Click here to close now.

Welcome!

DevOps Journal Authors: Mike Kavis, Ed Featherston, John Wetherill, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

Automation: More than saving keystrokes

It wasn’t that long ago that networking talk was all about the cost of equipment. With CapEx as the primary pain point, everyone was talking about merchant vs. custom silicon, with the primary argument being that a move to common components would provide margin relief in what has to be the most margin-sensitive industry in tech.

Now, with the whole world seemingly converged on a narrow set of silicon (congratulations, Broadcom), the conversation has been shifting. It started with a subtle expansion of the cost argument to include more than just CapEx. OpEx has always been around, but it is getting more play of late in marketing circles. And the OpEx argument itself is becoming more fully fleshed out. Where companies used to tout the easily measured stuff like rack space, power, and cooling, increasingly the discussion floats over into the more operational aspects of managing a network.

We are at the point now that automation is the new god to which we all must pay homage. But are we tossing around the automation word a little loosely?

First off, we should all be clear about something: automation is not about saving keystrokes. Sure, as a result of a highly-automated, well-orchestrated infrastructure, you might in fact put fingers to keyboard a little less frequently. But automation ought not be done with the sole objective of typing less.

The problem here is that the things that people best understand how to automate are relatively simple tasks that are annoying to execute. Typing in the same command 27 thousand times appears to be the ideal candidate for automation. And in response, some hacker in the organization figures out how to replace the command with a small shell script or equivalent. What used to take 13 minutes to execute now takes somewhere on the order of 7 seconds. Multiplied by the 27 thousand instances in a typical year, the time savings is both quantifiable and quite attractive. “We should do more of that!” proclaims the CIO.

And off the team goes to identify more of these commands.

But there aren’t that many commands that are repeated ubiquitously, uniformly, and in enough volume to really make a difference to the bottom line. Once you retire a couple of heavy hitters, eking out continual OpEx savings by “automating all the things” becomes harder and harder. Why?

This form of automation preys on the repeatably identical task. When something is done the exact same way every single time, regardless of context (either situation or environment), it is well-suited for being replaced with an easier-to-execute task. But as soon as the task requires some cognitive input from the operator (knowing when, where, or how to do something), this type of automation is far less powerful.

It is tempting to attribute this only to things that are shell scriptable, but the world of automation includes way more. We all know companies that are still managing infrastructure with expect scripts. When we bring up this type automation, whoever is speaking almost always oozes a little bit of derision, because we all know that this type of thing is primitive.

But is combing output for fields really that different from applying templates to configuration?

When you provision devices based on some template, you are really just pattern matching (isn’t that what expect does?) and then applying some formulaic logic. But somehow if you can sprinkle in the phrase DevOps or toss around one of the sexy provisioning tools (Chef, Puppet, Salt, or if you are particularly in the know, maybe Ansible), it seems a whole lot more substantial, doesn’t it?

My point here is not to put down the DevOps tools. Instead, I want to point out that how these tools are used is important. If you view tools like Chef or Ansible as a means of cutting out keystrokes (read: pushing config), then you are likely missing the point of automation.

What these types of tools are really trying to do is much more profound. The power goes well beyond putting an agent on a device and then pumping that device full of config. What these tools are doing is allowing you to create logic (some of it more sophisticated than others) to make intelligent decisions about how to provision a device.

For example, a switch might behave differently depending on what is attached to it. We all know about the role of edge policy (VLANs, ACLs, QOS, and so on) as it relates to managing traffic on the network. So if a top-of-rack switch is attached to one type of device (or VM or application), you might want one behavior, and if it is something else, maybe you want a different type of behavior. It is not just the configuration; it is the right configuration based on the particular context.

This combination of context and intelligence is what makes automation powerful. And the more context that is available and actionable, the more fancy you can get with the automation.

This means that whatever automation framework you are using (anything from shell script to full DevOps environment) must be capable of both performing an action, and pulling in information to establish context for that action. We are quite focused on the first part, but the context is what will make automation more or less powerful. The act of executing a sequence of activities is interesting, but having logic to determine what to do is paradigm-changing.

Put differently, if your automation infrastructure is only capable of making left turns regardless of what is happening on the roads, no matter how elegant or fast the turns, you will still end up going in circles.

[Today’s fun fact: Babies are born without knee caps. They don’t appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age. Creepy.]

The post Automation: More than saving keystrokes appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@DevOpsSummit Stories
It's 2:15pm on a Friday, and I'm sitting in the keynote hall at PyCon 2013 fidgeting through a succession of lightning talks that have very little relevance to my life. Topics like "Python code coverage techniques" (ho-hum) and "Controlling Christmas lights with Python” (yawn - I wonder if there's anything new on Hacker News)...when Solomon Hykes takes the stage, unveils Docker, and the world shifts. If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch the video of Solomon's Pycon The Future of Linux Containers talk that spurred a revolution. It's short, but definitely worth the five minutes. Right a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
WSM International has launched a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of the organization. According to a recent press release from Gartner, "By 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche strategy employed by large cloud providers to a mainstream strategy employed by 25 percent of Global 2000 organizations."
SYS-CON Events announced today that WSM International (WSM), the world’s leading cloud and server migration services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. WSM is a solutions integrator with a core focus on cloud and server migration, transformation and DevOps services.
Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), and search analytics (SSA). We also provide Search and Big Data consulting services and offer 24/7 production support for Solr and Elasticsearch.
The speed of software changes in growing and large scale rapid-paced DevOps environments presents a challenge for continuous testing. Many organizations struggle to get this right. Practices that work for small scale continuous testing may not be sufficient as the requirements grow. In his session at DevOps Summit, Marc Hornbeek, Sr. Solutions Architect of DevOps continuous test solutions at Spirent Communications, will explain the best practices of continuous testing at high scale, which is relevant to small scale DevOps, and if there is an expectation of growth as the number of build targe...
DevOps is all the rage these days and with good reason as it promises to reduce the time-to-market for new applications. It also promises to improve change management, allowing teams to deploy changes to their applications quickly and efficiently. However, DevOps isn’t something you buy, install, or implement; rather it is the symptom of an appropriate organizational system. In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Thiele, EVP, Data Center Technologies at SUPERNAP International, will discuss how to get to the right organizational model that will allow DevOps practices to flourish.
DevOps is a hot topic. It seems that everyone is talking about it. Some have built business models around DevOps-related tools and themes. There are conferences and trade shows dedicated to DevOps-strategies and techniques. Some people have even made their careers around talking about it. In light of all of that, I find it chuckle-worthy that very few people actually know what DevOps is (just follow #devops on Twitter for proof.) I am not going to be one of many trying to create a buzzword-infested definition of DevOps to suit my particular agenda. Instead, I’d like to talk about what DevOps i...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
In comparison to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) has experienced a slower rate of adoption. However, PaaS is coming into its own as evidenced by increased usage and top technology companies such as HP and IBM supporting open source projects like Cloud Foundry by bringing their own PaaS to market. PaaS is important because apps are an important part of our lives. With this relatively new dependency on web and mobile applications, organizations need to find a way to automate their app deployment and management process just to sta...
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organizations to use this technology on their own infrastructure, and introduce efficient development wor...
Cloud computing is changing the way we look at IT costs, according to industry experts on a recent Cloud Luminary Fireside Chat panel discussion. Enterprise IT, traditionally viewed as a cost center, now plays a central role in the delivery of software-driven goods and services. Therefore, companies need to understand their cloud utilization and resulting costs in order to ensure profitability on their business offerings. Led by Bernard Golden, this fireside chat offers valuable insights on how organizations can get a better handle on their use of cloud computing.
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the DevOps Institute has been named “Association Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The DevOps Institute provides enterprise level training and certification. Working with thought leaders from the DevOps community, the IT Service Management field and the IT training market, the DevOps Institute is setting the standard in quality for DevOps education and training.
SYS-CON Events announced today the DevOps Foundation Certification Course, being held June ?, 2015, in conjunction with DevOps Summit and 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps – the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will result in an improved ability to design, develop, deploy and operate software and services faster.
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
The webinar, hosted by XebiaLabs, will feature 4 experts including Special Host Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project, along with IT thought leaders Gary Gruver, Randy Shoup and XebiaLabs' Andrew Phillips. The panel brings more than 30 years of collective experience surrounding microservices transformations at major companies including Google, eBay and Tripwire. "The story around microservices and containers is pretty compelling and the attraction of more flexibility is obviously alluring," said panelist Andrew Phillips, XebiaLabs VP of product management. "But deploying a 'Hello World' a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that FierceDevOps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FierceDevOps keeps software developers and IT operations personnel updated on the latest news and trends around the rapidly evolving role of the traditional IT worker.
Modern Systems announced completion of a successful project with its new Rapid Program Modernization (eavRPMa"c) software. The eavRPMa"c technology architecturally transforms legacy applications, enabling faster feature development and reducing time-to-market for critical software updates. Working with Modern Systems, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) leveraged eavRPMa"c to transform its Student Information System from Software AG's Natural syntax to a modern application leveraging C# and SQL Server. The newly modernized system enabled UCSB to leverage agile development me...
Plutora provides enterprise release management and test environment SaaS solutions to clients in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Leading companies across a variety of industries, including financial services, telecommunications, retail, pharmaceutical and media, rely on Plutora's SaaS solutions to orchestrate releases and environments faster and with integrity. Products include Plutora Release Manager, Plutora Test Environment Manager and Plutora Deployment Manager.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of the organization. According to a recent press release (www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2999017) from Gar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
DevOps tasked with driving success in the cloud need a solution to efficiently leverage multiple clouds while avoiding cloud lock-in. Flexiant today announces the commercial availability of Flexiant Concerto. With Flexiant Concerto, DevOps have cloud freedom to automate the build, deployment and operations of applications consistently across multiple clouds. Concerto is available through four disruptive pricing models aimed to deliver multi-cloud at a price point everyone can afford.