GitHub Actions, a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) through which DevOps tools can automate workflows, is now available in beta.
Previewed last year at the GitHub Universe event, GitHub Actions is intended to provide not only a way to automate responses to events occurring within a GitHub Repository but also share those workflows across multiple DevOps teams, said Max Schoening, senior director of product design for GitHub.
In addition, higher levels of automation enabled by GitHub Actions should make it more feasible for DevOps teams to test multiple versions of a project in parallel as workflows written in code replace manual processes, said Schoening.
As more manual processes become automated, the number of IT teams who are intimidated by DevOps processes today should begin to decline. Organizations also should be able to apply best DevOps practices more consistently across multiple teams. Too often today the DevOps practices within the same organization tend to vary widely. Schoening also noted that given the open source history of GitHub, organizations will be able to see how workflows have been created for popular open source projects and then copy them.
In addition, Schoening said the arm of Microsoft will continue to invest in analytics that will surface workflow recommendations that can be applied to any project regardless of the language employed or the platform on which it’s destined to be deployed.
On one level, DevOps is all about a ruthless commitment to automation. But when automation goes wrong at scale, it can be extremely problematic. Rather than relying on “black box” approaches to automating processes, a truly open source approach to automation makes it possible for DevOps teams to see how a process is being automated and then extend it if they so choose, said Schoening. To help address the concern, GitHub Actions also provides access to live logs to provide real-time feedback as builds run, which Schoening said makes it easier for DevOps teams to debug automations created using GitHub Actions.
It’s too early to say just how automated DevOps processes will get. There’s an emerging school of thought that contends the goal is to make it feasible for developers to spend 100% of their time writing business logic. It’s not clear whether that goal is achievable anytime soon, but progress is made with each update to continuous integration/continuous development (CD/CD) platforms. As complementary advances in machine learning algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI)—otherwise known as AIOps—occur, it’s apparent many manual DevOps processes will fall by the wayside.
In the meantime, the workflows that make up any DevOps process should become increasingly sophisticated as advances in automation span everything from hybrid cloud computing environment to internet of things (IoT) deployments. The issue soon may not be how cumbersome any DevOps workflow is, but rather the potential limits of the imagination applied to automating them.