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Automating infrastructure through infrastructure as code and DevOps

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By: Ahmed Banafa

Business agility is a must for firms that need to respond quickly to today's changes in internal and external environments without losing their focus or vision. Automating infrastructure is a good way to achieve that agility. Automating infrastructure is the process used to control all the phases of resources provisioning for business operations, including tools, people, software, and hardware. Also known as configuration management, or IT management provisioning, it's an essential part of keeping the business up and running, especially in today's high-demand environment. 

Today's successful companies rely Automating-infrastructure.pngheavily on nonstop systems and services to win, serve, and retain their customers. They create better customer experiences by delivering innovative solutions that afford them a distinct competitive advantage. Businesses need to ensure that they have the right people, skills, and processes in place if they are to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction. A great way to do that is through infrastructure automation.

Two key techniques

In order to successfully automate infrastructure, two techniques need to work in sync: infrastructure as code (IaC) and DevOps. IaC is an approach in which techniques, processes, and tools are used to leverage the deployment (including configuration) of systems and applications, while DevOps is a term used to describe cooperation, communication, and integration between software developers and IT operations.

Considering IaC as a key element of DevOps is essential to taking advantage of both techniques. Keep in mind that IaC is a crucial prerequisite for DevOps best practices, such as version and source control and continuous delivery, and ensures speedy and reliable deployments.

Using IaC means applying the same rules of application code development to infrastructure provisioning. All configurations should be defined in a clear way and stored in a version management system, just like application code. All components of development, including infrastructure provisioning, orchestration, and deployment, should support the use of the infrastructure code, which can be used throughout business operations.

Benefits of using IaC with DevOps

Some of the benefits of using IaC with DevOps include:

  1. Making the most difficult steps in the software delivery lifecycle, namely development, configuration, and testing, smooth and easy
  2. Applying IaC promotes better collaboration between dev and ops teams, reducing errors and increasing efficiency
  3. Making the recovery process from any outage or downtime faster and painless, since the script is always ready
  4. Improving the customer experience by fixing issues faster and releasing new versions of products quickly and reducing time to market
  5. Expanding the ability of businesses to reach new markets quickly by giving DevOps teams more time to focus on new markets instead of on routine updates and patches
  6. Increasing revenue and business performance

Challenges of using IaC with DevOps

  1. Complexity of today's infrastructures, especially with new technology trends
  2. Budget limitations and teams' resistance to change
  3. Shortage of expertise to understand and manage IaC implementations
  4. Fear of loss of control among some divisions of the business, including IT
  5. Potential lack of collaboration between dev and ops if they aren't yet a DevOps team

Final thoughts

Lay out a long-term vision so the DevOps team can understand the benefits of IaC. Invest in training and establish strong, collaborative processes among all teams to avoid conflict. Start with a pilot program and expand over time.

To achieve success in today's digital world, businesses must be customer-centric and systematically reinvent themselves to serve today's informed and empowered customers. This can be accomplished through enhanced business agility, enabled by DevOps teams that embrace practices like IaC.

You can read more about HP's approach to infrastructure as code here.

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