DevOps and Automation: What is it, and how can implementing it help?

Updated on by Hayley Brown

In the past twenty years industries and consumers have been propelled into using software and technology on a daily, if not hourly basis. For anything from shopping, to communication, to entertainment and banking. Therefore companies are having to develop software in a unified, automated, and responsive approach for optimum efficiency. 

I started building my glossary of integration platform terms last year and came across DevOps. It is defined as a combination of cultural philosophies, practices and tools that increases an organisation’s ability to deliver products or services at a high velocity. From that brief description I didn’t fully gage that DevOps was a culture or way for development and operation teams to work within a business.  

DevOps Explained

The term DevOps was first coined by Patrick Debois, a DevOps expert, in 2009. It is described as a development strategy that bridges a gap between software development and IT operations. Gartner has defined it as “focusing on rapid IT delivery through the adoption of agile, lean practices in the context of a system-orientated approach. DevOps has an emphasis on people and culture, and seeks to improve collaboration between operation and development teams. DevOps implementations utilise technology, especially automation tools that can leverage an increasingly programmable and dynamic infrastructure from a life cycle perspective.”

DevOps is designed as a collaborative process or culture between two teams. Who aim to use this mindset to reduce the software development life cycle. It means teams can deliver features, fixes and updates more frequently to their customers.

How does DevOps work?

It has been noted by several top thought leaders, in the DevOps, field that it emerged as an outgrowth and works in a similar way to Agile. The Agile Admin explain that “agile software development prescribes close collaboration of customers, product management, developers and sometimes QA to fill in the gaps and rapidly iterate towards a better product, service delivery and how the app and systems interact are a fundamental part of the value proposition to the client as well, and so the product team needs to include those concerns as a top-level item. From this perspective, DevOps is simply extending Agile principles beyond the boundaries of the code to the entire delivered service.”

Common capabilities to DevOps cultures include collaboration, automation, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. 

Collaboration is a vital element of DevOps culture and filters throughout the other capabilities. Through collaboration there is an increase in communication between teams, which enables development operations to be seamless, rapid, and effective. This can not only be vital to development and operation teams but can be applied across an entire organization. 

Automation is an important means to accomplishing work efficiently between teams. Where there is automation there has to be tools, whether they are made in-house or bought. They are heavily relied upon to automate large parts of the development operations and deployment process. When automation is adopted it can lay the foundation for scaling and standardising automation across an entire organisation.

Continuous integration refers to the merging of source code updates from all developers on a team. The continued merging prevents a developer’s local copy of code for a project from drifting too far afield as new code is added by others. Thus avoiding merging conflicts. Developers will merge code updates on a regular, if not daily basis. They communicate frequently to help minimise any errors or conflicts. 

Continuous delivery has been well defined by Amazon Web Services as “a software development practice where code changes are automatically built, tested, and prepared for a release to production.” This process relies heavily upon automation, so it can deliver updates into a production environment faultlessly and continuously. 

With all these elements working in unison it results in high speed and quality product releases. A faster responsiveness to customer needs, and ultimately a better working environment. DevOps as a culture can, if working correctly, be applied to an entire organisation to help achieve the overall business objectives.

The DevOps Model

DevOps for Startups 

DevOps can play an important role if implemented early with a startup. It will give them agility and flexibility if introduced early. It can influence how the business grows and develops, putting in place future processes and automations. DevOps gives a sustainable power for the company in the market, and the ability to compete strongly with competitors. 

An example of why DevOps is important for startups. ‘SaaSy’ an example SaaS startup has launched its product to the market. Early signs show that sales are going well and that they are making a small profit with the user base increasing, the product is in need of upgrading. The founder isn’t interested in further developing the product to satisfy customer needs and the customers are slowly finding more issues resulting in a loss of use, trust and ultimately churn.

If DevOps had been implemented the product would have been continually developed, integrated and delivered to customers. 

Why implement a DevOps automation culture into your business?

DevOps has numerous benefits to not only development and operations teams, but potentially an entire business. While automation makes it easier to achieve DevOps business goals.

DevOps and automation can provide consistency across repetitive tasks through configuring an automation tool, and removing the threat of human error. It can increase the speed of the team from code integration to application deployment. It also creates a much more reliable and stable system due to the improved collaboration. This also sees a reduction in errors from miscommunication. 

Automating processes are scalable when managing multiple applications, and/or environments, all while remaining consistent. Teams have a better understanding of the product due to having access to data about product performance from end-users. Thus then being able to develop a strategy to solve any pain points or errors occurring. 

DevOps culture and the future 

It is believed that DevOps will evolve further in the coming years. It has been predicted that security will be baked in early, with many businesses adopting DevSecOps. Which focuses on the integration of a security component into the DevOps process. This has seen an increase in focus due to the rapid increase in remote working, which heightened security threats businesses face. 

Another prediction is that business people will become part of the team, seeing greater collaboration to help business adapt to digitalisation. With the use of citizen developers working directly with low code automation tools they can build whole interfaces, and resolve integration issues all within the same platform. 

Automated processes will invade the DevOps ecosystem even more with autonomous DevOps automation. It is robotic process automation tools that help with automation of manual and error-prone tasks for greater even productivity. This teamed with AIOps, which provides seamless operational feedback, and automated bug fixes will remove most human involvement. 

There will also be an increased use and advancement in Infrastructure Automation (IA) tools. These IaaS or iPaaS environments provide secure infrastructure where teams can plan and execute self-service integrations, and automations.

Cyclr as an automation tool, how can it help your DevOps?

Cyclr, is an embedded integration platform as a service. The platform has a library of API connectors that can be used to create integrated automations. It can be used as an online solution to take the weight off a DevOps engineer’s shoulders. It is a low code integration tool that enables anyone in a DevOps team to handle automations and integrations. 

Using Cyclr means you can reduce the hours spent on repetitive tasks, lighten the software teams load, and remove developer backlog. It allows you to serve your customers needs, and focus on your main product and improving your infrastructure. Cyclr has been designed for implementation via a private cloud infrastructure and you’ll not even notice it there. 

Software has become an integral part of any business. Its usage is only ever going to increase with digitisation being adopted by businesses around the world. It has established a culture of open communication and enhanced collaboration. Resulting in the ability to better respond to customer needs, increase confidence in the applications that they build and achieve business goals faster.

FAQ

What is a DevOps engineer?

A DevOps engineer is an IT professional who works with software developers, system operators and admins, IT operations staff and others. They oversee and facilitate code releases or deployments on a continuous integration and continuous delivery. Gartner describes a DevOps engineer as someone who “identifies and optimizes the interdependencies between applications development and infrastructure operations through a collaborative approach to continuous delivery.”

On a day-to-day basis a DevOps engineer’s responsibilities include project management, designing and improving IT infrastructure, performing testing and benchmarking, automation, optimising release cycles, monitoring and reporting, and security. 

What is a DevOps toolchain?

A DevOps toolchain are the tools and technology that enable previously siloed development and operation teams to collaborate across the product lifecycle. These tools can help tackle DevOps capabilities such as collaboration, continuous integration, automation, and continuous delivery. 

What are some examples of DevOps tools?

– Jira Software
– DataDog
– Kubernetes 
– Docker
– Ansible
– Chef
– Puppet
– Terraform
– Bitbucket
– Github

Avatar for Hayley Brown

Hayley Brown

With several years experience in the digital marketing space after graduating from Sussex University, Hayley has gone on to work in the retail and education industries. In 2020 she joined the Cyclr team and is working alongside Daniel in the Marketing Department.