So you’re a CIO of a large trading firm. Your head IT
administrator comes to you and tells you that he doesn’t have the staff to
manage alerts, security warnings and patches.
Trading firms and telecommunications companies process millions of
transactions on computing systems that execute thousands of different tasks.
And when problems arise, or when it’s simply time for routine system maintenance, it can present a huge drain on IT resources because they eat up IT staffers’ time.
Who can keep up? And more importantly, how? You, the CIO, can. With run-book automation.
Turning the pain into gain
Gartner coined the term “run-book automation,” which is slang for what other
research firms call IT management process automation. That is, software that
automates processes and applies the correct resources to changes that arise
in computer systems.
Run-book automation can trigger a configuration management database (CMD), a
software tool many companies are adding to gauge real-time views of changes,
the risks and impacts of planned changes, and how those changes will affect
other resources on a network.
In practical terms, a CMD will let an administrator see a change to a
database in real time, understand the possible outcomes and note how that
change affected an application, for example. The admin could effect a change
Theoretically, run-book automation will take a lot of the work out of the
equation for the admins, allowing them to focus on other tasks to help the
business efficiently run.
Gartner analyst David Williams said run-book automation had almost no
traction when he started tracking it in February.
But it’s gaining steam with the emergence of new software products to
trigger and corral IT processes.
Williams said run-book automation was brought to the market to address who’s
doing what, when, how — essentially to make sense of the murkiness of
point products that can pollute a computer network.
This includes anything from getting a help desk to talk to event systems or
getting information from performance systems that may indicate
additional changes to a server configuration. These are basic things that require machines to communicate with multiple tools and potentially across networks.
“Run-book automation tools unify that communication by looking at the
process that you’re managing and providing visibility and reports on that
process so you’ve got better IT operations efficiency,” Williams said.
Williams divides run-book automation players into two camps: generic and
specific providers. Generic providers, such as startups RealOps, Opalis and
iConclude, aim to automate pretty much anything in a computer system.
Specific run-book automation providers include LanDesk, Enigmatic,
BladeLogic and Opsware, all using run-book automation for a singular task. For example, BladeLogic and Opsware offer IT orchestration for server provisioning. However, they don’t rely on their own technology.
BladeLogic licenses RealOps’ Automation Management Platform as part of its
Orchestration Manager to automate incident, problem, change and
configuration management; Opsware uses iConclude’s OpsForce platform in its
Orchestrator for the same tasks.
Together, the startups in the space offer hundreds of pre-configured
templates for automating IT process management right out of the box.