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Understanding the World of Cloud Automation

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The modern data center is getting a lot smarter. We’ve got better systems, more optimally controlled resources, and the end-user experience is continuously improving. But there’s a lot more intelligence being built into your cloud platform than ever before. The sheer number of new users and workloads accessing the cloud has forced data centers and various organizations to adopt new, powerful, methods to delivery rich content.

With that in mind, cloud and data center automation have helped shape how we provision resources and control workloads. The important note here is that just like any other piece of technology, the world of cloud automation continues to evolve. Here are several examples:

Automating your next-generation cloud. The next-generation cloud environment happens to be very diverse. Now, compliance and regulations are opening up a bit to allow for more workloads to reside on a cloud system. Many automation tools now place governance and advanced policy control directly into their product. Technologies like RightScale allow cloud admins to control security aspects of their cloud, and gain quite a bit of visibility. Aside from being able to control costs around resource utilization, this type of platform creates a very dynamic automated cloud platform. Scaling, orchestration, and even multi-cloud controls are all built in. Here’s the cool part: your cloud automation platform now becomes proactive as well. In working with automation and analytics, you’re able to visualize and forecast requirements for your cloud infrastructure.

How end-point and workspace delivery play a role in automation. The end-point compute model is evolving. Organizations like Google are delivering Chromebooks which are lightweight, browser-enabled, platforms that act as gateways to the cloud. The idea is to centralize and deliver complex workloads through non-complex means. These workloads now include entire desktops as well as virtual applications. DaaS models and virtual application delivery can be great tools to empower your end-user, but how can you automate the entire process? The good news is that automation platforms are certainly catching up, if not there already. You can deploy your own infrastructure within Amazon AWS, and then manage the entire platform with an intelligent, automated, system from Eucalyptus. Or, you can deploy VMware’s DaaS model while managing that environment through their vCloud Automation Center. The point is that there are now very diverse and feature-rich automation tools designed for cloud workloads and a variety of delivery models.

Spanning automation between data centers and cloud models. The cloud is becoming a system of logical interconnects where are variety of data points can now communicate. This means that traditionally isolated cloud models can now share resources and information. The goal is a powerful cloud infrastructure which can be controlled and automated regardless of the underlying platform. Technologies like Puppet Labs aim to do just that. The idea is to create a unified management and automation approach to very heterogeneous environments. Puppet is capable of controlling environments – cloud, virtual, and physical – and allows you to automate the management of compute, storage, and network resources. The cool factor is that you can be using a VMware platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack, Eucalyptus, Amazon, or even your own bare metal data center. Above it all would sit this IaaS automation platform, helping you control and better manage your entire ecosystem.

A look at the future of cloud and data center automation. As the cloud platform evolves, there will be even more initiatives to unify a variety of functions within the data center. One emerging trend and conversation point are robotics in the data center. The concept of a “lights-out” robot-drive data center takes the idea of automation to the ultimate level. We’re not quite there yet, but the future automation model will certainly begin to involve automated mechanics located within a data center. Another emerging trends is the abstraction and automation of the entire data center. The data center operating system aims to control everything from the chip to the cooler. Moving forward, these types of proactive data center systems wills strive to create an easier-to-control infrastructure model.

Your cloud and data center model will only continue to evolve. There is an increased level of interconnectivity happening within the organization where entire platforms are becoming truly distributed. Your users are demanding more, your applications are becoming more critical, and your delivery model must keep pace with the industry.

Since resources are still a critical piece of the cloud equation, controlling the delivery of data and resources must be a priority. This is especially the case since most new technologies are now born and live within the data center. So, as you build out your cloud platform, make sure to make the process as intelligent as possible, and build in automation wherever it makes sense.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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