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AWS automation still missing pieces for expanded DevOps use

While AWS has built an extensive portfolio of DevOps automation tools, there are still gaps to fill, particularly around continuous testing and third-party tool integration.

AWS has a large portfolio of DevOps technologies, and many DevOps shops exclusively use the cloud provider's automation tools. But industry leaders rarely stay successful when they rest on their laurels. To continue to win over DevOps teams, AWS could add more automation features.

Amazon offers AWS automation services, including CloudFormation and OpsWorks. These tools deploy the infrastructure necessary to create development, test and production environments for a software development project.

Moreover, AWS CodeCommit and AWS CodeBuild enable continuous integration, while AWS CodePipeline helps set up both continuous integration and delivery pipelines. In addition, DevOps teams can use AWS CodeStar to manage all software development activities from a single domain.

Understand DevOps requirements

To identify potential gaps in the AWS automation portfolio, it's helpful to assess common DevOps requirements. Typically, we see the following strategies and initiatives:

  • continuous design;
  • continuous development;
  • continuous integration;
  • continuous testing;
    • security testing;
    • stability testing;
    • regression testing;
    • component testing;
    • smoke testing;
    • continuous deployment; and
    • continuous operations.

The pattern above represents a big circle because DevOps is iterative. This means that you can move from step to step and the loop forms a direct line of feedback from the applications' users to development and operations teams. Most of these processes and steps should also be automated.

But DevOps isn't simply about writing code, pressing a button and then executing a chain of events automatically. The reality is much different. We haven't automated everything within most DevOps chains; there is manual processing mixed in. DevOps tools, including those from AWS, suffer from this limitation as well.

Identify AWS automation gaps

Continuous testing, a vital step for a successful DevOps organization, is one area that requires more automation. Testing is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming activity beyond coding, and the lack of automated testing approaches can stop the DevOps process in its tracks.

Secondly, it would be useful to have an AWS automation service that guides the overall DevOps process from a single console and integrates with third-party tools. DevOps processes and technologies are unique from one company to the next. An automated service that can link to AWS DevOps tools, such as the ones listed above, and other third-party tools would help many enterprise teams.

This type of integrated platform would eliminate the need for DevOps engineers to integrate and automate each tool as a one-off. Instead, they could use abstraction to simplify tool management and integration.

Next Steps

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Automation skills in AWS are in demand

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This was last published in November 2017

Dig Deeper on AWS application lifecycle management (ALM) tools

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