As a long time vocal advocate and user of Agile Development Methodologies, I have been very excited about the emergence of DevOps as a discipline that seems to have “some legs” to provide real ROI for IT and the enterprise.
According to the Agile Admin, DevOps has been emerging over the past few years from the collision of two major related trends. The first was called “agile system administration” or “agile operations”; it sprang from applying newer Agile and Lean approaches to operations work. The second is a much expanded understanding of the value of collaboration between development and operations staff throughout all stages of the development lifecycle when creating and operating a service, and how important operations has become in our increasingly service-oriented world.
Taking the whole concept of DevOps to the next logical level and combining it with my background in Automated Workload Management theory and technology, I have been researching and talking to my list of Global 2000 CIOs about Automating DevOps.
In an August 5, 2015 article on the Information Age Site by Chloe Green entitled, “How workload automation can bring DevOps up to speed“, Ms. Green states, “By automating laborious and time-consuming tasks, DevOps engineers are freeing up people resources for higher level projects”. She goes on to state that software development is a laborious, complicated process, requiring skill, experience, creativity, a knack for detail and most important of all, time. Any tool or methodology that can consistently decrease the amount of time spent on redundant processes, tasks, and delays involved in the software development process is music to the ears of application developers.
One of the most buzzed about software development methods today is DevOps, which concentrates on an agile, rapid release cycle by acting at the intersection of developers and operations staff. Research from Gartner estimates that the DevOps methodology will grow in popularity, such that 25% of Global 2000 organisations will employ DevOps by 2016.
Gartner predicts that as a result of DevOps adoption, by 2019 50% of enterprises will implement application release management and automated configuration of builds.
What is surprising to many developers is that there are already solutions that can automate many of the phases of the application release process, no matter if they are routine tasks or infrequent one-offs. Rather than adding multiple application release management tools and creating costly and unmanageable silos of automation, enterprises can save time and money by using the workload automation solution that they already have to automate their application release processes.
Modern workload automation solutions can be used to handle release management and engage in build deployments, execute complex tasks, perform administrative duties, and much more.
Laborious, tedious tasks that would otherwise occupy the valuable time and attention of DevOps engineers become automated processes with the assistance of workload automation, freeing up people resources for higher level projects.
Modern workload automation solutions also save time during the build testing phase. For example, organisations can simplify the application release process and prevent unnecessary bottlenecks by using automation to create a workflow that deploys builds onto machines, installs the kits onto production environments, verifies installation files are correct, and then sends an alert to the proper users that the build is ready.
Following verification and testing of user stories for quality assurance, the workload automation solution can then close and merge stories to be ready for the next review meeting. Development staff can also integrate their existing quality assurance system with an application like Microsoft’s Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, so that every time a bug is logged, a new work item can automatically be created.
And it’s not just developers who can benefit from existing workload automation suites, but the operations team too. One of the biggest problems facing operations team members involved in application release management is ensuring that the machines where the builds are deployed are correctly architected to meet resource demands.
These machines can take quite a beating due to things like repeated regression tests and excessive instances, resulting in machine slowdowns that delay development schedules. Using a workload automation solution, organisations can increase CPU and memory allocation for specific machines, along with purging databases or anything else required to provide an ideal testing environment.
Lastly, one of the cornerstones of workload automation that really enhances the application release management process is advanced event-driven scheduling. Unlike DevOps specific tools, which have limited date/time scheduling capabilities and only work with the systems they run on, modern workload automation solutions provide a single point of control for all of the applications and technologies in an organisation’s environment.
Advanced event-driven scheduling allows organisations to trigger tasks according to a pre-defined event or even a complex combination of events, thereby removing the lag time and delays that tend to accompany manual hand-offs between teams.
Companies that offer software and support in the DevOps space include:
- Script Rock GuardRail
Puppet Enterprise, from Puppet Labs, offers data center orchestration by automating configuration and management of machines and software. Version 3.7, the latest release, features Puppet Apps, purpose-built applications for IT automation, including Node Manager, for managing large numbers of systems that are changed often. An open source version of Puppet is also available.
Splunk is a tool for finding and fixing issues in real time across the application lifecycle, allowing developers to visualize data from production environments without having to access production machines. Splunk helps users embrace devops processes, including continuous integration and deployment.
As indicated in previous posts, one of the Automated Workflow Management platforms that I have been researching over the past 6 months is Stonebranch. The Stonebranch Opswise Automation Center with its integrated drag-and-drop workflow definition tool that enables DevOp engineers to define and automate complex workflows seems to be a natural fit for DevOps.
Over the next several months I plan to review each of these DevOps platforms in more detail and provide my readers with a details overview and ranking for the vendors and their respective technologies.
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