4 minutes

It’s not a secret: DevOps is THE philosophy for development that will make you competitive while answering to your clients’ needs the fastest you can. Let’s talk today of a must-have of DevOps: automation. If this automation is integrated since the beginning of your development, it will bring many advantages to your project and team!

DevOps culture

It’s hard to talk about automation without making a quick reminder about DevOps culture. DevOps is born from the will to break silos between dev and ops teams. Its first goal is to make up for the lack of agility in structures.

DevOps is based on 5 pillars:

  • The Culture,
  • The Automation of tasks,
  • The Lean or continuous improvement,
  • The Measurement of performances,
  • The Sharing of knowledge between all the team members.

What is automation?

Let’s dive in the deep. The automation is the integration of technologies in defined tasks, in order to narrow the human intervention. However, be careful : the automation does NOT replace the man! It only offers an alternative, allowing your teams to focus on higher adding-value tasks.

While automating repetitive and low adding-value tasks in your developments, you can increase the productivity and efficiency of your teams, as well as the consistency of your project. To sum-up, the automation helps you to develop more intelligently and faster. But what is automation exactly, and where is it located in your project? Don’t panic! We explain you all. 👇

Automate its DevOps processes, the key to success?

Thanks to the automation of development tasks, your teams will take advantage of DevOps power. Many lasting benefits will appear in your project!

To a continuous improvement of your work’s environments

Automation takes into account your whole development processes. We actually talk about “Continuous Everything” to name this practice. 

📌  First step: the continuous integration. It permits to check that all developments are compliant to your project needs, and respect standards (syntactic, qualitative…).

📌  Second step: continuous delivery and deployment. After validation of the first step and of your code, you can deploy and deliver with confidence!

To sum it up, the automation of your process happens at each step of your development. It’s a way to integrate continuous improvement in your project! This way, your infrastructure will support the continuous modifications of your code, which are inherent to DevOps.

Simplify your project’s tests phase

To verify their code, your teams have to accomplish many tasks: unit tests, integration tests, vulnerability search… without automation, those tests will required human intervention. Sadly, this intervention is an open door for mistakes (because it’s human to err). Your project might accumulate delays, which will not please your clients! Neither your teams: everyone prefers when things go smoothly.

Thanks to automation, you can now facilitate all the steps of your project (checks, performance, safety). Moreover, you ensure those tasks will be performed at each modification! The control over your project will be more constant, which will make you gain in reliability and help grow trust in your teams and solution. It’s a win-win!

Of course, developing those automated tests will require time when you first set up your project. But it will be worthwhile at medium and long term for the speed of execution of your tasks and for the quality of your code.

Gain time to focus on critical tasks

No need to start from scratch to integrate automation into your developments! There are a lot of open source tools that can support your team in the DevOps approach. For example: GitHub, Azure DevOps or even GitLab! This last platform integrates all the tools necessary to the development of DevOps projects!

DevOps Automation: the first steps

Understanding that automation is a vital process for your DevOps strategy is good. But knowing where to start is better!

Install and configure a GitLab runner

A runner will execute your jobs. It will launch them automatically every time a commit will be pushed or a branch will be merged. Configure a runner isn’t mandatory in GitLab. The platform offers ready-to-use ones! But if you want to create your own file, GitLab explains in its documentation how to do it.

What is the file .gitlab-ci.yml?

During your runner configuration, you’ll see appear the file name .gitlab-ci.yml. This file includes all the stages of your continuous integration and deployment pipeline, as well as the jobs in this pipeline and their characteristics. It’s your pipeline’s passport and the foundation for your automation’s tests!

At Go2Scale, we have defined a list of stages allowing to use R2Devops in the most optimal way possible.

List of stages in R2Devops pipeline - First step of automation

To see a concrete example of a .gitlab-ci.yml file, you can go into R2Devops documentation. You’ll find here all the explanations to create your file step by step.

Visualize its results

Without visualizing your results, the automation work loses its value. GitLab offers many ways to integrate a report. The ideal is done via a Merge Request Widget! In order to work, your jobs need to produce reports readable by GitLab, which will integrate your data directly into your Merge Request.

Merge request widget, to visualize your result in your GitLab pipeline

Those reports are privileged into R2Devops’ jobs! The result of your job is easily accessible, and you can compare the reports of various Merge Request in a blink of an eye. An easy way to continuously improve without tearing your hairs out!