Jul 20 2023

3 Ways to Apply Automation for a Faster, More Efficient DevOps Practice

Automating DevOps improves the performance of mission-critical systems, helping agencies keep pace with evolving technology.

Agencies need tools in place to support faster, automated software deployments if they want to keep pace with evolving technology and government requirements.

DevOps was barely on the government’s radar 20 years ago, with a typical agency’s development teams working in silos, handling single applications at a time. This was highly inefficient, as all processes — including monitoring, testing and development — had to be done manually. Projects took days, if not weeks or months, to complete.

The demand for efficiency grew as technology evolved, and once it became obvious that collaboration between developers and IT operations was needed, DevOps was born. Agencies use DevOps to monitor mission-critical operations such as artificial intelligence environments and weapons systems, but most of last year’s approximately $100 billion in federal IT spending went toward operating outdated, i legacy systems rather than automation.

Things don’t need to be this way. IT professionals should consider the following three key steps for automating DevOps to increase efficiencies and improve the performance of mission-critical systems.

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Use Infrastructure as Code to Its Full Potential

In the past, any application release cycle required server hardware to be installed, a costly and time-consuming process that could lead to delays. To remove these impediments, agencies today demand a more software-defined, virtual hardware stack that is flexible, portable and responsive.

Infrastructure as Code drives this change by enabling developers or system administrators to construct templates describing how resources must behave. These documents are essentially source code and can be incorporated into a continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline and DevOps tools such as GitHub, Microsoft Azure and Puppet.

The real power of this approach is that DevOps teams can recreate the infrastructure whenever they like, knowing it will deliver the same experience regardless of where it is deployed. As standard approaches become more prevalent, IT professionals can deploy the same template across multiple environments including the cloud, data centers or hybrid.

Moreover, by removing the human element and standardizing deployment models, Infrastructure as Code speeds software releases, reduces errors and results in more productive, satisfied IT workers.

DISCOVER: Infrastructure as Code offers federal agencies six key benefits.

DevOps Is Only as Good as Your Testing

To ensure successful DevOps adoption, standardized and automated testing is a must. Unstructured manual testing can threaten productivity and agility because it often involves jumping between multiple tools to perform tasks, which creates a complicated testing environment, delays processes and leads to disconnects between teams.

Manual testing of operational components also negates many of the benefits of DevOps because it’s a labor-intensive process prone to error.

Development teams must find ways to automate as many testing processes as possible to ensure no bottlenecks are created.

Automated, continuous testing eliminates human error and ensures all bugs are fixed before production. Multiple test environments and processes can be created, and due to standardization, multicode testing can be performed more predictably and by various people — reducing reliance on a few talented developers and creating more stable workflows.

LEARN: DevOps helps agencies reduce technical debt.

Agencies Need End-to-End Oversight of Services and Components

Hybrid cloud environments are complex, and teams typically rely on a stack of DevOps automation tools to optimize the software development lifecycle, improve performance and streamline the DevOps pipeline. However, these tools generate vast amounts of telemetry data that traditional monitoring platforms can’t manage effectively.

Using disparate tools also creates more silos — the very problem agile methodologies are designed to solve. These issues are only growing; recent data shows public sector IT professionals see IT complexity as the most significant obstacle to hardening their agencies’ cybersecurity posture.

Instead of struggling with an array of monitoring tools, a better way is to adopt full-stack observability. Designed with the needs of DevOps, software development, ITOps and security in mind, full-stack observability provides comprehensive visibility and end-to-end oversight of service delivery and component dependencies via a single pane of glass.

READ MORE: IT leaders alleviate DevOps challenges with automation.

Kriangsak Koopattanakij/Getty Images

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