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Our blog today is a contribution from Tim Grieser, Analyst and Program Vice President, Enterprise System ManagemenTim_Grieser (2).jpgt Software, IDC.

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Today's cloud computing infrastructures are transforming the way IT develops, deploys and delivers services to end users. According to standard definitions such as NIST, cloud computing enables on-demand access to shared resources – servers, storage, networks, applications and services – that can be quickly provisioned or released as needed. Whether public, private or hybrid, clouds are built up from highly virtualized infrastructures with management software that provides facilities such as service catalogs, self service provisioning, metered resource use and rapid scalability. Indeed, clouds would not exist without key facilities provided by workload automation including dynamic automated physical and virtual server provisioning, workload and virtual machine allocation and reclaimation and self-service cloud provisioning portals. Automation adds service and process management on top of virtualization management. Clearly, automation is an essential foundation for enabling cloud infrastructures.

 

The use of cloud computing offers a number of key advantages to businesses including agility, speed of deployment, wide user access, operational efficiencies and lower initial costs. To be successful, business services need to meet today's user expectations – rapid Web-based access to an ever increasing array of applications from a variety of devices including hand-held and mobile. With the increasing focus on SaaS and other forms of cloud services, "self-service" access to applications and infrastructure is gaining popularity with business units, IT organizations and end users alike. Self-service solutions provide an opportunity to economize on the use of IT staff time while also providing improved service delivery. Self service can enable business unit access and can provide role-based control. Business users can view and request IT workload services needed to support internal and external customers, without the need for specialized knowledge.

 

There has been much attention paid to the business benefits and opportunities made possible by cloud computing. One area of interest is the use of cloud computing infrastructure as a resource pool for adding capacity, dynamically, to process large or peak workloads normally run using on-premises facilities. This kind of usage requires considerable prior architecting and planning. For example the cloud-based infrastructure and operating environments must be compatible with the on-premises facilities so that transfer of applications and data can be accomplished. The use of workload automation software to manage the operation of such workload expansions is an area promising business benefits from efficient use of resources and minimizing capacity costs.

 

Going forward, cloud computing provides enormous opportunities for business growth and innovation. A number of such opportunities can be realized by migrating workloads into the cloud and using cloud-based infrastructures and workload automation together.

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Our blog today is a contribution from Tim Grieser, Analyst and Program Vice President, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC.

 

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Today's global enterprises are highly dependent on IT-based services for commercial success.  IT applications provide key foundations for business operations and are used to support employee-based functions as well as "back office" processes.  At the same time, IT is being called upon to support customer-facing applications, often being directly accessed by end-users  from mobile, hand-held or browser-based devices, over the Web. Indeed, IT is continually evolving from supporting the business to often being the business.  In this context, focus for automated IT management continues to elevate from jobs and tasks to workloads, IT processes and business services. Increased levels of automation provide expanded opportunities for business development.

 

In  the complex, dynamic on-line environments faced by many IT organizations, it is important to understand "What business opportunities does workload automation provide beyond job scheduling?" By supporting entire IT and business processes – not just optimizing the execution of groups of jobs - workload automation provides a strong foundation for supporting the demands of business growth  by increasing efficiency and minimizing operational errors across a broad set of functions.  Automated solutions help drive up the volumes of business transactions that can be supported reliably and can help meet the requirement  of  providing increasingly higher scalability. The ability to meet  Internet –scale workloads and peak volumes as needed– a key factor in successful Web-based applications – is another benefit.technology-the-basic-right-of-all-people-6.jpg

 

One of the key benefits often mentioned for workload automation is increased business agility – the ability to rapidly deploy new applications or make changes to existing applications in order  to address new business opportunities or respond to customer demands and competitive pressures.  By automating key repeatable processes – such as provisioning physical and virtual servers and even complete applications and business services – IT can respond quickly to rapidly changing business needs to "on demand" pressures.

 

Another aspect of workload automation is enabling more business-centric access to IT services such as self-service access to applications or to management functions such as monitoring workload progress - as defined in a service catalog. Indeed, extension of such automated capabilities to hand-held and mobile devices enables closer alignment of business application owners with IT operations.

 

Of course, workload automation solutions continue to bring benefits to the business by helping to reduce IT costs and improve service levels. These benefits include: managing workloads to minimize resource consumption and operational costs; increasing the utilization of infrastructure resources; reducing errors; slowdowns and outages for higher availability;  increasing staff efficiency; and improving user productivity.  The combined effects gained from adopting workload automation solutions can provide signifcant business improvements- such as agility and improved service levels - while containing costs.  These benefits not only support business expansion and growth but also contribute to enhancing IT-business alignment.

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Our blog today is a contribution from Tim Grieser, Analyst and Program Vice President, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC.

Tim_Grieser (2).jpg

 

Today's global economy is challenging business organizations to provide fast, reliable applications for customers and end-users who are increasingly  using a variety of wireless, mobile and hand-held devices to access business services. 

 

Typically, applications can be managed from enterprise-wide consoles or with Web-enabled interfaces to help meet ongoing business needs. To be competitive, IT organizations are being driven to achieve operational efficiencies while providing high service quality for business critical applications across diverse operational platforms that can include distributed systems, virtualized environments, public and private clouds, as well as mainframes.   A key strategy for helping IT to achieve these goals is automation of key scheduling and operations functions, collectively known as  workload automation.  

 

In today's dynamic IT environments with growing workload complexity,  there are many  functions and operational processes that can be made more efficient – and often  more reliable -  by the use of workload automation software.  Workload automation has evolved over a number of years to include a variety of functions to meet diverse  operational needs. These range from scheduling functions – such as assuring that a set of jobs are completed within a specified overnight time window -- to making sure that a real-time, event-driven workload with complex dependencies executes successfully.   Other forms of automation software that have evolved to be included in the workload automation category include automated physical and virtual server provisioning, workload and virtual machine resource allocation and reclamation, policy-based workflow execution and orchestration, run-book automation and self-service cloud provisioning portals.

 

Clearly, there are a wide range of IT-related functions that can benefit from workload automation.   However, as workload automation evolves it becomes the basis for higher level functions such as IT process automation and business process automation. Keeping these higher level perspectives in mind, it is desirable to simplify workload automation solutions by consolidation and integration.  For example, enterprise  IT organizations will often have multiple solutions – such as workload schedulers -  performing the same functions across a diverse infrastructure.  This situation often arises when a major datacenter consolidation occurs and multiple tools are acquired.

 

In such environments it is appropriate to ask "How can we simplify balancing calendar-based job scheduling, application patching and event-driven workloads – without disrupting the business?"  As a general approach, it is desirable to consolidate multiple automation tools and move to  solutions that provide comprehensive integrated functions and consolidated controls.   Things to look for include: a wide range of automation capabilities; an enterprise wide console with Web-based access;  the ability to monitor, manage and control jobs; workloads and processes from  a  common interface; coverage of heterogeneous infrastructures including distributed; virtualized, cloud and mainframe;  and support for self-service and role-based access. 

 

Given the importance and sensitivity of automation deployments, it is essential that comprehensive migration plans and processes are in place before undertaking consolidations, migrations, or new implementations.  IT staff training, conversion tools and the availability of experienced services support are key resources for successful  transitions and new implementations.

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