If you are running a sizable infrastructure automation initiative to manage your Data Center server assets then having visibility and ability to track the progress of your Infrastructure automation journey is critical for overall success. As an organization one should have milestones which helps organization track operational efficiency gains and use of automation tool in meeting the organizational security and regulations compliance needs .
Tracking progress of Infrastructure Automation initiative is not only critical to determine current level of ROI but also helps identify areas of operations where use of automation tools can aid value to make organization more agile and aligned with business priorities. Let’s discuss few KPIs measures that owner of Infrastructure Automation Initiative should leverage as they are on board with their infrastructure automation journey.
- Tracking servers in the Data Center – This KPI tracks the scope of automation initiative. Tracking overall server numbers including growing Vs shrinking stats helps understand if owner to focus on what matters and identify if is a need to extend automation to cover most if not all server assets.
- Tracking composition of Physical Vs Virtual Servers by OS and OS versions – This KPI helps understand strategic OS vendors, versions being used, standardization opportunities across business units and identification if there are any OS vendor contractual arrangements which better serves the organization.
- Virtualization genealogy - Tracking virtualization genealogy information is critical to control virtualization sprawl.
- Hypervisors used - Tracking hypervisor platforms and inventory of them helps with standardization and usage pattern across business units.
- Identification of EOL OS and App Versions - Tracking inventory details for your servers and apps is a typical starting point for robust asset management. Tracking inventory of Server OS and App versions helps identify OSs and commercial/open source app versions which are currently EOL. This information helps identify lack of vendor support and security risks exposures to the organization.
- IT Team needs quantification - IT team who is using infrastructure automation tools wants to track bare metal provisioning as well as virtual machine provisioning activities have been carried out and details of how long it has taken to see if they are benefiting from use of automation tools. They should see improvement to the tune of activities taking minutes and hrs Vs days and weeks.
- Capturing Server Configuration Details - Leveraging automation tools for capturing each and every server configuration information across server landscape for Disaster Recovery purpose helps organization prepare for adverse event.
- Track infrastructure operational tasks performed by automation tools - Understanding operational tasks done using automation tools prepares organization for identifying areas which are well suited for such tools and where to focus limited resources. Initial and on going successes achieved due to focused effort helps organization become mature and help it better in grain automation tools to be part of their operational processes.
- Server to Admin Ratio - Ability to track servers to admin ratios over time helps determine automation tool in helping do more with few resources or less skilled resources. It is the key measure of ROI.
- Determining Access Level - Having details of per infrastructure user level access including access at server assets and permissions granted provides organization with a view of who and what level of access users have . It is also critical for organization to understand roles used and permissions are available at the role level. This information provides a centralized view of access control across Data Center and identify weak spots or potential security weaknesses.
- Maturity of Automation - Use of automation tools in the Data Center needs to be policy driven to exercise right level of governance. Understanding of number of patch, security and regulatory compliance and audit policies that are used to manage the infrastructure showcases organization intent to enforce the internal and external policies and how mature/serious organization is about use of infrastructure automation tools.
- Level of Effort spent Vs success achieved using automation tools - Jobs level visibility detailing out of different types of job runs, how long and overall status of those jobs allows administrators determine effectiveness of automation tools for infrastructure management.
- Meeting organization security considerations - Organization’s security team cares for full visibility into how often operations team is running patch scans. Security team wants periodic feeds showcasing per server level status of missing and installed patches as well as compliance achieved against regulations as well as identification of known exceptions. Auditors need details and historical reporting for certain automation activities to track SOX and other forms of operational compliance.
- Patching Level visibility -Having visibility into latest server status across all applicable patch catalogs, trend of patch compliance% over time, correlating peaks and valleys with when OS patch vendor is releasing patches and when security team has agreed to push patches to servers in the Data Center showcases the time lag between availability and application of the patches.
- Commands Executed - Having visibility into which commands have been run on the servers helps security team detect abnormal activities.
- Compliance Details over time - Security team periodically wants IT team to generate Compliance details report showcasing per rule level status of the compliance scan, remediation done and wants to continuously monitor the operational environment for any lapses to take corrective actions.
There are many more KPI metrics beyond what we have covered above which are needed to run an effective infrastructure automation initiative and seeing the value in action. Good news is that Reporting engine for BladeLogic Server Automation is designed from ground up to provide such KPI metrics easing the burden of IT system administrators and Data Center IT managers responsible for Infrastructure Management.