The Second Law of IT Automation


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In the early days of team software development, everyone worked on a common directory of source code—and struggled to avoid conflicting changes and premature feature release. This became completely unworkable as software became more complex and teams became bigger.

The development community discovered an excellent solution in version control. With version control, you can consume large numbers of changes and easily organize them into stages of development and releases. Here are some universal features and benefits of version control:

  1. Supply chain—Version control tells you who added an object and when. That makes everyone accountable for their changes and speeds troubleshooting.
  2. Changesets—Given where you are (a version) and where you want to be (another version), version control systems can compute the change required to get there. That eliminates the menial, error-prone labor required by manual change.
  3. Immutable versions—Versions are permanent—and lightweight, so there’s no need to purge them. The data you need is always on hand for auditing and reproduction.
  4. Branches—A version control system partitions content by lifecycle stage and purpose. That prevents rough drafts from leaking into production, eliminating a common source of error and risk. Branches also enable strong access control, eliminating the risk of inappropriate access to content.

Version control is universal in software development. Why not in IT operations? The complexity, and consequences of error, are just as great—perhaps greater.

So, we have:

rPath’s Second Law of Automation: Version control every artifact and every relationship that feeds into deployed software systems.

With version control, change at any level is no longer a problem—it’s simply data to organize, absorb, and promote through the lifecycle. The benefits of supply chain, changesets, immutable versions, and branches are just as useful in operations as they are in software development.

But how do you realize those benefits? In my next few posts, we’ll explore how rPath applies the first and second laws to real-life automation problems.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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