April 7, 2023

DevOps Cheat Sheet: Deployment Automation

DevOps

Deployment automation can simplify and speed up your software delivery cycle. It can reduce risk, allow teams to easily test after changes are made, and help provide consistency for the overall development pipeline. If it sounds complicated, we’re here to break it down each step into a cheat sheet that provides tips and best practices for the deployment automation process. 

Table of Contents: 

What is Deployment Automation? 

Deployment automation is the practice of creating repeatable, automated processes in the software delivery cycle. This reduces the need for manual work at different stages of testing and production. 

Software deployment is tricky, time-consuming, and complex. Things don’t always go as planned, and sometimes things break along the way. Even if your deployment pipeline is strong and your end goal is solid, it doesn’t always mean that you’ll get where you need to go. 

Automation offers an alternative. With a single click, software can move from a testing environment to production. This also means that after that click, DevOps can ensure that everything is running smoothly, and fast. 

There are many places where you can incorporate deployment automation within existing DevOps processes. Here are some examples: 

  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): When code needs to be deployed across a larger infrastructure, automation can help. 
  • Continuous Integration (CI)/ Continuous Delivery (CD) Pipelines: Commonly called CI/CD Pipelines, these workflows help developers build, test, and deploy software
  • Service Orchestration: Important updates, patches, and other services can be automatically applied to different environments using automation. 

The Benefits of Deployment Automation 

Less Manual Intervention 

Let’s say you need to deploy a software update across different infrastructure environments across an organization. With a manual process, the developer managing the deployment will need to be on call for each step of testing and production. Automation eliminates the need for a single person, or a team, to be on call while software is deployed. 

Reduced Time to Deployment 

Automation can shorten the length of time needed for deployment — allowing organizations to get their products to market faster. This can help gain a competitive advantage by being able to deliver new features and updates more quickly than competitors. 

Fewer Errors, Greater Consistency 

With automation, developers can eliminate the possibility of human error that often results from manual deployment process. Automation ensures that the same steps are executed every time, in the same way, without the risk of missing a step or making a mistake. 

Automation ensures that the environment in which the software is deployed remains consistent across all deployments. This consistency reduces the chances of configuration errors, version mismatches, and other issues that can arise when deploying to different environments. 

>> 👉 Automation can help with more than deployment — download "How Automation Helps You Harden Your Systems & Achieve Compliance"

Your Deployment Automation Cheat Sheet 

At a glance, let’s break down a few of the most important things you should consider when automating deployment — and in the order that they should appear: 

1: Start Small and Iterate 

Start with a single application or process, then gradually expand. 

2: Define Clear Goals and Metrics 

Establish your end goal before your process even begins.  

3: Identify the Right Tools and Technologies 

You don’t need a lot of different tools – you just need the right one.  

4: Collaborate with Other Teams 

Include deployers, testers, ops, and security.  

5: Measure and Optimize 

Plan for continuous optimizations.  

1: Start Small and Iterate: 

Deployment automation can be a complex and time-consuming process, so it’s important to start small and iterate as you go. Begin by automating a single application or process and then gradually expand to other applications and environments. As you automate, be open to feedback and make adjustments based on what you learn. 

2: Define Clear Goals and Metrics: 

Before you start automating, you should define clear goals and metrics for success. For example, you might want to reduce deployment time, improve software quality, or increase frequency of deployments. It’s a good way to measure the success of your automation efforts, adjust as needed, and help other teams adhere to the process. 

3: Identify the Right Tools and Technologies: 

There are many tools and technologies available for deployment automation — it’s important to choose the ones that are best suited for your organization’s needs. 

4: Collaborate with Other Teams: 

Deployment automation can impact different teams within an organization, including developers, testers, operations, and security. It’s critical to collaborate with these teams to ensure that everyone is aligned on goals and provides the necessary resources and support to make it a success. 

5: Measure and Optimize: 

Once your automation process is in place, you must continue to measure its effectiveness and optimize as needed. Continuously iterating on your automation process will help you achieve greater success over time.

Deployment Automation Tips to Keep in Mind 

To make sure your deployment automation is a success, keep these tips in mind: 

Start Small 

Don’t try to automate everything at once. Start with a single application (not critical) and gradually expand as you gain more experience and confidence. 

Test, Test, and Test 

Automation can reduce the risk of errors, but it’s important to test your automated deployment process before using it in production. Test the process in a staging environment to ensure that everything works as expected before deploying in production 

Use Version Control 

For example, use a tool like GIT to manage your deployment scripts and configurations. This will help you track your changes, collaborate with other team members, and roll back changes if needed. 

Use a Configuration Management Tool 

Using a tool like Puppet can automate the setup and configuration of your deployment environments. Puppet can also help to ensure consistency across your environment and reduce the risk of configuration errors. 

Don’t Forget Security 

When automating deployment, it’s important to consider security throughout the process. Puppet can help by enforcing security configurations and your infrastructure and consider using a security scanning tools to check your code and dependencies vulnerabilities.

Deployment automation is an ongoing process — it’s important to continue learning and improving. Keep up to date with the latest tools and techniques and seek out feedback from other team members to identify areas for improvement. 

Test Out Deployment Automation for Yourself 

Interested in seeing deployment automation in action, without a big commitment? 

Puppet’s capabilities can become a helpful tool to reach your automation goals. Puppet Enterprise allows you to automate deployment through your target operating system (Windows, Red Hat, etc.) and across different environments like on-prem, in the cloud, or a hybrid of both. 

Even better, you can try out Puppet for free to see how deployment automation can benefit your organization.

 

TRY PUPPET FOR AUTOMATION