The role of Automation in DevOps


DevOps is a process used more and more by businesses in order to keep up with demands and the rapid pace of software updates for the cloud and mobile applications. Alongside automation, DevOps is able to revolutionize software development.

DevOps practice is often very dependent on automation in order to make fast and frequent delivery. Automation in DevOps can allow more speed, accuracy, consistency, reliability in products.

Thus, we have asked experts in the industry what is the role of automation in DevOps.


DevOps & automation

DevOps is a process of automation that continuously tries to automate the manual processes, according to Santhosh Kumar Bhandari, DevOps Engineer at Atos Syntel. We had been living in a manual era for more than 2 decades. Any process cannot be changed overnight, it takes research, exploration, time, and capacity. DevOps proved to bring business values within a short span.

The more we transform, the more we automated. Hence, we should keep in mind the extent of automation.

Moreover, Khuswant Singh, Lead DevOps Automation Engineer at Next, adds that DevOps can only be implemented by using the various DevOps automation tools. The aim of DevOps is to release a product with the speed of the market and speed can be achieved by automating the mundane, manual repetitive tasks.


Implementing Automation within DevOps

DevOps is a process/methodology or the culture to overcome the manual efforts with Automation in an organization, Santhosh notes.

DevOps provides us with a number of tools and frameworks for automation. A team of certified DevOps architects has to choose the right tools for an organization and design them. Without the knowledge/experience on the DevOps set of principles, any organization would end with an immature process with low efficiency, low reliability, and incomplete automation.

A good amount of knowledge is needed on the DevOps process on how it works and where the automation fits in the process, so as to integrate automation within DevOps.

Khuswant underlines that the overall automation is achieved by using various DevOps tools in each phase of the Software Application lifecycle. Various DevOps tools have plugins to easily the tools together, such as DevOps tools – Jenkins, Git, Docker, Veracode, Selenium, Chef, AppDynamics, ELK, etc.

DevOps can be efficiently implemented by using Cloud services rather than on-premise data centers.


How can DevOps benefit from Automation? 

DevOps is a process of automation that removes the barriers between Dev’s team and the Ops team. DevOps encourages development and testing processes to take place in parallel inside the Dev circle.

Thus, DevOps challenges the code to go through:

“Pre-Deployment test -> security checks -> package -> deploy -> post-Deployment test”

For every piece of code, developers code, this can result in n number of process cycles as the development is a continuous process. Running this process manually is a big challenge for any organization, hence Automation replaces the manual process with automation. Automation can bring the time spent on the life cycle of development to a minimum with some set of tools integrations.

Automation is a core to achieve DevOps processes in an agile way.

For Khuswant, DevOps aims to release the software product with the pace of business and so, automation helps to get things implemented faster. In DevOps, we also use the technique of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to help automatically create a quick additional infrastructure and destroy it when not needed.

Besides, Santhosh continues, DevOps helps organizations to automate the process to bring the outputs faster by automating the release cycles. DevOps with Agile can promote the efficiency of an application to the maximum by repeatedly building, scanning, and testing application every time a new piece of code comes into the environment. The faster and efficient build cycles help businesses to achieve the applications at a faster pace.

DevOps can help organizations to deploy applications in a shorter time helping businesses. Ops takes the responsibility of properly aligning the application in production.

Khuswant adds that Automation and DevOps help businesses develop and release products quicker all the while saving money by reducing manual activities and automating the mundane tasks.


The drawbacks…

Test automation is a very crucial element in SDLC. Indeed, Santhosh states that testing is such a huge process that DevOps engineers need to be careful when automating it. Though the testing is automated in DevOps, the test cases are developed by test engineers and should cover multiple scenarios. Testing should then go parallel to development.

He thus highlights a few challenges:

  • The test cases should be always updated along with the development;
  • The tester should be given prior knowledge on the output of the development cycle;
  • Few types of system integrations testing need more expertise;
  • Sometimes the challenges arise while using zero-downtime deployments.

The test automation should be more matured using AI/ML solutions to overcome the above challenges.


How to strike a balance between both? 

To strike a balance between Testing and DevOps, the Dev teams should collaborate, Santhosh notes. The work culture should involve the CALMR principle from SAFe. The testing team should always be updated to the development teams’ vision and get involved in the scrums.

Khuswant underlines that implementing testing in every phase of application development within DevOps processes is an important aspect. So, ideally, there must be automated test cases implemented that can help identify the bugs/issues quickly right at the early stage.


The future of automation in DevOps

Santhosh believes that DevOps is a culture that removes the hurdles for the Dev team to reach out to the Ops team. DevOps builds up the team to be more agile, more transparent. Automation saves time for manual repetitions of work.

Over the past decade, thousands of companies have adopted automation using DevOps with the help of tools. There are surveys prove that over 48% of companies are adopting the DevOps methodologies. Going in the future, Automation will play a key role for any organization.

Khuswant also thinks that more organizations will be moving towards automation in DevOps, and, in fact, many organizations have started to think towards modernization in the application development lifecycle with the DevOps implementation.


Special thanks to Santhosh Kumar Bhandari and Khuswant Singh for their insights!