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How to Get Rid of Boring, Repetitive DevOps tasks with SAP Cloud Platform Automation Pilot?

In a Nutshell

You need to remember a couple of things:

  1. SAP Cloud Platform Automation Pilot is a brand new service, which helps you automate different DevOps tasks within your solution.
  2. The service is working next to SAP Cloud Platform – this allows you to execute and automate different tasks on both Neo and Cloud Foundry environment.
  3. To achieve this automation, Automation Pilot provides you with catalogues of pre-defined Commands – which help you vastly by eliminating the need for you to code simple DevOps tasks like – restarts, updates, alert remediations and many more.
  4. On top of that – the service exposes an easy way to introduce your own commands, without any coding. Or it can also run different scripts for you if you already have some in place.
  5. Automation Pilot is integrated with SAP Cloud Platform Alert Notification service – this enables you to achieve automatic alert remediation of your solution.
  6. Automation Pilot can be consumed as any other service on SAP Cloud Platform via the Cockpit.
  7. This is the official help page for the service, where you can read more.

In Detail

What problem does SAP Cloud Platform Automation Pilot solve?

If you think about it, every cloud solution is different. We sometimes use just a couple of services, which we integrate with a simple HTML5 application and then connect this with our on-premise solutions. In other cases, we decide to develop a microservice-based application which is a full-blown cloud-native solution. Sometimes we decide to use HANA and build complex applications on top, in other cases we want something simple and fast.

No matter what is the purpose of our solution, once it is a life we should ensure a couple of things (I don’t guarantee, that this is the full list):

  1. Be reliable.
  2. Be always on.
  3. Scale during moments of a big load.
  4. Be secure

To achieve those we use DevOps – which, depending on who you ask is: tools, processes, people, etc. From my perspective, DevOps is a mindset. The mindset to delegate to computers the things that they are good at – automation, and concentrate the things that you are good at – analytical problem-solving. This helps us to keep our solution up and running and in addition to get some sleep.

To achieve all of those above we mostly need two things – skills and tools. I can help with the second one.

This is where SAP Cloud Platform Automation Pilot comes into place. It provides you with two major things:

  1. A catalogue of automation content on top of SAP Cloud Platform – this enables you to automate a lot of things without having the domain-specific knowledge for different SAP CP services.
  2. A powerful, super-fast and scalable execution engine, which allows you to execute tons of operations in parallel

How does it solve those problems?

To know the basics of Automation Pilot, we should get familiar with the concept of a Command

A command represents something that can be executed. It requires a set of values when it is started and produces a set of values when it completes.

A command describes how a procedure is executed. Every command has a set of input keys it receives values for when started and a set of output keys that it produces values for when completed. Commands are composed of other commands that have a specific order. Thus, the execution of a command is the process of all the commands being triggered and executed.

We organize the commands into Catalogues, also you can produce your very own catalogues and commands, as well.

Automation Pilott provides you with both very low-level commands such as HTTP Operations (calling a REST API) or executing an already existing script. It also provides you with much more complex commands such as – Updating your database or restarting you CF application stack.

You can use those commands as they are or develop existing ones by re-using the already provided ones.

What actually can I automate with it and where it works?

Our main purpose is to provide you with DevOps automation content on SAP Cloud Platform regardless of the environment (Neo, CF, etc.). Feel free to experiment with Automation Pilot, you can call basically everything that exposes a REST API with it or execute the automation scripts that you already have written.

Below you can find a couple of specific scenarios

Automatic Alert Remediation

Imagine that you are having trouble with one of your deployments – let’s say one of your HTTP endpoints responds with inappropriate code and you are pretty sure that the only way to fix your system is by restarting it. Should you wait for this to happen? No. Automation Pilot is tightly integrated with SAP Cloud Platform Alert Notification, thus what you can do is simply configure Automation Pilot to work with Alert Notification then every time you receive a specific event happens, Automation Pilot can configure a specific command for you, thus achieve full automation of alert remediations.

Configuration and Update of your Solution

Imagine that you want to change some configuration on multiple nodes of your solution? Or you want to regularly update it – this is possible with SAP Cloud Platform Automation Pilot.

Hook-up to different services

This is something that we are working on and is not there yet, but here’s the idea. Very often after deployment, we might want to change the log severity from ERROR to INFO just for 5 minutes to check if everything is fine. Or you might want to execute some checks after the transport of a change. We are working towards the integration with different SAP CP services as Transport Management and Deployment Service.

Expect a dedicated series of blog posts covering different scenarios and interesting use cases.

How I can start using it?

Currently, the Automation Pilot is in customer beta, this means that it is absolutely free. Although it currently resides only on US30 region of Cloud Foundry environment the service can be used virtually on every landscape of the Cloud Platform, once you subscribe for it. Checkout the help page for further information.

What should I do next?

  1. Subscribe for the service.
  2. Give us feedback and tell us what you need.
  3. Expect more news and exciting stuff around the SAP Cloud Platform Automation Pilot
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