DevOps Challenges Every B2B SaaS Must Overcome To Succeed: Implementing Cloud Infrastructure Automation

  • May 6, 2021

Infrastructure is everywhere. Keeping up with the growing complexity and size of infrastructure at your organization may be getting harder and harder. Doing a poor job of keeping up can result in costly delays to updates, patches, or resource delivery. It could result in even worse problems in the future.

In order to regain visibility and control over their infrastructure, many businesses and IT teams relay on automated Cloud Infrastructure which allows for servers and services to be provisioned with code as opposed to physical or manual configurations. As of 2019, 68% of businesses had cloud-based systems in place.

Your business may already be cloud-native or it may be considering a move from a legacy infrastructure to a cloud infrastructure that uses automation. If you haven’t yet begun using Cloud Infrastructure Automation, there are many reasons you will want to start thinking about it.

The Benefits of Automation

When automating your cloud infrastructure, you essentially want to implement “infrastructure as code.” In the past, IT teams would manually configure their infrastructure. Using Infrastructure as Code or IaC, the infrastructure takes the shape of a code file. There are many direct and indirect benefits to doing this.

Process Reliability

First and foremost, automating your infrastructure or implementing IaC reduces human errors. The speed and control you will have, along with the process reliability, will allow for the creation of new environments or deployments for multiple purposes.

Change management

By versioning all the IaC files much like you would application source code, you will have full traceability. You will have a clear picture of who did what and when. Another benefit of IaC is Process Enforcement Documentation. The only documentation outside of the configured files you will need will be for the architecture of the infrastructure. This is the “WHAT” of the infrastructure. The “HOW” is defined in the IaC.

Disaster Recovery
Heritage recovery strategies may not address the entire scenario when disaster strikes. By being able to trace your work across a development lifecycle, you can rebuild instead of restoring your infrastructure in the same or another geographical location. When a disaster does happen, you will be able to rebuild quickly and consistently.

Indirect Benefits
Two indirect benefits of IaC are right-sizing for cost optimization and more straightforward and reliable ways to update for compliance and security standards. There is no doubt about it; IaC lowers infrastructure management costs. When your organization uses the cloud, it eliminates many hardware, employee, and physical space costs. Security and compliance updates become easier to implement.

Managing Infrastructure As Code
Managing Infrastructure as Code can be tricky even for the most experienced teams. One of the biggest challenges lies in how to manage the infrastructure. Your code will need structure, organization, many tests, and code deduplication. While IaC is more consistent and reliable than a manual process, there are a few best practices you and your team need to be aware of:

  1. Use Composable Infrastructure, a pre-cloud concept that can be moved to the cloud. With this strategy, you can combine IaC modules (i. e. Terraform modules) as opposed to connecting boxes. Each module will manage each one of the components of your infrastructure (network, databases, clusters, etc).
  2. CI/CD: Infrastructure code must be managed like application code. You need pipelines with automated tests and deployments.
  3. Version Locking: All your infrastructure and its modules must be versioned. The versions you are applying in different places must be tracked in Git to maintain the reliability of the process.
  4. Document: But do not over document. Each module can be understood by reading the code. Document what your modules do, the inputs and outputs. You don’t need to document how it works.

Despite the challenges, Cloud Infrastructure Automation and IaC will make the lives of your IT team much easier—and save your organization money in the process. Gone are the days of manually configuring your infrastructure. Your teams will spend less time on manual tasks and more time creating and innovating. Your company will benefit from the speed, efficiency, and reliability, not to mention the cost optimization and innovation of having an automated infrastructure.