Welcome!

@DevOpsSummit Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Lori MacVittie, Flint Brenton, Dana Gardner

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
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how Docker and Kubernetes reduce software delivery cycle times, drive automation, and increase efficiency How other organizations are using DevOps + containers and how to replicate their success
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereum.
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how developers and operators work together to streamline cohesive systems.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that enables everyone from Planning-to-Ops to make informed decisions based on business priority and leverage automation to accelerate identifying issues and fast fix to drive continuous feedback and KPI insight.
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud using both containers and VMs.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no idea how to get a proper answer.
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to monitor and adjust functions like performance, capacity, caching, security, optimization, uptime and service levels; identify trends or patterns to forecast future requirements; detect problems before they result in failures or downtime; and convert insight into actions like changing policies, storage tiers, or DR strategies.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of SolidFire, discussed how to leverage this concept to seize on the creativity and business agility to make it real.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and on the other side, organizations that will find themselves as roadkill on the technology highway.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of the Progress Corticon and Rollbase businesses, discussed and provided a deep understanding of the low-code application platforms that address these concerns.
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" programs available to startups and innovators.
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, discussed what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to deliver.
Much of the value of DevOps comes from a (renewed) focus on measurement, sharing, and continuous feedback loops. In increasingly complex DevOps workflows and environments, and especially in larger, regulated, or more crystallized organizations, these core concepts become even more critical. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, showed how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningful feedback on DevOps processes to all stakeholders. Learn from real-life examples how to use the data generated throughout application delivery to continuously identify, measure, and improve deployment speed, code quality, process efficiency, outsourcing value, security coverage, audit success, customer satisfaction, and business alignment.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and GM, discussed how clients in this new era of innovation can apply data, technology, plus human ingenuity to springboard to advance new business value and opportunities.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organizations must focus on what is most relevant to deliver value, reduce IT complexity, create more repeatable agile-based processes and leverage increasingly secure and stable, cloud-based infrastructure platforms.
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors and platforms give control back to the users and drives innovation.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.