Is automation a lifeline and light in the darkness of manual repetition and the pressure to continuously produce and deliver value?
We have advocated the "automate everything" DevOps principle for a long time. However, when we started vibrant discussions associated with our Poke The DevOps Hornet's Nest journey, we agreed to change "automate everything" to "automation" on the DevOps Getting Started poster.
Automation is a noble cause. Automation is a great antidote for manual repetitive tasks. Automation is a promise for consistent and reliable environments. Automation is a key ingredient for the DevOps pipeline that delivers continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous security scanning, continuous delivery, and production monitoring.
However, automation is not a silver bullet!
Automation can (not will) reduce latency, lead and cycle times, and mean time to recovery. Automation can (not will) increase deployment frequency and stakeholder satisfaction.
Be cautions of trying to consume automation in one bite. Automation in the enterprise or large organization can be a large watermelon, covered in a coat of sharp governance spines, obfuscating accountability and validation. Do not automate a process that you do not fully understand, are not accountable for, or unable to validate!
Are you doing the same thing twice or more times? Have you identified waste or bottlenecks in your pipeline? Do you find yourself taking time to explain how to test, deploy, or validate new features? If yes, you may (not have) a good opportunity to automate.
Back to the question: "Is automation really needed for a healthy DevOps environment?"
YES, it is a key ingredient for a healthy DevOps mindset, if applied within the right context.