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Introduction to Software-Driven Automation from a DevOps Angle

Starting the move from manual or simple setups to an advanced, automated system can seem intimidating at first. However, the fundamental principles of DevOps encouraging teamwork, embracing automation, ensuring continuous delivery, and facilitating rapid feedback loops greatly ease the shift towards software-driven automation (SDA). This piece serves as your friendly guide to grasping SDA from a DevOps standpoint, presented in straightforward language for everyone to understand. Let’s dig into the practical steps that can transform how teams interact with automation.

The Essence of DevOps: Teamwork and Automation

DevOps is not just a set of tools. It represents a cultural shift, a new mindset. It focuses on removing the divides between the development (Dev) team and the operations (Ops) team, encouraging them to collaborate closely and work towards shared aims. Within the SDA framework, this collaborative spirit means that everyone, from coders to system managers, contributes to the automation effort.

This foundational approach is crucial as we explore how DevOps practices pave the way for a smoother transition through the levels of automation sophistication.

Grasping the Automation Maturity Model

Before we dive deeper into the DevOps strategy, it’s vital to get a handle on the ideal automation development maturity model, which unfolds across five phases:

  • Manual (Local): Initial stage where tasks are performed manually.
  • Managed: Introduction of version control and basic automation tools.
  • Simulated: Testing and simulation of automated processes in a controlled environment.
  • Tested: Integration of a comprehensive toolchain for automated testing, including Software in the Loop (SIL) and Hardware in the Loop (HIL) testing.
  • Generated: Advanced stage featuring code generation and automated deployment.

Achieving the optimal result in automation requires navigating through these stages, with the second stage adopting a DevOps approach being crucial for laying the foundation for further advancements.

Key Components to Focus On:

  • Version Control: Think of version control as the foundational step in embracing a DevOps mindset for SDA. It’s akin to having a collaborative editing tool for your code, where tools like Git enable team members to track and manage changes, work together seamlessly, and easily backtrack if needed.
  • Code Libraries: Imagine not having to start from scratch every time. Utilizing existing code libraries and frameworks can accelerate development, ensure uniformity, and minimize mistakes. It’s like having a cookbook at your disposal, but for coding.
  • Delivery Pipelines: The magic of Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines lies in their ability to streamline the journey from code commit to deployment. This automation not only speeds up the release process but also enhances its reliability.
  • Collaboration Tools: Enhancing team communication and collaboration through platforms that support real-time discussion, issue tracking, and knowledge sharing.

Embarking on SDA with DevOps: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Start Small: Begin with automating small, repetitive tasks. This could be anything from automated backups to simple deployment scripts. The key is to get comfortable with automation incrementally.
  • Educate and Train: Make sure everyone’s on board with the basics of version control, CI/CD, and the tools in play. This could mean anything from formal training to casual share-and-learn sessions.
  • Build Your CI/CD Pipeline: Begin with a simple pipeline that handles the build and deployment of a straightforward application. Over time, you can introduce more elements, such as automated tests and security checks.
  • Iterate and Improve: True to DevOps spirit, always be on the lookout for ways to refine your processes. Regular reviews and feedback are key to continuous enhancement.
  • Cultivate Collaboration: Promote open dialogue, celebrate team victories, and view setbacks as learning opportunities. A supportive culture is essential for DevOps to succeed.

Wrapping Up: Simplifying Automation with a DevOps Approach

Stepping into SDA with DevOps at your side doesn't have to be a tough journey. By prioritizing teamwork, making the most of available resources, and streamlining your processes, the shift to automation can be markedly smoother. Remember, it's a journey of gradual improvement and adaptation. Embracing these principles can unlock SDA's full potential, leading to operations that are not just more efficient but also more effective.

About the author

Alexios Sarantis

DevOps Technical Lead

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Eero Kaappa

Service Solutions Director

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