Thanks to Copado for sharing their insights on automation and DevOps.
One big DevOps misconception is that it is about technology. While a key component, technology alone can’t solve all your software development lifecycle problems. DevOps also requires your business to embrace a new culture. Implementation strategies will differ based on an organization’s size and systems, but most philosophies have a common thread. Almost every expert will agree that end-to-end automation is vital for DevOps. Not only does it let you make the most of DevOps technology, it helps you build a more proactive, transparent DevOps culture.
Automation enhances all components of effective DevOps
If you want to break down the components of effective DevOps, you’ll have to consider both culture and technology. Part of implementing end-to-end automation is looking for how it can add value to each component, supplementing other technologies and helping you build a culture of DevOps.
- Proactivity: DevOps is a proactive strategy as it seeks to reduce problems before they happen. Stakeholders are empowered to come up with resolutions without having to clear them with everyone. Automated testing lets you keep pace with development so you have time to analyze results and fix potential defects early on.
- Goal-oriented: DevOps practices aren’t an end unto themselves. They center on an end goal, whether that is improving productivity, reducing bugs, or supporting staff. The developers select the goal and then work backward from it to come up with better strategies, including leveraging automation to eliminate bottlenecks.
- Accountability: A culture of accountability should not be mistaken for a culture of blame. With a strong culture, employees will readily communicate problems rather than cover them. Automating tests and validation gives employees more room to explore and innovate, free from the fear one small mistake will bring the whole project crashing down.
- Communication: Stakeholder alignment is critical in DevOps approaches. Everyone involved needs to understand the goals of the project, what is required of them, and how they can further the mission of the company. With automation comes reporting, which can improve transparency and facilitate communication between teams.
- CI/CD: Continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines are crucial for DevOps as they ensure the timely delivery of updates and improvements. It also allows for easier detection of errors due to how often code repositories are checked and tested.
- Continuous testing: Continuous testing goes right along with CI/CD and automation. A test accompanies every line of code so you can ensure that it performs as expected. With continuous testing, you locate issues earlier and prevent widespread problems.
- Version control: You must track the changes made in your code and ensure everyone follows the same standards. Version control makes these changes transparent and easier to understand. When there is a problem, you can locate and isolate it.
- Automation tools: Manual steps are not scalable – and that’s vital in a DevOps environment. If a process is high-volume, repeatable, and predictable, you want to find a way to automate it so your developers can focus on higher-value tasks. You can use automation to support your CI/CD, continuous testing, and version control systems at scale
DevOps will mean different things to different organizations. However, all the above components should be included, regardless of industry type or software needs. With the above, you set the foundation for end-to-end automation and position your organization to make the most of its benefits.
Where end-to-end automation testing fits in
End-to-end automation has applications throughout the development lifecycle, but one of its key uses is to speed up testing. Testing is a necessary but time-consuming part of any DevOps cycle. The size of modern systems and software make it impossible to adequately scale up manual testing.
Robotic process automation is an ideal tool for this. RPA-based testing can be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline. As you deliver changes, you’re also providing the tests that verify their efficacy. Testing is one of the most common bottlenecks in the CI/CD pipeline, but RPA helps overcome these issues proactively. Of course, when you’re considering these tools, it’s important to choose options that are:
- System agnostic: You should not have to use a different test for every platform, app, or cloud you work in. Any end-to-end automation testing tool must be system agnostic to support the diversity of your infrastructure.
- Low- or no-code: Development is no longer an isolated part of an organization. Our world runs on software. The people who handle your big picture goals and business needs should create solutions within the software that works for them. However, they should also be following strong DevOps principles. A low code or no code testing solution helps them make sure that their programs run without bringing in an expert.
- Self-healing: Your software will change over time. That means your tests will need to change too. A self-healing test automation tool will notice these changes and adapt your tests to ensure they continue to work through updates. This component makes these programs truly scalable to keep up with rapid system growth.
- SaaS-based: A software as a service solution is best for deploying end-to-end automation. It comes with its own infrastructure, so you don’t have to worry about a long ramp-up to get your program up and running.
End-to-end automation will support your DevOps principles with continuous testing in a CI/CD pipeline and beyond. Tests are a crucial but time-consuming part of any software development initiative. By leveraging a program that runs on RPA, you can reinforce the scalability and flexibility that DevOps philosophies demand.
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