Best Practices for IT Automation

IT automation creates obvious efficiencies by freeing engineers from having to intervene manually to facilitate DevOps practices, but where do you start with implementation?

Here, we discuss the benefits of IT automation, outline recommended best practices for prioritizing what to automate, and suggest out-of-the-box automation solutions to help you create a reliable single source of truth for any automation or orchestration system.

The Benefits of IT Automation

It is possible to perform DevOps processes including continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD) and log analytics manually, but you would need a lot of personnel and time to do it. Even if you did have the staff and time available, the level of communication and coordination involved would make it virtually impossible to accomplish. The beauty of IT automation is that you can manage these processes using software tools and preset configurations.

Below are some of the benefits that are offered by IT automation.

Speed
Code integration and application deployment can be carried out much faster with automation. This is because you are not relying on a human to perform the task. Humans are not as quick as automation tools at processes such as assessing environments, typing out configurations, and verifying successful deployments.

Predictability
One of the main benefits of machines is that they generally perform as programmed. Automated processes happen in a predictable and consistent way because the tools involved always do things the same way unless they are reconfigured to do something else. Humans do not operate in the same way.

Scalability
Manual processes are not scalable because human can generally deal with just one process at a time. However, automation allows you to deploy new releases to multiple environments, using multiple applications—something you could not do manually. This allows you to release new code quickly and efficiently at scale.

Feedback
The potential to request feedback from users of DevOps automation tools while they are using them is another benefit of IT automation. Once the appropriate processes are established, users can collect feedback on an ongoing basis, allowing them to analyze patterns and anomalies continuously. This is valuable data that can be used to determine any necessary changes and ensures that enhancements are always inspired by the user’s needs.

How to Prioritize What to Automate

In an ideal world, you would fully automate every DevOps process and procedure, but this is not practical. You will have to prioritize certain processes when building your DevOps automation solution. These priorities will not be the same for every DevOps team, but here are some general recommendations:

  • Continuous integration/continuous delivery: The driving force behind DevOps is fast application development and delivery. This is made possible through a set of operating principles and practices called continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD), which allow DevOps teams to deliver code changes more rapidly and consistently. The centrality of CI and CD to DevOps means this should be the primary focus for automation.
  • Software testing: The next priority for automation should be software testing. It is essential to test software before you release it, and testing it manually is inefficient unless you have an enormous team of testers. However, using test automation tools allows you to run tests automatically, not only speeding up the process but increasing the accuracy and thoroughness of the testing.
  • Monitoring: Your third priority for automation should be monitoring every element of your environment. DevOps environments are fast-paced and multifaceted, making them difficult to track manually, but automation tools can check availability, performance, and security issues, even at scale.
  • Managing logs: DevOps environments create huge amounts of log data, and it is just not practical for most teams to collect and analyze it manually. That is why automated log management should be a priority for your DevOps team. Log data is automatically aggregated and analyzed, freeing your engineers for other tasks.

The Solution

The benefits of IT automation for DevOps are clear, but even when you have assessed your priorities for automation, the prospect of implementing an IT automation solution can be daunting. This is where Device42 comes in.

For any automation IT system, Device42 offers a reliably up-to-date, single source of truth. Organizations can choose from out-of-the-box automation solutions such as if-this-then-that tools and homegrown scripts. Whatever solution you implement, Device42’s robust Webhooks and well documented RESTful APIs help to drive automation, and they also provide the facilities to be populated efficiently by automation. When you add in the multiplicity of third-party integrations available, Device42 becomes the natural choice for your DevOps toolbox.

We are there with all the information you need when you open a ticket in your ITSM system, and we can also link CI directly to service tickets due to our integrations with many popular ticketing systems. You can easily view application dependency diagrams for a perspective on which users and applications are dependent on a piece of equipment.

You can also view network diagrams and fragmentation charts when you are planning your IP allocations, and your script can request the next available IP from Device42 via a call to the RESTful API. It’s also easy for your DevOps team to get a list of software installed on a machine using the API, allowing the identification of instances of versions requiring upgrades and the performance of those upgrades to be fully automated. Even better, Device42 also tracks power usage, so you can be notified about issues such as imminent overages, bad battery packs, and elevated temperatures.

Why not try it out for yourself? Start a 30-day Device42 trial today.