Automation is almost always at the top of the list when we conduct technical due diligence reports, and especially when we assess a company’s engineering and DevOps process.
Why? Because automation is central to the DevOps process. It’s almost always one of the biggest differentiators between mature DevOps teams and everyone else.
In this article, we will:
- Discuss the role of automation in DevOps.
- Show why a lack of automation is a major red flag.
- Explain why teams need to find a balance when automating processes.
The Role of Automation in DevOps
Automation is at the heart of DevOps.
It is a “central principle that reinforces all other DevOps principles,” says Colin Fernandes, senior director of product marketing at SumoLogic. “It ‘takes the robot out of the human’ and promotes better collaboration and communication by allowing team members to automate repetitive and routine tasks so that they can spend more time working with each other and less time doing tedious manual work.”
Automation also significantly reduces development time because it creates efficiencies that humans might recognize but cannot replicate, says Cody Littlewood, principal of Carbon Real Estate Investments. “This is because using technology (usually a PaaS) to execute DevOps tasks automatically enables rapid feedback loops between development and operations teams, allowing iterative updates to be deployed more rapidly.”
Automation therefore helps to streamline and simplify the development process. Automating repetitive tasks and manual processes allows teams to focus on concentrative while ensuring that all processes are consistent and reliable. Automation also helps reduce the risk of human error and the costs associated with manual labor.
By automating DevOps processes, teams can ensure that their workflows are efficient, cost-effective, and secure.
Why Too Little Automation Is a Big Problem
It’s a major red flag when we see a lack of DevOps automation during technical due diligence, says Kingsmen Software CEO and partner Bill Clerici.
If you don’t have automation, everything else can fall apart. It’s like a domino effect, Bill Clerici says. “Everything falls over if you don’t have automation in place.” The more manual actions your team carries out, the more room there is for human error. Something simple like pushing builds becomes fraught with risk when developers do it manually.
Here’s another example: One person moves code to development, another developer builds and compiles it on his machine, and a third pushes it into production. If something goes wrong — say one developer forgets to push a particular config file into production — there are now three different versions of a code base out there with no way to easily trace the code and find the error.
A lack of automation (or, worse, no DevOps processes at all) signals that your team isn’t efficient at shipping code. And even when code is shipped, it probably isn’t very high quality.
Too Much Automation Can Also Be an Issue
It is possible for some businesses to go too far the other way and take automation to an “unproductive extreme” says David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte.
“In an attempt to automate development processes, people link together too many tools and end up over-automating,” he writes. “This level of DevOps automation can lead to all sort of undesirable outcomes.”
Like anything in life, balance is key. “It's a matter of understanding your own requirements when it comes to development, testing, and deployment,” says Linthicum.
“Only when you have that information should you bring in the appropriate processes and automated tools. You must also provide the training required to make sure your developers and administrators understand the proper use of the tools.”
Fix Automation Red Flags With Kingsmen Software
Kingsmen Software is an outlier in terms of the importance we place on automation. It is actually one of the core principles the company was founded upon. The rest of the industry is slowly catching up, but there is room for everyone to improve.
To that end, our team can turn a technical due diligence report into an action plan. We can highlight the ways in which your DevOps team can increase automation and even help you put them in place.
Find out more by speaking to a consultant today.