Automation Vs Orchestration: Know the Differences

Automation is probably the most abused buzzword of the century so far. Database Automation has gained steam in recent years, but today's dynamic requirements has lead to the birth of a new methodology called Orchestration. What's the difference between the two? Let's take a closer look.

What is Database Automation?

Simply put, database automation is the use of unattended processes and self-updating procedures for administrative tasks in a database. When implemented properly, this reduces deployment errors, improves reliability, and increases the speed of implementing changes. 

There is another huge benefit of automating database procedures. It frees up staff that might otherwise be occupied updating code and performing other tasks, including patching, upgrading, failover, scaling, provisioning and recovery. More attention can then be given to development and innovation.

Automation basically allows you to standardize the process of database changes across the development, UAT, and production environments, and these changes can then be tested and certified before finally moving to production. In other words, automation can significantly improve your time to market.

Automation Vs Orchestration Blog - The Automated Deployment Pipeline (1)

Database Orchestration - Application Release Automation (ARA) 

ARA is the automation of numerous tasks that run at the same time in a way that minimizes production issues.  This includes the automated arrangement, coordination, and management of DevOps. Orchestration takes advantage of multiple automated tasks in order to seamlessly execute larger workflows. 

In a nutshell, the main purpose of orchestration is to streamline and optimize repeatable processes to ensure faster deployments, with reduced IT costs. There are 5 main steps to creating optimal Application Release Automation (ARA) pipeline. These steps involve the following:

1 - Packaging - This step basically involves the taking of a bunch of components and bundling them up together in a manageable and functional way. Packaging essentially creates the bill of materials for your deployment. It is your way of knowing exactly what you need to move from point A to point B. 

Packaging allows you to confirm that what you had at the source location is what ended up at the target location, which is crucial in ARA processes.

2 - Dependencies - When you are working on your release, you need to understand what other applications or components are involved for its success. This step sounds pretty logical and essential, but is still ignored by many organizations, something that leads to a wide range of issues down the line.

3 - Stakeholders - Defining the right stakeholders for each stage and making sure they are involved is another crucial part of ARA. Without proper role management, you are in danger of creating a chaotic ecosystem where its hard to hold people accountable for inaccurate or unauthorized intervention.

4 - Deployment - As the name suggests, this stage involves the deployment of the application code or update with minimal effort and human intervention. With ARA, companies can now deploy their critical applications without having to rely on the experts who designed and built the application.

5 - Compliance - Another often overlooked aspect is the variations in compliance guidelines in different geographical locations. Compliance management and monitoring is becoming a key aspect in today’s markets, something that cannot be achieved without proper documentation and monitoring. 

Automation Vs Orchestration Blog - Application Release Automation (ARA)

The end result is a complete pipeline that can be triggered seamlessly as per your requirements. ARA handles all the interactions with external systems such as testing, deployment, CI software like Jenkins, ticketing systems (JIRA), while presenting a holistic overview of the entire pipeline. 

Automation: The Foundation of Database Orchestration

The bottom line is that no Database orchestration can be complete without implementing a comprehensive automation solution in your DevOps ecosystem. 

Firstly, you will start seeing significantly faster time-to-market than with old non-automated systems. Secondly, you can also free up valuable time and resources previously wasted on release, version control, and security-related tasks. Development and innovation can once again become your priority.

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Additionally, business activity mechanisms can be introduced into your daily schedule. This transparency and visibility is extremely crucial in complex setups, as it helps you detect and pinpoint issues as soon as they arise for quick remediation and zero downtimes, which has become extremely crucial today.

To sum it up, proper automation and orchestration workflows are a must if you intend to have truly efficient development and production pipelines. 

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