Tag Archives: Automation

Same company different focus, let me know about your API wants!

For over a year I have been focused on improving VMware Command Line Interfaces including PowerCLI, vCLI, vMA, ESXCLI & DCLI.  I have tried to stay close to what the users of VMware want from a command line interface and have been delivering this as part of our current offerings and future offerings, I have been working with some of the best development teams in the industry (I may be biased) and have enjoyed talking to customers who use my products to do a variety of awesome things.

Well, none of that changes yet! I mean I am still responsible for working with the command line tools so please keep the feedback coming.

 

imageI have however recently taken over a new role and focus at VMware, one which I am highly excited to work on and make a real impact.  Around a month ago I took over the responsibility for the vSphere API and the vCloud Suite API, SDKs and CLIs.  There is a lot going on here and obviously that does not mean I am responsible for every feature which has an API!  In this new role I will be helping drive VMware APIs forward, working with customers and partners to identify gaps in our API/SDK/CLIs, define new APIs/SDKs/CLIs and work with multiple products and services within VMware to drive a better experience for people who use VMware products for automation or customers/partners who develop against our APIs to provide integration or DevOps engineers who want to just automate the entire experience and provide a constant lifecycle for their business processes or products.

Talk to me

Hopefully those who I have spoken to before, be it on twitter or via phone call or email or even over a beer know that I am an approachable guy, I may not always be able to talk about timeframes or where we are headed with our products but I promise you I will certainly take your feedback and prioritize it to produce the most valuable product to you.  Please do feel free to let me know what you think about the VMware APIs/SDKs/CLIs, the good, the bad and the ugly!

I would appreciate your quick thoughts on our APIs and what you would like to see going forward from us, feel free to use the comments on this post to pass them along or contact me via the other means mentioned.

VMworld 2014 Orchestration, Automation & Optimization Panel

One of the highlights for VMworld 2014 in San Francisco this year for me was on the first day, I was asked by the vBrownbag team to sit on the “Opening Acts 2014 Orchestration, Automation, & Optimization Panel”, we had some great conversations and a few laughs along the way as well.  I have posted the video here for you to watch, also make sure you check out the complete list of Opening Act Panels from the vBrownbag Opening Acts feed here.

 

Automation Tip 7–Testing

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One of the great things about automation is the ability to achieve consistent results, same thing every time, but go careful. What happens for example if your automation task is incorrect, if it doesn’t achieve what you want it to do.

Guess what?

You will get the undesired result every time.  Or as I like to say, you will retrieve mass produced crap!

This is exactly why testing in automation is key, both functional and scale testing, what happens when you start working at a larger scale, do things still react in the same way, do you still get the desired results?

Sometimes testing will show areas where throttling mechanisms may need to be used, take for example the ability to create a virtual machine, when we automate this we may produce 10 virtual machines in the same timescale, maybe 100, 1000 or even more.  Does your hardware allow you to do this? How does the storage or the network or the IP management system manage working at this rate? Throttling may cause a slight delay in the process but it will certainly ensure everything is available for future workflows.

In summary, testing will help you be aware of your bottlenecks and stop mass produced crap!

More Automation tips

More tips from this series created by myself and Thomas Corfmat for a session at VMworld 2013 can be found below (updated as published), if you have a login for VMworld.com you can also watch the full session here.

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards

Automation Tip 3 – Its all about people

Automation Tip 4 – Select the right mix of people

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

Automation Tip 6 – Automate incrementally

Automation Tip 7 – Testing

Automation Tip 8 – Documentation

Automation Tip 9 – End to end automation

Automation Tip 10 – Follow the “Automation Triangle”

Automation Tip 6–Automate Incrementally

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I think the correct phase for this one is “Don’t try and boil the Ocean”, if you try and automate everything at once you will end up with a broken system and will ultimately fail.

Identify the areas that cause you the most pain at the moment, the tasks that take the most time or need the most people to currently work.  Once you have identified these areas take a look at the tasks that make up this process.   What part of the process is the biggest pain today, the one that is loosing you the most time and effecting service delivery? That’s a great place to start.

Once you have automated this area and showed the results that have been achieved by automation, only then move on to the next item that causes you pain. Following this iterative approach and over time you fill find that you have automated a good amount of your datacenter operations and over time the cost of automation will exceed the value.

More Automation tips

More tips from this series created by myself and Thomas Corfmat for a session at VMworld 2013 can be found below (updated as published), if you have a login for VMworld.com you can also watch the full session here.

 

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards

Automation Tip 3 – Its all about people

Automation Tip 4 – Select the right mix of people

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

Automation Tip 6 – Automate incrementally

Automation Tip 7 – Testing

Automation Tip 8 – Documentation

Automation Tip 9 – End to end automation

Automation Tip 10 – Follow the “Automation Triangle”

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

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The most important item in automation is the process, if the process is broken so will the automated process be, automation is not a magic wand that will suddenly fix any issues with processes you have at the moment.

Automating a task does however give you a good chance to review a process and think about if this is still the best way to achieve things, often processes are organically grown and are not reviewed, take this opportunity to draw out the process with the people involved, make it as simple as possible, do you still need 17 approvals?

Remember, some steps just can not be automated, make sure you identify these and look for a way in the future to resolve these, its not ideal but sometimes the only way to succeed is by automating most of the work and then processing the manual tasks at the end or in worst case half way through, in the past I have seen prompts to an operator or an email telling them what to do before clicking on a link to perform the rest of the automation task.

Sometimes there are tasks that simply can not be automated, these are far and few between but don’t worry, don’t try and jam them in to an automated process, move on and return later, think about how to mitigate this when looking at new software or SDDC solutions.

Simplify, it will save you time and it will make you automation tasks much easier to implement and debug later!

More Automation tips

More tips from this series created by myself and Thomas Corfmat for a session at VMworld 2013 can be found below (updated as published), if you have a login for VMworld.com you can also watch the full session here.

 

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards

Automation Tip 3 – Its all about people

Automation Tip 4 – Select the right mix of people

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

Automation Tip 6 – Automate incrementally

Automation Tip 7 – Testing

Automation Tip 8 – Documentation

Automation Tip 9 – End to end automation

Automation Tip 10 – Follow the “Automation Triangle”

Automation Tip 4–Select the right mix of people

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When automating, make sure you think about automating the solution end-to-end, as part of this you will need to talk to domain experts, the people with tribal knowledge and normally admin rights to the systems.  The people who know not only how the systems work in your environment but also have the specific process knowledge for that area.  These people will help you automate the task so much quicker and easier.  This will also go a long way to gaining their buy in for the task and the areas that will be handed off and covered by this automation process.

It helps if these people already know what you are trying to achieve and even more if they have previous knowledge on automation, scripting or development.  Creating a cross departmental or technology automation task force* will help with building relationships and pave the path for future automation projects.

*YMCA dance not necessary when forming automation task force!

 

More Automation tips

More tips from this series created by myself and Thomas Corfmat for a session at VMworld 2013 can be found below (updated as published), if you have a login for VMworld.com you can also watch the full session here.

 

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards

Automation Tip 3 – Its all about people

Automation Tip 4 – Select the right mix of people

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

Automation Tip 6 – Automate incrementally

Automation Tip 7 – Testing

Automation Tip 8 – Documentation

Automation Tip 9 – End to end automation

Automation Tip 10 – Follow the “Automation Triangle”

Automation Tip 3–Its all about people

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Remember, when automating its all about the people, you will be crossing boundaries, sometimes annoying people by accessing their systems and potentially removing some of the work they need to do in a manual process.  This is why its key to get a corporate sponsor or champion that fully backs what you are trying to do and agrees with your vision.  You will need their backup and help!

 

Tell people about what you want to do, educate the people who are involved in the current manual process, tell them about what will be changing, how it will be working and how they can help, often people can see the benefits of Automation and are keen to help achieve the goal, you will need their help.

 

You will be talking to many different teams in complex processes as you will want to automate tasks from end to end, this includes gaining access to systems you may not have access to at the moment, breaking down the silo-ed mentality that some teams have.  Storage admins will not let you touch their baby, equally networking staff who have named and cared for each of their switches will not want anyone having access but them!

 

This can be a challenge which requires help from the sponsor and also enthusiasm through education of the end goal.

 

 

More Automation tips

More tips from this series created by myself and Thomas Corfmat for a session at VMworld 2013 can be found below (updated as published), if you have a login for VMworld.com you can also watch the full session here.

 

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards

Automation Tip 3 – Its all about people

Automation Tip 4 – Select the right mix of people

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

Automation Tip 6 – Automate incrementally

Automation Tip 7 – Testing

Automation Tip 8 – Documentation

Automation Tip 9 – End to end automation

Automation Tip 10 – Follow the “Automation Triangle”

Automation Tip 2–Find your standards

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Often there are standardizations you can identify which will cover 90% of your needs, these could be templates, blueprints or workflows that you can provide and reuse over and over again.

 
If you don’t have these you will receive different requests from every consumer which require ongoing management, customization and troubleshooting removing from speed and cost of the automated deployment and undoing any of the great work you have put into an automated system.

 

Make sure you find the sweet-spot that delivers the right amount of flexibility but covers the internal needs of the consumers of your automation, this could be the consumers of applications or infrastructure alike.

 

More Automation tips

More tips from this series created by myself and Thomas Corfmat for a session at VMworld 2013 can be found below (updated as published), if you have a login for VMworld.com you can also watch the full session here.

 

Automation Tip 1 – Measure It!

Automation Tip 2 – Find your standards

Automation Tip 3 – Its all about people

Automation Tip 4 – Select the right mix of people

Automation Tip 5 – Simplify, Don’t automate a broken process

Automation Tip 6 – Automate incrementally

Automation Tip 7 – Testing

Automation Tip 8 – Documentation

Automation Tip 9 – End to end automation

Automation Tip 10 – Follow the “Automation Triangle”

Automation Tip 1–Measure It!

As part of the “Automating the SDDC, Where do I start?” Session which Thomas Corfmat and I presented at VMworld we wanted to give some general Automation tips which can be used as best practices and guidelines to make sure you are thinking about the right things when automating your systems, we have 10 of these in total which will be posted on this blog in 10 separate blog posts, so lets get going with number 1.

Continue reading Automation Tip 1–Measure It!