DevOps teams are expected to do more work in less time. They need to plan, test, build, secure and release applications at a fast-paced rate. Of course, the DevOps team needs to achieve all of this while maintaining high software quality. This is why automation is a crucial part of the DevOps workflow. The goal is to delegate repetitive tasks to the machine, and free up dev time for more complex jobs.
Below are some helpful automation hacks you can apply to boost the effectiveness of your DevOps practices.
Automating Regulatory Compliance
Properly managing regulatory compliance is vital for many organizations to avoid fines and operate legally. Although compliance standards vary by industry, most focus on ensuring privacy and confidentiality. To meet these standards, companies must secure data and prove they are taking the appropriate measures. This proof is commonly accomplished with the maintenance of a clear digital trail.
You can use DevOps automation to log and store digital access trails for your protected data. You can also use automated testing and deployment to ensure that only code that passes compliance tests is deployed. This prevents compliance issues from being pushed to production and helps keep your data secure.
Automating Development Environments
DevOps workflows require frequent creation and elimination of environments, for testing, deployment and development. These environments can be created manually but it is more efficient to create environments automatically. This can be done using a golden image with your required configurations.
Using standardized base images ensures that you are working with consistent environments and standardizes configurations and privileges. These images can be used for local or remote machines and can be initialized automatically.
There are a variety of tools you can use to create and automate environment creation. Chef and Vagrant are two of the most popular. Both of these tools offer an accessible API and enable you to script automation using common languages and syntax.
Automating Code Review
Code review is an essential part of DevOps processes but it is also one of the lengthier and more tedious processes. Automation can help you perform this process more efficiently. Automatic code review works similarly to manual review except it is done using tools that integrate with development environments. These tools can check for styling, security, duplication, complexity and code coverage, and can auto-suggest corrections. Some popular tools for this automation include Codebeat, Code climate and Codacy.
Automating File Synchronization and File Uploads
Many DevOps and development teams use the public cloud for quickly spinning up development and test environments. However, what happens when the production environment, or other critical resources used in the dev/test process, are deployed on-premises? Having a fast, automated and reliable way to synchronize files between the on-premise data center and the cloud can save time and headaches.
There are a few approaches to synchronize files:
- Scripting file uploads and downloads. The most basic method is to use shell scripts and FTP or SFTP to upload and download files between local and cloud environments. However, this can be fragile, unreliable and difficult to scale.
- Using APIs of cloud storage services. You can move data to and from the cloud using cloud storage APIs, such as the Amazon S3 API, the Box API or specialized hosting services such as Cloudinary.
- Hybrid cloud. The ultimate solution is to create a hybrid cloud architecture where applications, developers and users view the local environment and the public cloud as one unit, and data is synchronized transparently in the background.
Collaboration Tools for DevOps Teams
There are a number of collaborative tools that teams can use to further boost gains from automation. These tools can help bridge gaps in automation and processes and ensure smooth workflows.
Slack: a chat tool that DevOps teams can integrate with automation tooling. It includes features for segregating discussions by topic, team or purpose; uploading shared files and documents; and initiating or receiving alerts from automated processes via integrations.
Jira: a tool that enables you to create and assign tasks. It includes features for scrum and kanban methodologies, unified reporting and backlog tracking. You can integrate it with many common DevOps tools, such as Jenkins.
Trello: a cloud-based Kanban board tool. It enables you to create project boards that can be shared across teams to track project progress. Through integrations, you can automate the updating of cards or initiate processes when cards are manually moved.
Asana: another cloud-based Kanban tool. Like Trello, it enables you to track and collaborate on projects across a team. Typically, when teams use tools such as Asana, they create multiple boards for different project aspects. These boards can then be viewed individually or from a central dashboard.
Hopefully, this article helped you figure out how to leverage automation for improved efficiency. There are many automation options for DevOps, including automated regulatory compliance, automated infrastructure, automated code review and automated file synchronization.
For DevOps project management, you can use collaboration tools such as Slack, Jira, Trello and Asana. Remember to make sure that any tool you introduce can be simply and easily integrated into your current environment. The tools of your choice also need to fit the skillset of all collaborators. For ease of use, keep your tooling ecosystem simple and minimalistic.