Automation is at the core of the DevOps methodology. It’s impossible to achieve the speed, agility, and collaboration required for DevOps maturity without automating key processes. DevOps infrastructure automation streamlines your release cycles, facilitating constant collaboration and continuous optimization, to increase the speed and quality of deployments.
What Does DevOps Infrastructure Automation Look Like?
But how, exactly, does automation deliver these results? Let’s look at four common DevOps infrastructure automation practices and discuss how they can benefit your organization.
Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
Infrastructure as Code, or IaC, decouples infrastructure configurations from the underlying hardware and abstracts them as software code. What that means: you write your configurations as scripts in configuration files, which are then executed according to predefined rules, or playbooks. The same configuration files can be reused over and over again, so you can deploy many systems at once with the click of a button.
Since IaC scripts are repeatable, you can ensure consistent configurations across your entire DevOps infrastructure. This reduces the chances of human error and configuration mistakes, which in turn leads to a more efficient deployment process. It also decreases the chances of a breach due to misconfigured security settings, which is a major cybersecurity risk. Plus, the ability to deploy many systems at the same time eliminates bottlenecks in the software development life cycle (SDLC).
Containers and Orchestration
Containers are a method of virtualization that packages up a single application and all of its dependencies into a lightweight and standalone unit of software. Many of these units can be combined to form one, highly complex application. These containers all work independently of each other and are ephemeral, meaning you can create and destroy them as needed to scale your application.
Due to this ephemeral nature, and how complex containerized applications can become, automation is often required to efficiently manage containers. Container orchestration automates much of the work involved in managing a containerized infrastructure, including provisioning, deployment, scaling, networking, and load balancing.
Using containers with orchestration for DevOps infrastructure automation provides benefits like:
- Performance – Containers use fewer resources than servers or even VMs and easily scale, which can help improve the performance of your infrastructure and applications.
- Speed – Container orchestration significantly increases the speed at which you can provision and deploy systems, which results in quicker development and release cycles.
- Agility – Containerized applications are highly modular, with individual units of code that are created and deployed relatively quickly. That makes it easier for developers to pivot when requirements change.
Plus, container orchestration supports digital transformation initiatives such as cloud native development, unlocking even more benefits for your DevOps infrastructure.
Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) is a popular DevOps concept that involves automatically integrating, building, testing, and deploying new code – including both software code and infrastructure configurations – on a continuous basis. That means:
- Automatically testing new code as it’s checked into the repository to ensure that it functions correctly and doesn’t conflict with another developer’s (or sysadmin’s) work
- Automatically creating new builds as soon as code has passed the necessary tests
- Automatically deploying new code builds or configurations to a development, testing, or production environment
CI/CD streamlines DevOps infrastructure deployments and the overall SDLC in several key ways. Automatic integration tools make it possible for many DevOps team members to collaborate on the same codebase simultaneously without stepping on each other’s toes. Automatic build and delivery tools ensure that code swiftly moves from one stage of development to the next without allowing bottlenecks to occur. Finally, test automation allows you to shift left, identifying and fixing issues as early as possible and shortening the feedback loop between end users, developers, and admins.
Security and Compliance Automation
In your efforts to increase the speed and efficiency of your DevOps infrastructure, you can’t forget to prioritize security and compliance. Automated security and compliance monitoring tools continuously check your infrastructure and applications to detect vulnerabilities, compliance drift, and signs of a potential breach. You can also employ automated security and compliance testing to shift left even further, identifying these issues during the development and configuration process.
Using DevOps Infrastructure Automation for More Efficient Systems
Automation strategies like Infrastructure as Code (IaC), container orchestration, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD), and security and compliance automation can help you achieve higher end-to-end efficiency. DevOps infrastructure automation allows you to speed up your configurations and releases without sacrificing quality or security.