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Implementing Automation

Orchestration platforms have better chances of success now that vendors are offering APIs to effectively manage their products. Routers, virtualization platforms, firewalls and storage arrays are delivering core features to enable external administration using XML-based APIs.

Having your own platform will help to develop business appreciation of automation and lead to easier acceptance of orchestration in the future.

Vendor Stacks
The trend for vendors to produce a "full solution stack" is all the rage this year. Consider the partnership of Cisco for data networking, storage networking and Wintel servers, and EMC for storage arrays that work closely with VMware. Or HP’s solution stack encompassed by its Matrix strategy that combines network, storage, Wintel servers and Microsoft HyperV--the list is quite long (and growing). Dell is building a single-source solution combining its acquisitions in Compellent/EqualLogic for storage, Force10 for network and its own server/blades, and all of this is happily independent of either Microsoft or VMware.

The value of these stacks is fully realized by the automation overlays that vendors are offering, where the best current examples are Cisco UCS Manager, HP Matrix products and IBM Tivoli products.

The single-vendor strategy creates opportunities to develop management software that finally works, and the narrow focus on selected products means the integration between the available APIs and the platform can be limited to a workable scope. One of the key failures of previous management tools was attempting to support a wide range of products to have a larger-sized target audience, at the price of deep capability and serviceability.

Consider the following ideas for improving your chances:

  • Achieve a "vendor stack" technology strategy using existing vendor partnerships for reduced integration risk
  • Choose an orchestration solution that is nominated for that vendor stack
  • Engage vendor resources for implementation
  • Do it early, test for success and ditch early. Expect it to fail. Current products are barely out of the version 1 beta and have a long way to go.
  • Lock the purchase decision with successful test and deployment; don’t pay for it up front--move the risk to a working deployment.

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