Much is said about implementing automation solutions. Technically speaking, implementing automation is simple. Problems are introduced when the organization that is attempting to adopt the solution clashes with the automation. Often in organizations, individual teams have some level of automation. This automation works well for them, and in their world they see no reason to change. In order to successfully implement automation in this environment, organizations will need to reorganize to be most effective. In reorganizing, companies should consider the following.
Form Teams Focused on Automation
From my experience, companies that form automation teams tend to be more successful than teams that simply attempt to layer on automation to existing processes and teams. These automation teams can assist the other parts of the organization in implementing the parts of the automation solution that is relevant to them. For example, the automation team would help the security team with creating compliance scans (PCI, SOX, etc) for servers.
In successful companies, automation teams are often broken down into Automation Administrators and Automation Developers. Automation Administrators run the day to day operations of the automation solution. They help teams report on the success of particular automation jobs and troubleshoot any problems with automation.
Automation Developers help the various teams in the organization initially setup automation . Often these individuals have the experience and mindset needed to implement automation. Also, they have an in-depth knowledge of the automation solution, as well as a programming background. These characteristics are important as these individuals will need to implement new automation, and translate existing automation to the new solution. Additionally the Automation Developers help teams modify automation jobs to fit the changing needs of the organization.
Build cross platform teams
Build teams that are focused on more than just one specific function. Instead of having a Windows Server team and a Linux Server, have one server team. Individuals in the team may still focus on a particular specialty, but having a single team helps break down walls that prevent innovation and growth. Individuals in the team can assist each other in developing and implementing automation. Automation solutions such as BladeLogic are cross platform. A cross platform team in the organization can maximize the value of such a solution, helping each member of the team maximize the value of the solution.
Plan, Build, Run
I used to think that reorganization into a Plan, Build, Run structure was a ineffective structure for organizations. After stepping back and looking at successful companies, a Plan, Build, Run structure makes total sense for organizations looking to implement automation.
Plan - the plan stage can work with the rest of the organization to determine what solutions should be automated, gather requirements for automation, and act as a liaison to the build team. This team should consist of individuals that have experience with automation, understand the intricacies involved in implementing automation, and one who knows the right questions to ask regarding automation.
Build - the build team should be focused solely on implementing the automation. This team should consist of individuals that have a strong knowledge of the automation solution and understand how to get the most out of it. This team should also have a multi-platform foundation, as they will be focusing on building automation for the entire organization.
Run - the run team ensures that the automation is working and producing the desired results. They can also assist other teams in making small modification to the automation jobs (for example, deploy a new patch via an existing automated process).
Required Automation Features
In creating such an organizational structure, it is important that your automation solution can support this structure. Your automation solution should have these key features to support your new organization:
- Cross Platform Support - Unix, Linux, and Windows should all be manageable through one interface with a common set of functions and features that are applicable to all platforms.
- Role Based Access Controls - Strong Role Based Access Controls that allow you to granularly give and remove access to elements of the automation solution. In addition you should be able to easily promote packages between teams.
- Packaging Technology - your automation solution needs a strong cross-platform packaging technology that makes it easy to update and change existing processes, as well as rapidly develop new solutions.
With an automation solution that has these features in place, and organizing your teams into a structure that supports automation, you can ensure your company's success in adopting data center automation.