Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

Cloud Accelerates Need for Workload Automation

The automation of manual processes is becoming a larger focus of IT organizations as they look to provide users with more capabilities, Ben Rosenberg of Advanced System Concepts writes.

Industry Perspectives

October 14, 2011

5 Min Read
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Ben Rosenberg is president and founder of Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. and is an expert in enterprise-class IT automation and system utilization solutions.



Advanced Systems Concepts

As IT organizations continue to balance rising resource demands against data center space and budget constraints, they’re being forced to do more with less. To cope, the vast majority of IT departments are squeezing efficiencies out of existing infrastructure. To accomplish this, they’re betting heavily on consolidation, virtualization and new hardware to address increasing resource demand within the data center. While upgrading and virtualizing is all the rage, IT departments are still supporting legacy applications that continue to drive value and store critical data, leading to heterogeneous IT environments.

This consolidation means that the automation of manual processes is becoming a critical focus for IT organizations as they look to provide users with more capabilities, for example, around the provisioning of systems. As a result, job scheduling and workload automation solutions are moving to the center of integrating both IT and business application processes with the integration of newer virtualized systems. All the while supporting the goal of conserving resources, reducing costs and streamlining IT operations.

IT Transformation

Virtualization is transforming the way business runs IT. It allows IT departments to promote flexible utilization of IT resources, reduce capital and operating costs and allow for the higher availability of applications and systems. However, the virtualization of data centers is presenting a unique set of challenges around the transition and management of the virtual infrastructure while still leveraging legacy applications.

But virtualizing your data center isn’t enough. With virtualization comes virtual machine sprawl, in addition to workload migrations and the need to integrate legacy infrastructure with newer environments to create agile and cost effective data centers. It’s at this intersection of processes and technologies that job scheduling and workload automation solutions can assist in conquering the complexity inherent in today’s IT environments. In tomorrow’s data center, virtualization, automation and infrastructure integration represent an opportunity to reduce costs, streamline IT operations and offload some of the grunt work typically tackled by IT staffers.

The Move To A Virtualized, and Now Automated, Environment

The evolution of distributed computing environments signaled the need to coordinate different forms of job scheduling into a centralized and unique solution. This resulted in workload automation solutions, which has allowed for different forms of automation to converge toward an integrated and centralized solution. Cloud computing and virtualization bring about different forms of automation that, in turn, need to adopt a similar approach.

In many ways, on-demand provisioning and virtual infrastructure management has presented data centers with a myriad of challenges around the management and integration of virtual environments. Unless infrastructure-wide management is an integrated part of the private cloud delivery solution, the promise of lower costs with fewer manual interventions will remain elusive. IT automation solutions are key if companies are to optimize hands-free provisioning and administrating of virtual environments. The result is an IT department that is more responsive to business initiatives, streamlined operations, reduced costs and a more productive staff.

Cloud Impacts Demand

As a result, cloud computing and virtualization are accelerating the demand for automation. Running jobs on diverse machines requires resources. This resource allocation, based on finite physical capacity, is a key point of workload automation and job scheduling solutions. Often, many mission-critical, end-to-end workloads that span across both newer, virtualized systems and legacy applications aren’t processed in time for lack of capacity or performance limitations. This can have dire business consequences. The flexibility of virtual environments, whether confined within a physical server or developed as a private or public cloud, presents complexity challenges in which simple run book automation is no longer the solution. Bringing virtualization and the cloud into the automation equation is the most effective way to automatically allocate resources to workload processing where and when it’s needed.

As the centerpiece for integrating and orchestrating processes across complex, heterogeneous environments, workload automation solutions have become perfectly situated to assist companies in the transition from older, legacy technologies to virtualized environments. They serve as the automation engine to integrate applications and IT functions and allow IT operations staff to define and run sets of business processes between widely varied applications and technologies.

In addition to integrating legacy systems with newer technologies, workload automation solutions provide behavioral insight such as performance, availability and capacity factors that govern the execution of processes by analyzing service behaviors and then triggering the appropriate actions. Market leaders also provide integration with IT management solutions, thus allowing a user to leverage their enterprise monitoring solution to monitor the performance of mission-critical workflows and processes.

Workload automation vendors have recognized these developments and are now taking things a step further by marrying both predictive and reactive forms of resource management, provisioning and scheduling to transform the way virtual and cloud environments are managed and governed. This will allow enterprises to leverage historical processing information to proactively configure their public or private clouds minute – by – minute, an ever-changing, completely tailored environment.

By ensuring that systems will be rapidly and accurately provisioned and virtualized enterprises can leverage the cloud to rapidly provision its internal infrastructure for upcoming load increases, whenever needed. Cloud-based systems will positively affect their hosts in terms of utilization and power consumption. Since the customer pays only for what it uses, there is an even greater incentive to obtain incremental resources in real time – and to disengage when they are no longer needed.

In conclusion, today’s data centers and IT environment are at a tipping point, as the move towards virtualized and cloud computing environments will parallel the growth and importance that automation solutions will play in today’s distributed IT world. In particular, the ability to integrate existing infrastructure with newer technologies, all the while proactively provisioning virtualized and cloud systems on the fly via job scheduling and workload automation solutions will provide IT departments with the opportunity to reduce costs, streamline IT operations and increase productivity.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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