevOps principles and tools to your infrastructure, which helps break down the barriers, bottlenecks, and informational silos that typically exist in your DevOps teams so you can streamline and optimize your releases. However, implementing major changes to your processes, workflows, and company culture can be difficult. For a smoother transition to DevOps infrastructure as code, you should consider consulting with the digital transformation experts at Copado Strategic Services. Copado can help you see an ROI from your IaC implementation 30% faster by supporting your people, processes, and products with proven strategies and an empathetic approach.