5 Building Blocks to Get Started on Infrastructure Automation
Automating infrastructure can be an enormous pain point for developers, and 25% of platform-engineering teams agree. Often, the lack of automation interrupts workflows and keeps teams away from core responsibilities. As infrastructure needs grow and become more complex, it can be increasingly challenging for IT teams to maintain the speed at which they must work. Infrastructure automation becomes a must for giving teams ample support, and deploying it strategically becomes critical for streamlining workflows and delivering products and services.
For teams with no infrastructure automation in place today, it can seem like a daunting journey and furthers concerns over how automation affects jobs. However, not only does automation free up engineers’ time by allowing the team to put their resources toward more meaningful work, but it also enables teams to keep a pulse on the infrastructure while promoting teamwork and collaboration — two key DevOps values.
As more IT leaders strive to create agile teams, one of the first steps is to automate mundane and routine tasks to free up resources. Before embarking on an automation journey, consider making a concerted effort around these five focus areas to drive long-term success.
Small and seemingly unimportant tasks can pop up at any point throughout the day, which can feel like a nuisance to any team. These minor interruptions waste time, break focus and quickly add up during a workday, resulting in minutes — and sometimes hours — diverting teams away from bigger initiatives and projects. Stopping certain tasks and projects to address frequent disruptions can cause teams to feel spread thin and distanced from their more important projects. By introducing automation, teams can lessen the pace and volume of interruptions so teams can spend their time and resources where they matter most.
Automate Common and Broad Tasks
The opportunities to automate are seemingly endless, from the most basic and generic functions to incredibly unique and niche activities. However, for teams to reap the benefits when starting out with infrastructure automation, it’s important to identify broader areas to streamline first. Collaboration and teamwork are arguably the most important components that make up DevOps, and automating broader, generic things that benefit a wider group of people helps further those values.
To work smarter and be more resourceful, consider automating reliable infrastructure that won’t change. Certain IT infrastructure is prone to change, but some isn’t. If leaders choose to automate infrastructure that changes often, it is more of a hassle for the IT team to maintain the automation and re-learn changes in the infrastructure. Automation is all about creating easier workflows for the team, not creating additional unnecessary work.
Start Small with Automation Integration
It’s easy to be tempted to automate as many things as possible when starting your automation journey, but this isn’t advisable. While the team gets their bearings with new processes, start by automating the smaller, easier items and build up to automating more and more things. This allows teams to become familiar with the new operation at a steady pace and learn how automation will play into their daily projects. As time passes and the team becomes more comfortable with automation, IT leaders can incorporate it into the larger things.
Share and Embrace Automation
Engineers can be protective of their coding outputs and proprietary knowledge, often creating friction when introducing automation techniques to workflows for fear of being replaced.
It is natural for engineers to fear that automation could take their job — including being replaced on projects they’re actively working on — but those worries are overblown. No matter how many tasks get automated, IT teams will always need engineers to work on projects. Leaders must help showcase the benefits of automation and guide the cultural shift to ensure these efforts are not sidelined or haphazardly adopted.
Starting an automation project can be daunting, but it doesn’t take long to start realizing its benefits. Today, automation allows teams to do more meaningful and creative work, spending less time on repetitive, manual tasks that fail to challenge our great minds.
While you may want to jump in with both feet, take your time. Gain trust and buy-in from teams by automating certain aspects instead of overcommitting on all your desired automation projects at once. The best course of action is to start small by automating the easy and repetitive activities and working your way to more complex tasks. This will ensure any team adapts to the change and embraces a more collaborative way of working alongside machines.