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Automation helps, but you need more to achieve DevOps goals

Automation is an essential step to continuous delivery, but if your DevOps efforts aren't dedicated to advancing the user experience, it'll all be for naught.

Automation is vital if you hope to achieve DevOps goals. Without automation, DevOps will remain an impossible dream and the pressure will build for already-strained development and IT teams struggling to keep up with the pace of continuous integration and delivery.

But DevOps is more than simply deploying the latest automation tool and hoping for the best. It requires a much more holistic approach -- bringing together people, processes, technologies and culture around a shared vision.

So, how do teams align to make automation work for them?

The human factor

Teams need to realign on the shared DevOps goals of improving the user experience and serving customers. This requires teams rethinking every decision and investment around this goal. For example, unless the latest and greatest automation tool improves the user experience, you shouldn't purchase it.

This can be a painful realignment for development teams in particular. Both the development and testing teams need to broaden their focus from being code-centric to being customer-centric. By adopting this approach, it'll help break down barriers and unify disparate teams.

Avoid the one-size-fits-all approach

Don't view automation as a way to eliminate roles. You still require specialist skills and knowledge within your team. The focus needs to be on creating cross-functional, agile teams that are recognized and rewarded for breaking down the long-established barriers between development and operations and working collaboratively. Creating cross-functional, effective teams will ensure the delivery of high-quality products.

The need for speed

DevOps adoption continues to gather steam, fueled by rising demands from the business for speed and agility. With daily releases becoming the norm, this requires bringing the business into DevOps. This is another huge cultural change for teams.

Once you automate, you can build and deploy more frequently, but having a deep bench of automation tools doesn't make you DevOps ready! For example, automation within DevOps should avoid the failings of marketing automation tools, which, despite providing valuable insights, remain siloed from the core business. In reality, you need both automation and collaboration to achieve DevOps.

DevOps and infrastructure form
symbiotic relationship

The DevOps process -- this retooling of traditional workflows -- can often affect infrastructure. A well-oiled DevOps process creates, tests and releases software rapidly as a result of greater communication and automation. Those quick changes in deployments and development cycles can stress infrastructure equipment and personnel. To really do DevOps, your infrastructure better be ready

Monitoring = testing

With the realignment on the user, monitoring is now an essential part of the DevOps roadmap. In the digital world, there is no longer a distinction between testing and monitoring. Continuous monitoring provides ongoing feedback on the user experience as well as breaking down pre- and post-production barriers.

Without automation, DevOps goals remain out of reach, but automation tools alone won't make them a reality. Teams need to collaborate around the shared vision of improving the user experience. Automation is not a panacea delivering on DevOps goals. It's critical that automation be part of a larger DevOps strategy.

This was last published in August 2017

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