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Taneja Blog / Software Defined/Virtualized Infrastructure

Dev/Test Lab Automation Expands Your Cloud Options

When virtualization first exploded on the scene, Data Center Automation (or DCA, or sometimes Run-Book Automation) enjoyed a renaissance within the vendor community. The push for IT process automation generally follows each major shift in technology. The story is usually, “you have to deal with new technology…why carry over labor-intensive and error-prone processes to manage it?” It’s a good story, and customers who plan for new processes to accompany disruptive technology implementations are shown over and over again to have much higher success rates.

This pattern is shaken up a bit when exploring how best to take advantage of off-premise or Cloud services, whether they are Infrastructure-, Platform-, or Application-as-a-Service (IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS) offerings. If you’re looking at hosted solutions, does IT process management or automation mean much? Isn’t that up to your hosting provider? Isn’t that what you’re paying for? The answer depends on the type of application or activity you plan to outsource.

Consider development and testing. Many dev/test teams work in a sandbox of physical or virtual servers and generally don’t get the level of IT support given to production applications. Dev/Test can often be a wild frontier: there’s a lot of freedom, but not much support. If you break something, you fix it yourself. If you don’t employ any sort of dev/test lab management processes (manual, scripted, automated, etc.) to control machine configurations, utilization or resource contention, you can’t expect any of these to improve when handed off to a service provider.

The good news is that, since virtualization often entered the enterprise through the dev/test lab, there’s a high level of experience and confidence in virtualization there, and lab automation solutions have had several years to grow up. Lab management tools also come in several flavors: in-house, fully-hosted, and hybrids – matching the multiple flavors of cloud available. You can start to automate your dev/test lab in house, with a private cloud (like IBM’s CloudBurst and others) as your infrastructure foundation. You could layer that with VMware’s Lab Manager or VMLogix LabManager to automate, or you could explore Surgient for a fully hosted solution. When you’re ready to move to a hybrid cloud, most vendors will be ready with cloud editions that enable you to move all or part of your infrastructure AND processes, as needed, off site.

Regardless of the path you choose, you should be finding the time to automate as much of your lab processes as possible, because you can’t move manual or ad hoc procedures anywhere. Lack of automation doesn’t just hurt the development cycle; it will soon start to hurt your ability to take advantage of the cloud.

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  • Premiered: 07/30/09
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Automation Cloud Cloud Computing Lab virtual infrastructures

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