Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Oct 22 2010   1:59PM GMT

Automation and the Four Phases of Data Center Virtualization

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

You’re not going to wake up one morning and discover you’re in the private cloud. Just as there required planning to create your current infrastructure, there are certain steps you need to take before changing it. This year at Interop New York, the focus on the private cloud starts first with virtualization, and the key to getting the most out of virtualization is automation.

This method of managing provisioning and configuration involves codifying something that you’re currently doing manually. This will require different tools and levels of management as your infrastructure evolves.

Automation by Phase

  • Server consolidation: Start off simple, utilizing scripts you’ve probably compiled on your own to simplify the manual processes. At this stage, vendor tools will be deployed to share these shortcuts across the enterprise.
  • Infrastructure optimization: Support begins to expand beyond single vendors, and capacity management becomes an issue. Automation takes on the responsibility of patching and managing configuration.
  • Automation & Orchestration: Another level of maturity in your virtualization strategy means adding provisioning, configuration standardization, compliance, running processes, application deployment, and self-service (or private cloud-like services) to the automated mix.
  • Dynamic Data Center: Whether or not this means deploying a private cloud, reaching this level of maturity in your strategy heightens your application portability and calls for SLA-accompanied automation.

Not so fast

Bottom line is, if your application is faulty in the traditional model, it will be faulty in the young and hip model. There are opportunities to ease yourself into the water, however, to make sure that the applications you’re choosing to deploy atop a new infrastructure are the right ones. Rackspace’s recent OpenStack – their open source offering of their very own code – allows you to integrate the code you’d be utilizing in the cloud in your very own infrastructure. Not only can you get comfortable in your comfort zone, running the code in front of the eyes of your own team members before sending your babies out into the cloud, but you can monitor how your applications will run in that environment.

As with all technology that promises to deliver ease-of-use, there are many ways automation can go wrong. Before implementation, ensure each instance has been tested and that there are periodic checks in place once deployed.

Though the conversation at events such as Interop is dominated by cloud, there are specific and real-time practices that you can begin implementing today to prepare yourself for the somewhat cloudy future.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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  • AlexEvolven
    Melanie, Thanks for the great post. Yes. This is a problem. We see companies who think that injecting processes with automation means they can just sit back and relax. Nothing can be further from the truth. There are some popular myths about virtualization. One of those myths is that in the virtual world configuration management is just not important. This assumption comes from the belief that with virtualization you can easily "undo changes" and just rollback the virtual environment to snapshot images of the environment. The reality is that the automation of Change and Configuration management is crucial for virtualization and the private cloud. I invite you and your readers to check out: [A href="http://www.evolven.com/blog/5-reasons-why-virtualization-could-turn-into-a-nightmare-without-configuration-management.html"]5 Reasons Why Virtualization Could Turn into a Nightmare Without Configuration Management[/A] and [A href="http://www.evolven.com/webinar-change-ema.html"]A recent webinar we hosted with experts from Evolven and EMA: Learn How to Drive Change While Remaining in Control[/A] Best, Alex Gutman Technology Evangelist Evolven Software, Inc. alexg@evolven.com [A href="http://www.evolven.com"]http://www.evolven.com[/A]
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