No Cloud Without Automation

Arthur Cole

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This week, Mike Vizard at our CTO Edge site asks some key questions on the role of automation in the cloud.

He notes that companies like CA, which have made healthy livings providing automation tools and services for the data center, are rushing to extend those capabilities to the cloud. The problem is, in such a fluid environment, it's not entirely clear that today's cutting edge will be capable of meeting tomorrow's needs.

And that means automation technology will have to change. But how?

CA itself is pursuing a number of different tracks at the moment, not the least of which is key acquisitions like Nimsoft, which specializes in cloud-based monitoring systems. But it is also adopting a number of platform-specific approaches, such as the newly added support for Sun's Solaris Zones platform in CA's Service Assurance and Business-Driven Automation system. The idea is that by providing hooks into the basic virtualization layer, those tools will be at the ready when clients want to extend their reach into the cloud.

That might be easier said than done, however. One problem is the sheer scope of cloud scalability. It's one thing to develop policies and system relationships for a few hundred or even a few thousand virtual images or devices. But if cloud infrastructure takes off the way many expect it to, and you start to factor in all of the mobile applications that could take advantage of it, enterprise managers at large organizations could soon find themselves dealing with millions of rapidly changing configurations in a single day.

A company called LineSider Technologies is targeting that scenario with its new OverDrive Virtual Cloud Orchestration Manager (vCom) system. As the company describes it, vCom converts existing policy and management directives into a syntax that can be automatically rewritten as device-level configurations. By doing away with pre-written configuration templates, scripting tools or command line sessions, vCom can dynamically configure and reconfigure resources on an extreme scale.

Still, as most early cloud adopters have found out, one of the chief impediments to getting started is mapping out the resource settings between the brick-and-mortar enterprise and the cloud provider. But as CTO Edge pointed out earlier this month, cloud providers like Skytap are eager for solutions that simplify this process. The company has devised its own automated discovery scheme based on the REST interface that gathers information about client infrastructure that can then be used to create customized management tools. Users can either recreate their own network settings on the cloud or develop their own automated processes for deploying new resources. Either way, customers retain control of their network configurations and can optimize the cloud to their particular needs.

These approaches are just the opening salvo in what is likely to be a very active area of development for years to come. The sheer scope of the cloud and its highly fluid nature make manual configuration all but impossible.

If the cloud industry has any chance at all of succeeding past the initial deployment phase, it will have to integrate automation as a base-level function.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 16, 2010 2:33 PM Gabby Gabby  says:

This company covers the Management of Critical Situation using Run-book Automation concept from Physical, Virtual & Cloud by Automation the entire resolution process. it offers a Free Trial Version you may be able to quickly evaluate it for your IT & Business needs.

Mar 16, 2010 3:26 PM David David  says:

This article speaks mainly of the infrastructure automation. Once in the cloud, managing the APPLICATION deployments, maintenance, recovery, and rollbacks becomes a challenge. Companies like Nolio (http://www.noliosoft.com) provide an application-centric solution for application service automation. Check out http://www.nomorescripts.com for a free Express edition.

Mar 23, 2010 11:27 AM Jonathan Price Jonathan Price  says:

CA is taking both evolutionary and revolutionary approaches to help our customers benefit from the cloud computing model and the agility it provides to support their business strategies.  Existing solutions like Spectrum Automation Manager today offer unified and automated physical, virtual and cloud provisioning.  CA is also investing for tomorrow's needs, an example of which is the 3Tera acquisition which offers a revolutionary approach to abstraction, to make existing and new composite applications ready for dynamic, elastic delivery.  Expect to see lots more news from CA on Cloud Computing.  Visit www.ca.com/cloud to see the latest news.

Dec 16, 2010 11:19 AM John John  says:

Interesting post. thought you may find the following of value as well: IT DATA CENTER FORECAST: CLOUDY WITH A SERIOUS CHANCE OF FAILURE



Jun 29, 2011 2:42 PM panel pc panel pc  says:

Automation is the root of everything which is going on these days.I really appreciate automation industry for all the success it has got till date.


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