Automation–its not just a tick box!

During VMworld 2013 I presented together with Thomas Corfmat a session entitled “Automating the Software Defined Datacenter, How do I get started?” this was meant as a introduction on how someone who was interested in automation could start with VMware products and what they could achieve.

One of the first things we mentioned in this session is that there is no one size fits all, there isn’t one tick box that you can click and then suddenly “enable automation”, this is a common misconception by the C-Level staff of many organizations as they see automation in a slide deck and want some of it!  Automation is actually a combination of products, workflows and scripts created to give you the specific results you need.

What areas of Automation are there?

We wanted to give people an overview of automation as we see it, this may not be a complete list of automation areas but the below was an overview of automation areas that we had seen and spoken to VMware customers about.

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What products COULD you use?

After we put this together Thomas and I started to think about what VMware products could you use to automate these areas, as you know, there is never a one size fits all with automation, it can often depend on skill sets, operating systems, ease of use, licensing and other factors. What we wanted to do was first list all of the products that COULD be used to automate these areas.

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What products are recommended?

We then wanted to narrow this list down and think about what products are recommended, and by this we mean if we were starting fresh, which products have been created to solve a certain function or area of automation.  Remember if you use something different that’s fine, these are just guidelines for people starting out!

Some VMware products were written with various automation tasks in mind, if they have been pre-written to perform this task then that’s probably a good place to start.

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Conclusion

If you are already achieving automation then that’s great, keep going, automate all the tasks that can be, this will make your life easier and your business save money. Get rid of all the mundane tasks in your life and move onto bigger and better work.  If you are looking to start with automation then take a look at Thomas and my information in this post and find out more about the applications above, they will be a shortcut to achieve automation and will help make your life easier.

Keep an eye on this blog as next up I will show some automation tips from our session.

4 thoughts on “Automation–its not just a tick box!”

  1. Cool! In the “Availability” part, vC Ops 5.7.2 will not monitor the SLA of the Application running inside the Guest OS. For example, it won’t track the availability of a Service inside Windows 2008. With Hyperic, we can monitor the Performance of that Service, but not its Availability. Certainly, once Hyperic tracks the uptime of that Service, we can plot it in vC Ops 🙂

  2. Let me offer an perspective I think you might find useful. My view is that it is worth drawing a distinction between automation “solutions” and “toolboxes”. Scripting (e.g. PowerCLI) is an automation toolbox for the anti-scenario scenario. If you knew the scenario, you’d just code it and then it would be an automation solution. If you don’t know what the scenarios is, then you either leave the customer high and dry or you provide them a toolbox that they can craft their own solution (or the community can and they can get the script from them). The other issue is that it is often SUPER hard to get the scenario right. Customers come in all shapes and sizes and often like/need to do this their way. Often the scenarios we deliver don’t quite meet their needs. That is another place where a toolbox approach allows them to get exactly what they need with what you’ve given them. Lastly, often a solution requires integrating components that you don’t control or even know about. An automation toolbox solves that anti-scenario scenario as well.

    So from this perspective, you want to have 100% coverage for your automation toolbox (PowerCLI) so that your customers can always get what they need without waiting for the next release of the product. From there, you want to pick out the most common scenarios and deliver them as solutions. Your solutions should be extensible via scripting so that they can be part of the automation toolbox if/when they don’t meet your customers needs. In this regard, it is always wrong to think in terms of solution *vs* toolbox – it is always a solution *and* toolbox approach.

    That’s the way I think about things.

    Jeffrey Snover [MSFT]
    Distinguished Engineer and Lead Architect for Windows Server and System Center

    1. Thanks Jeffrey, always love reading (and learning) from a comment by you. I agree with you here, I see multiple different types of automation not just what you call solutions and toolboxes.

      This will actually be covered in part 2 of this post, at the moment im trying to work out how to best phrase the thoughts in my head onto paper… coming soon.

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