The Data Center Automation Challenge

Michael Vizard

While there's no doubt that there is a corresponding rise and interest in data center automation that is being driven largely by the advent of virtualization and cloud computing, there is sadly not much actual progress being made in terms of actual standards for IT automation.

That's what makes the alliance announced this week between Eucalyptus Systems, a provider of management tools for private cloud computing environments, and Puppet Labs, a provider of open source tools that automate many of the routine tasks associated with managing servers, worth noting.

According to David Butler, a Eucalyptus senior vice president, in the absence of any widely accepted data center automation standards, progress in this area is most often going to come in the form of vendor alliances around open application programming interfaces (APIs). The issue that IT organizations need to pay attention to when selecting an IT automation technology, says Butler, is to make sure the environment is open because no one can be sure what applications and systems will need to be integrated into that environment in the future.

In the meantime, IT organizations continue to wrestle with both virtual and physical server growth. Many of them have created their own scripting tools and workflow engines, but as the overall data center environment continues to grow, they are discovering that these custom tools will no longer scale to meet their needs.

The end result is a pressing need for data center automation tools. But in the rush to acquire those tools, IT organizations would be well-advised to standardize around tools that offer the most extensible approach possible because, after all, no one really knows what might be coming through the data center door next.

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