Click here to close now.


@DevOpsSummit Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Pat Romanski, AppDynamics Blog, XebiaLabs Blog, 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
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
DevOps is gaining traction in the federal government – and for good reasons. Heightened user expectations are pushing IT organizations to accelerate application development and support more innovation. At the same time, budgetary constraints require that agencies find ways to decrease the cost of developing, maintaining, and running applications. IT now faces a daunting task: do more and react faster than ever before – all with fewer resources.
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction...
Clutch is now a Docker Authorized Consulting Partner, having completed Docker's certification course on the "Docker Accelerator for CI Engagements." More info about Clutch's success implementing Docker can be found here. Docker is an open platform for developers and system administrators to build, ship and run distributed applications. With Docker, IT organizations shrink application delivery from months to minutes, frictionlessly move workloads between data centers and the cloud and achieve 20x greater efficiency in their use of computing resources. Inspired by an active community and trans...
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes – including how the performance, flow and content of your digital systems affects those outcomes – ca...
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments and the details they’ve learned. From performance to network configurations, they've got interesting...
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services and command line interfaces creates context-switching that slows productivity, efficiency, and may le...
Decisions about budgets and resources are often made without IT even having a seat at the table. As technologist we understand the value of DevOps - but do your business counterparts? If they don't, your DevOps initiatives could lose funding before they start. In her session at DevOps Summit, Jeanne Morain, Strategist / Author at iSpeak Cloud, LLC, will provide insights on how to bridge the gap between business and technology leaders. Attendees will learn prescriptive guidance on balancing workloads, critical communication processes and considerations for building out a solid return-on-inves...
Today, we are in the middle of a paradigm shift as we move from managing applications on VMs and containers to embracing everything that the cloud and XaaS (Everything as a Service) has to offer. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hoffman, Advisory Solutions Architect at Pivotal Cloud Foundry, will provide an overview of 12-factor apps and migrating enterprise apps to the cloud. Kevin Hoffman is an Advisory Solutions Architect for Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and has spent the past 20 years building enterprise and mobile software for small businesses, massive enterprises, and everything in ...
While testing is often ignored when it comes to DevOps - it could be the most important aspect of achieving true DevOps success. Without rethinking automated testing from the ground-up, the entire DevOps productivity gain cannot be realized. Large tech companies build their own rapid test automation that runs in minutes across functional, performance, security and other tests. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kevin Surace, CEO of Appvance, will discuss how we learn from these real-world successes and achieve a 95% time reduction in creating and running automated unified tests. Otherwise ent...
DevOps has often been described in terms of CAMS: Culture, Automation, Measuring, Sharing. While we’ve seen a lot of focus on the “A” and even on the “M”, there are very few examples of why the “C" is equally important in the DevOps equation. In her session at @DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, of F5 Networks, will explore HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 along with Microservices to illustrate why a collaborative culture between Dev, Ops, and the Network is critical to ensuring success.
SYS-CON Events announced today that has been named a "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. provides open-source software ELK turned into a log analytics platform that is simple, infinitely- scalable, highly available, and secure.
DevOps delivers remarkable results. But does it help all of IT? Can traditional ‘mode 1’ IT benefit as much as innovative ‘mode 2’? How about the rest of your business? Or have you just shifted your bottleneck? And if so, what can you do about it? Improving dev and ops is necessary, but not sufficient. It often just shifts the burden sideways (e.g., to PMs, SQA, InfoSec, DBAs, NOC, etc.), upstream (to the PMO, Controller, Business Liaison, etc.), or downstream (to TechPubs, Service Desk, Training, etc.).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Alert Logic provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid IT infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that JFrog, maker of Artifactory, the popular Binary Repository Manager, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based in California, Israel and France, founded by longtime field-experts, JFrog, creator of Artifactory and Bintray, has provided the market with the first Binary Repository solution and a software distribution social platform.
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show how to distribute them to any kind of consumer, being it a customer or a data center.
DevOps is speeding towards the IT world like a freight train and the hype around it is deafening. There is no reason to be afraid of this change as it is the natural reaction to the agile movement that revolutionized development just a few years ago. By definition, DevOps is the natural alignment of IT performance to business profitability. The relevance of this has yet to be quantified but it has been suggested that the route to the CEO’s chair will come from the IT leaders that successfully make the transition to a DevOps model. If this still seems foreign to you, I recommend reading up on D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
The principles behind DevOps are not new - for decades people have been automating system administration and decreasing the time to deploy apps and perform other management tasks. However, only recently did we see the tools and the will necessary to share the benefits and power of automation with a wider circle of people. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Sanders, Chief Technology Officer at CloudBolt Software, will explore the latest tools including Puppet, Chef, Docker, and CMPs needed to move from an insulated culture where automation is absent or hoarded to one where the power of ...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
At first adopted by enterprises to consolidate physical servers, virtualization is now widely used in cloud computing to offer elasticity and scalability. On the other hand, Docker has developed a new way to handle Linux containers, inspired by version control software such as Git, which allows you to keep all development versions. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Dominique Rodrigues, the co-founder and CTO of Nanocloud Software, will discuss how in order to also handle QEMU / KVM virtual machines versions, they have developed a new tool, called Vm_commit, which can create commits, backup ...