When Not to Automate Infrastructure
IT infrastructure automation is not a silver bullet. In some cases, it might do more harm than good. That's why it's important to first identify whether the business case is a good candidate for automation before jumping on the automation bandwagon and trying to implement it all across your infrastructure.
Here are several scenarios where automation might not bring a good return on investment - or even become a risk.
You're dealing with critical data
Using an automation agent to deploy code is one thing. It's quite another when you're using automation to deal with data.
For example, if you have a critical database that you absolutely can't risk losing, using an automation solution to provision the environment for it is risky. What if your script deletes the database permanently because it simply wipes your cluster clean as part of its provisioning operation? What if the automation tool has no idea where to locate critical data and could potentially ignore or delete it?
Naturally, it's possible to mitigate that risk by configuring your tools in a way to protect critical data resources against accidental deletion or disaster. However, when you're dealing with data that is extremely important to you, manual provisioning might be a better choice because it reduces the risk.
Automating configuration might not be worth your time
Before getting an automation solution, carry out the cost-benefit analysis. The effort required to create automation can be significant, and sometimes it's just not worth the trouble.
For example, if you only create a few environments, you will probably spend less time if you set them manually instead of configuring the automation tools that spin them up.
There's no point in automating something just because you can do it. Make sure that automation always saves time and cost in the long run.
More automation means more code to manage
Consider how your infrastructure automation tools contribute to your incident management and operational maintenance workloads before setting them up. The more templates and automation scripts you develop, the more code will need to be managed and kept up-to-date. You also make sure that it's secure and the right people have access to it.
Before automating something, take a step back and decide whether having more DevOps tools to maintain and secure is worth your time. If you're going to use a script hundreds of times, it definitely is. But if you use something sporadically, it's not a good candidate for automation.
Another thing to consider is the fact that infrastructures might be inconsistent. For example, automation is a great tool if you need to spin up environments constantly on an infrastructure that is composed of the same types of clusters, operating systems, etc.
However, if your deployment environment varies a lot, automation might not be helpful. For example, if you use multiple clouds at the same time or update your infrastructure frequently.
There's no denying that IT infrastructure automation is a must-have for all organizations looking to release updates more frequently and streamline the process of software development.
However, automating a task just for automation's sake is a mistake.
It's important that organizations make sure that implementing automation serves their broader business goals, such as increasing their resilience or operational efficiency.
Every time when tasked with implementing an automation solution, take a moment to weigh its benefits against costs.
And if you're not sure what to do, it's worth consulting with specialists in the matter. At Maxima Consulting, we have years of experience in assisting organizations in automating all aspects of their infrastructures. Our experts know how to tell whether an application or use case is a good candidate for automation with cost efficiency in mind.