IT Automation Goes Open Source

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Just about every IT organization is familiar with the concept of IT automation to one degree or another; they usually just don't have enough money in the budget to fund the acquisition of an IT process automation toolset. As a result, many of them make due with custom scripts they develop themselves, which usually don't scale and are not particularly well documented.

Now, however, there's no excuse for not having a commercial-grade IT process automation tool in your IT arsenal. EMC and Puppet Labs at the EMC World 2012 conference this week announced they are making Razor, a tool they jointly developed to automate the provisioning of physical hardware, available as an open source project.

According to Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies, Razor is designed to allow IT organizations to use a modeling tool that can programmatically provision hardware using real-time inventory data that Razor automatically discovers about the IT environment.

Dan Hushon, from the office of the CTO at EMC, says that EMC worked with Puppet Labs to create Razor because there is no business value in setting up computers. Doing it manually is not only slow, it creates the probability that more errors are going to be made that could affect everything from performance to security. Hushon says that EMC chose to work with Puppet Labs on this project because it was one of the few partners it could find with open source IT automation experience that spans multiple platforms.

As an open source tool, IT organizations are also free to extend Razor using RESTful application programming interfaces in any way they see fit, or leverage extensions to Razor that will be created by the open source community that springs up around it.

Beyond simply saving money, that latter ability may prove to be the most interesting thing about an open source razor project. It's pretty clear that IT teams have similar IT management problems. If they don't start looking out for each other, who will?