As IT continues to be increasingly complex to manage, more organizations are looking to automate as many management functions as possible. The challenge is that many of them don’t have the budget to do anything more than write a handful of scripts themselves.
Moving to take that issue off the table, StackStorm today at the OpenStack Paris 2014 conference unveiled a namesake IT automation platform that is available as open source software.
StackStorm CEO Evan Powell says that StackStorm 0.5 takes open source automation up a few notches because it provides a mechanism for not only applying rules, but also listening for IT events. Those events can be used to discover IT operational patterns that generate metadata about the performance attributes of those workflows. StackStorm then acts like an integration layer, creating an automation library that makes that information available via an application programming interface (API).
IT organizations can then access that data via a user interface to audit the environment and manage access controls, or developers can programmatically control the IT environment by invoking the StackStorm APIs directly or by using a software development kit created using the Python programming language.
Rather than simply providing IT organizations with an engine that they have to then develop applications on top of in order to automate a task, Powell says StackStorm provides a way to more cohesively and simply automate workflows across the IT environment. Most IT environments, says Powell, are either directly supported or can be incorporated using Apache Libcloud, a library written in Python that can be used to invoke multiple cloud computing APIs.
Powell says StackStorm is not trying to replace existing IT automation engines as much as make them more powerful and accessible. It’s difficult to automate an environment that an IT organization doesn’t have much visibility into in the first place. And once the patterns of that IT environment are understood, making it easier to program that environment can still be a challenge.
Given the amount of complexity in IT environments today, there is no doubt that increased automation is not only necessary, it’s all but inevitable. The real issue is finding a way to actually make embracing IT automation simpler, but in a way that doesn’t necessarily break the IT budget.