The Case for Infrastructure Automation

Today’s “always up, always on” work environments require quick access to resources.  Whether it’s to cover increased demand for existing services or for new business requests, IT is being asked to respond with near-instant provisioning. In order to support this requirement, manual service deployments, which can be error prone and time consuming, are being replaced with automated configuration deployment tools.

Let’s use a simple Web server deployment as an example. To get an Apache Web server running, you first need to make sure your server operating system is configured properly. If the OS is not current with the latest patches and configurations, time must be spent updating before proceeding with the Apache install. Then, you have to install patches and set up the configuration for the Web server. Finally, once everything is installed, you have to make sure it’s all being monitored and managed.

Today, it’s not uncommon for IT operations to bring up hundreds or even thousands of new services, only to reclaim them for another purpose a short time later. In this type of IT environment, manual deployments and configuration are next to impossible. Of course, there is scripting that can be used, but this is often dependent on the skill level of the individual admin and is difficult to maintain across the organization.

Deployment of IT resources needs to be on-demand to support real-time requests. To achieve this, everything needs to be automatically provisioned, deployed, monitored, and ready for production without having to have an admin access the server.

Thankfully, there are options available to help with the automation challenge. Tools such as Puppet and Chef provide the configuration frameworks needed to replace legacy processes with fully automated, repeatable, and maintainable deployments.

With automated configuration management, organizations can achieve the infrastructure agility required by the business. Operations can quickly scale web servers, applications, databases, and other complex services on request. Automation also comes with the added benefit of being able to maintain consistent standards across the entire organization.

One final note, infrastructure automation not only brings services online faster but it can also improve management operations by ensuring that every deployment is automatically registered and configured for monitoring. The trick being that your monitoring system must be able to support an automated infrastructure.

The last thing you want is for your infrastructure automation plans to be derailed by an operations platform that can’t keep pace with the dynamic changes.