Automation Key to Avoiding Cloud Silos

Arthur Cole

Arthur Cole spoke with Colin Beastly, product marketing manager, Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.

Enterprise automation was challenging enough in the pre-virtual days. But now that both virtualization and the cloud are pushing distributed architectures to new extremes, automation software is being challenged to maintain smooth data operations across increasingly complex terrain. According to developers like Advanced Systems Concepts, however, the solution is not to diversify automation across multiple environments, but to unite them under an over-arching management scheme. Doing so not only streamlines and simplifies automation processes, but it prevents silos on the cloud, which can be just as disruptive to data operations as the hardware/software silos of old. The company's Colin Beastly explains.

Cole: Enterprises seem to be trying to please two masters these days as they seek greater automation even as infrastructure becomes more distributed and data platforms become more diverse. Are there ways in which they can accommodate both needs?

Beastly: As IT environments have become increasingly complex and distributed, IT organizations are being forced to coordinate processes that span a multitude of systems that were never designed to work together. As IT environments become increasingly distributed, you’re building boundaries, or silos of automation that prevent IT from automating critical, but also resource-consuming, processes to save time and money. You add the fact that IT organizations need to operate faster and with more agility because business operates in a real-time, 24/7 world, and the ability to pass data and manage the complex interdependencies between the various components that comprise a distributed environment means moving beyond custom scripting and platform-specific scheduling solutions. To get the best of both worlds, enterprises require a single, enterprise automation solution that overcomes these boundaries to allow IT to easily build, deploy and maintain these complex workflows and processes.

Cole: The new ActiveBatch 9.0 workload automation and job scheduling system now reaches into the cloud. Are the challenges of cloud-based operations different for process and service automation than for, say, infrastructure or resource management?

Beastly: Yes, they can be. Cloud automation provides the ability to match workload demand with supply in a “pay for what you consume” model. The challenge for IT process automation is dynamic workload and resource management; for example, the ability to forecast an increase or spike in workloads and proactively provision virtual and cloud-based resources in advance of that spike occurring. The benefit, in addition to ensuring resources are allocated for the successful completion of workflows, is resource optimization and cost savings by allowing your automation solution to automatically throttle resources up for a workload increase and then throttle them back to reduce costs and free those resources for use elsewhere. It allows virtual and cloud resources to be managed with “just in time” provisioning.

Cole: Is there a danger, though, that too much automation will allow business units and even individuals to continuously spin up new cloud systems and simply increase the burden on those automation systems? Is there a critical mass point at which the automation stack will fail?

Beastly: That danger can exist, but the key to preventing that problem ties back to the answer of the first question: the ability for IT organizations to consolidate multiple scheduling solutions into a single, enterprise-wide automation platform. Doing so means a central point of control for tying the automation of processes throughout the enterprise with resource management and provisioning, whether that be physical, virtual or cloud. In addition, by consolidating multiple automation solutions into one, you’re providing IT with the ability to better manage, via compliance and control, the provisioning and use of resources across the enterprise — a single point of control for setting limits and permissions on which business units or individuals are allowed to execute certain workloads, provision resources, etc.

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