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OpenSky has been assisting customers over the last couple of years as they navigate the complex issues that arise when attempting to drive more automation across their IT infrastructures.

A good portion of these initiatives have been focused on helping organizations that have made significant VMware investments to implement the vRealize Suite for automating repeatable tasks and operations management.

Virtualization_ImageWe have discovered that during the process of implementing new levels of automation in their infrastructures, our customers often gain a much more comprehensive understanding of their:

  • server design and build processes
  • business server request processes
  • chargeback for infrastructure consumed versus allocated

The increased visibility to these processes allows for the development of dashboards to better monitor resource consumption rates and improve capacity planning.

A VMware vRealize Automation implementation can be leveraged to automate heavily repeated tasks such as virtual server builds, asset management tasks, ticket creation tasks, Active Directory tasks and post server deployment application installs. This frees up highly skilled Senior Infrastructure Engineers and Architects to focus on more strategic IT initiatives in support of the business. The introduction of automation also enables expanded delegation of implementation and break/fix configuration tasks to junior engineers & operations staff.

Common Misconceptions

We find that many of our clients believe that the vRealize platform is focused solely on automating tasks, such as kicking of deployment from a template to automatically provision and start a virtual server. In reality, the vRealize platform can be leveraged to deliver a much broader orchestration experience. With a few mouse clicks from a user on a web-based portal application – a virtual machine with a selected operating system, memory footprint, virtual CPU allocation, storage capacity is deployed into a specified environment. As part of that deployment, the IP address can be registered with an IP address management solution, added to the correct domain, and moved to the correct Active Directory Container/OU. In addition, an asset management ticket can be created, and the creating user can be added to local admins group (if required). All of these activities are automatically tracked and analyzed in both VMware ITBM & vRealize Operations Manager.

Implementation Challenges

Although the promise and value of expanded automation sounds like a no-brainer, it is often a non-trivial exercise to achieve. Successful design and implementation of an automation solution requires a clear understanding of all process and provisioning tasks across traditionally separate IT silos. How an IP address management system works, or the configuration nuances of the company’s Active Directory OU structure are not necessarily second nature to a virtualization expert. Factor in the complexities of how asset and change management are handled, and the picture becomes even cloudier. All of these dynamics require a focused effort to bring together the right storyboard, before meaningful automation can be successfully instrumented. OpenSky has helped our customers, organize these efforts and where necessary, to bring in the technical subject matter expertise to define and implement automation tasks across various infrastructure platforms.

Customers that have successfully implemented this level of automation and orchestration in their environments have discovered that what used to take days and weeks (even with automated creation of virtual machines from templates) can be accomplished in hours, without the intervention of an infrastructure resource. The automation and orchestration of all of these tasks and activities add up to Engineering and Operations staff having more time to focus on opportunities to better align the IT environment with business goals.

If you would like to talk with OpenSky about your infrastructure strategy, including automating your heavily repeated tasks, please contact us here.

Brandon Moore is a Sr. Infrastructure Consultant at OpenSky. Brandon has more than 15 years of experience helping companies in a variety of industries and has worked for multiple major international financial organizations. He specializes in Virtualization, Storage Architecture & Storage Replication and disaster recovery planning.

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