The Power of Automation

 

IT automation has always been one of the most important goal of IT managers to make their organization run efficiently. Automation simply ensures that all resources will be allocated according to business needs dynamically.

Hu wrote a post on HDS community where he talked about typical break down of IT budgets.

https://community.hds.com/community/innovation-center/hus-place/blog/2015/04/23/software-defined-infrastructure-enables-greater-innovation-in-it

 

ITSpending

I also found another diagram on Gartner`s IT metrics report that shows us organizations are spending %66 of their time and budget to just “run the business”

Gartner IT Metric Report

These two diagrams simply show us that in order to grow and transform our business we should focus on innovation and reduce time/money spending on operating. That’s obviously not an easy task to achieve and can only be possible if your infrastructure is flexible and adaptable for these changes.

Couple of years ago, it was a straightforward task for IT administrators to manage/operate less data, servers, and applications. But now, every single minute hundreds of terabytes of data are flowing from “things” to our systems. Since IoT concept will be an enabler to different domains including logistic, transportation, automotive, healthcare and smart cities, in the near future every single “thing” will be sensor attached and connected to the internet/cloud. Analysts expect that 50 to 100 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

IT administrators should handle not only this huge amount of data but also underlying components such as storage, network, servers, applications, hypervisors so on.

Unfortunately without having a true software-defined infrastructure approach, managing, maintaining or innovating could be impossible.

As my colleagues Paul Meehan and Paula Phipps mention, to design a software-defined infrastructure approach, we can use three A`s

Automation: 29% of IT time is spent on tedious tasks. 39% of IT outages are due to human error. Hitachi midrange VSP family eliminates tedious manual tasks, reduces errors and lets administrators focus on revenue-generating activities.

Access: Access more data and solve real-world problems

Abstraction: Provide more services faster with more flexibility to support a diverse set of applications.

Couple of years ago I was involved in a project. Customer was working for government and had very sensitive public IIS web sites. Development team was developing updates every two weeks and sending MSI update package to Operations team. This team was responsible to achieve following actions:

  • RDP to different DMZ servers. All servers were belong to different forests therefore they need to use different credential for each server.
  • Copy MSI package to servers, unzip it (No check if MSI damaged/working or not)
  • Call network team and ask them to disable pool member on Load Balancer
  • For each web site, stop IIS service, change webconfig file, install MSI (no check if its installed or not, no check on event viewer or log files)
  • Start IIS service
  • Call network team to revert back configuration
  • Connect another IIS web site….

Operation team was spending around one or two days to update all web servers in production.

But I think time was not the main problem. The main problem was human errors. According the researches, most of the storage, server or service outages are caused by human errors. For the above scenario, if operation guy changes wrong line in webconfig or network guy removes wrong pool member, production environment will have service outage.

However, as using a correct automation method, organizations can easily reduce these statistics and save more money/time.   Remember the first “A” – Automation.

Microsoft is investing in automating, enabling the use of different automation solutions such as PowerShell, System Center Orchestrator and Service Management Automation. These automation solutions can be used to automate not only Microsoft workloads but also cross-platform Linux workloads, Network and Storage solutions.

I believe PowerShell is one of the most important initiatives by Microsoft in recent years. It`s a scripting language with an easy syntax and developed for System administrators. Almost all of the new Microsoft products, on-premise or Azure based, have native Windows PowerShell support.

Orchestrator is the new version of Opalis, acquired by Microsoft in 2009. It`s a process automation solution and comes with System Center suite. If you are using Virtual Machine Manager or Operations Manager you already have an IT Process Automation solution as well. Simple dashboard, drag&drop workflow design. You can also use .NET Script activity to run PowerShell scripts in workflows.

And Service Management Automation built-on PowerShell workflows. It`s a web based process automation tool designed to work with Windows Azure Pack, local version of Microsoft Azure in your datacenter. It allows you to build SMA workflows to create, monitor, deploy and manage resources in your private cloud environment.

When it comes to Software-Defined Infrastructure and Automation, Hitachi offers a wide range of solutions.  The Hitachi midrange VSP family provides the foundation for software-defined infrastructures by making automation and abstraction easy with an integrated portfolio of infrastructure automation and virtualization software.

If you are using Hitachi`s converged solution, you already know that how it simplifies management of private cloud and data center environments. You can also combine Microsoft System Center / Windows Azure Pack suite with UCP and it enables an end-to-end Private Cloud platform with self-service / orchestration / automation capabilities.

http://www.hds.com/solutions/virtualization/microsoft-hyper-v/hitachi-ucp-for-microsoft/

This solution automates the management of servers, networking components and storage using UCP Director, System Center and Microsoft adaptors.

Hitachi integrates with Microsoft applications to create a unified automation/management solution for Microsoft environments.

These are the available adaptors provided by Hitachi:

  • Hitachi Infrastructure Adapter for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager
  • Hitachi Adapter for Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft System Center Orchestrator
  • Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft® SQL Server Remote BLOB Storage
  • Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft Windows PowerShell
  • Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft Volume ShadowCopy Service

Especially adapters for PowerShell and Orchestrator enables you to automate and orchestrate processes using together Hitachi and Microsoft solutions.

Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft Windows PowerShell allows Hitachi storage administrators to use PowerShell cmdlets on Hitachi storage systems. Using cmdlets, administrators can create scripts to automate complex tasks.

Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft Windows PowerShell

Using Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft System Center Orchestrator you can easily extend the capabilities of System Center Orchestrator.

Hitachi Storage Adapter for Microsoft System Center Orchestrator

This plug-in provides:

  • Storage management and Hitachi NAS (HNSA) support
  • Virtualized storage management
  • Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) management

Each activity uses built-in PowerShell processes to run on remote server and allows you to create workflows/Runbooks to automate complex tasks in your datacenter.

It`s really good to see how two different vendor come together and built a complete management and automation solution. One more time hats-off to Hitachi engineers. They created really valuable plugins and integrations with Microsoft/System Center suite. These adaptors combines the power of Hitachi performance, reliability and agility with the productivity of Microsoft solutions.

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