As a Rackspace Cloud Servers customer, you are already aware of the tremendous gain in speed and agility that a cloud-based infrastructure can provide. Provisioning a new server in the cloud takes just minutes. This speed, combined with the pay-as-you-go model, makes it possible to quickly deploy a complete infrastructure. The use cases are endless, from software development and testing to 3D rendering farms and genomic research.
Unfortunately, most organizations won't be able to benefit from these promises. They can indeed deploy a new server in minutes, but will then spend hours manually installing and configuring their business applications and their dependencies. These ad-hoc processes are often poorly documented; so that when it is time to re-deploy, no one knows for sure what the configurations should be. With computing resources becoming a commodity, the new bottleneck is now in the manual operations required to move from raw resources to business ready services.
To reap the benefit of the cloud, organizations must put in place operational processes that match the speed of the infrastructure delivery. New tools are required to automate these tasks. It is therefore not a surprise to see that in its Top Predictions for IT Organizations, Gartner claims that “By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25 percent of labor hours associated with IT services.”
Three challenges of cloud operations
1. Get provisioning under control
The simplest way to create your own server image is to start from an existing one, modify it manually to match your requirements and create a new server image from its snapshot. Besides the manual effort, this process often leads to lack of documentation and potentially a maintenance headache when these images have to be updated to match changes in configuration.
2. Centralize configuration management
One of the most important daily activities of system administrators is the management of server configurations (updating packages, users and access rights management, application configurations, etc.). With a growing number of hosts, it becomes easy to lose track of configuration changes, leading to costly configuration errors and lack of proper documentation.
Centralized configuration management will reduce human errors through automation, improve your documentation and provide auditing of taken actions. In addition, the best tools provide you with compliance features and alert you when a server configuration deviates from its required state.
3. Orchestrate complex workflows
Scaling an infrastructure, deploying a new service and implementing disaster recovery are all examples of tasks that go way beyond the simple provisioning of a new host or a change in configuration. These orchestrations require many actions to be taken at different levels of the infrastructure. They are the hardest processes to automate, but also the ones where human errors can have the most disastrous impacts. Thanks to the API exposed by cloud providers, and using the right tools, it is possible to automate these tasks as well.
ComodIT – IT Automation as a Service
ComodIT is an IT Automation platform that is geared for the cloud and available as a service. It integrates all key automation processes discussed above in a simple to use web interface. It also provides enterprise features such as identity management, access control and auditing.
Using ComodIT, you can get your provisioning under control across many public and private cloud platforms, centralize your configuration management, track compliance and orchestrate complex scenarios using a simple API.
Both the integration within a single tool and this level of automation will reduce your manual effort and eradicate human errors, ensure repeatability, improve your process quality and your flexibility by making it easier to move from one platform to another. In addition, ComodIT offers a growing catalog of application templates through its applications marketplace. This makes it easy to quickly deploy hosts with your choice of applications and manage their configurations from the web, using tested automated processes.