Enabling developers with infrastructure automation
Being first to market with new and improved applications and services is how successful organizations grow and differentiate business offerings. Continuous software delivery means everything is fluid and constantly changed to enable the speed and agility required to ensure applications deliver on increasingly higher consumer satisfaction expectations.
Everything released and rolled out needs to be evaluated and updated frequently with new capabilities and features added as requirements change. DevOps, continuous integration and delivery practices play a growing part in the streamlining of software pipelines and accelerating software releases, however for enterprises, the infrastructure supporting the pipelines remains siloed, provisioned (potentially, multiple times) at each stage of the software delivery pipeline.
While infrastructure remains a skill intensive, stage based practice, there is no greater inhibitor to pipeline execution speed and agility and the requirement to scale DevOps to meet the needs of the business.
The result is that IT organizations cannot keep pace and struggle to provide development and testing teams with the infrastructure environments they need, while maintaining security, compliance and efficiency. To help achieve speed and control, many DevOps-focused companies are turning to infrastructure automation. The goal of such an approach is to give DevOps teams access to the environments they need in a timely manner, all while maintaining control and oversight of costs and governance.
The way businesses operate today, DevOps needs production environments available immediately. Developers cannot afford to wait days or longer when starting new projects. Some businesses try to address the challenge by building automated scripts to set up environments.
The problem is that automated scripts are typically custom, hand-coded and require increasingly scarce skills. When changes to environments are needed, custom scripts need the same high level of skills to understand, evaluate, change, and test environments taking crucial time from pipeline execution.
DevOps teams need instant access to infrastructure. The solution must be, application pipeline centric, automated, on-demand and self-service. It must be a platform that not only delivers and manages environments throughout the pipelines but integrate with existing infrastructure tools, subsuming what they create to ensure enterprises meet the demands of the business without inhibiting application software development innovation.
The role of immutable infrastructure
Enabling developers with infrastructure automation is the concept of reusable automation and immutable infrastructure. The concept for immutable infrastructure is to build the infrastructure components to an exact set of specifications. If a change to a specification is required, then a whole new set of infrastructure is provisioned based on the updated requirements, and the previous infrastructure is taken out of service as it is obsolete.
How does that play into automating infrastructure for DevOps teams? Continuous delivery uses automation to make deployments routine and repeatable. To achieve this, delivery is built on the concept of versioning and automation to push deployments to variable environments on a development pipeline.
Immutable infrastructure comes into play in that IT-heavy infrastructure chores, such as implementing updates and installing patches, are eliminated. If an infrastructure element needs an update or must be replaced, the old elements are replaced by new entities that have already made these changes and been incorporated, tested and verified.
Bottom line: Reusable immutable building blocks make it easier to deliver the resources developers really need.
Infrastructure automation should be used to ensure governance. However, traditional cloud governance approaches are limited by features, with infrastructure automation achieved through complex scripting. This results in the automation becoming a major maintenance challenge and a time commitment. With multi-cloud environments, complexity multiples.
The smart approach is to focus infrastructure automation on managing governance across common cloud resources. Putting infrastructure automation in the hands of DevOps practitioners does not mean relinquishing governance control, but ensures corporate compliance is maintained and enforced with policies controlling usage, security and cost. This prevents cloud sprawl without slowing down development cycles.
Meeting todays growing DevOps infrastructure needs is a time-consuming task for IT organizations. It slows down every stage of the application development pipeline. The need is for a solution that provides developers and DevOps practitioners access to the cloud infrastructure and application environments they need on demand. This is accomplished using an Environments as a service (EaaS) platform, accessible through a GUI portal, command line interface and existing CI/CD tools.
A modern environment automation platform must be designed for all team members of a DevOps practice to automate the requesting, provisioning and lifecycle management of infrastructure environments. The platform must integrate without impacting efficiency or limiting innovation. It must deliver environments on-demand with self-service automation capabilities and oversee and enforce governance compliance. This solution is the answer to organizations seeking to streamline the continuous software delivery pipeline for application development, testing and release to production.