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The Power of Automation

By Marc Angelinovich posted 04-10-2018 06:00 AM


The Power of Automation





Enterprises rely heavily on their technology investments to gain a competitive edge, and more importantly, keep up with the demands from an always-on data center. Over the years, IT jobs have become more difficult because of the complexity from growing data assets, multiple management tools, increasing pressure to extract intelligence from the data, and overall volume of data they need to store and protect. In fact, according to ESG’s research, 68% of IT decision makers say that IT is more complex than it was just two years ago. Data is traveling at lightning speed through millions of pathway combinations across the network, like electrical pulses through the human brain. If that’s not complicated enough, IT administrators are given multiple siloed management tools that they must maintain while trying to keep pace with the data. Most admins would agree, it’s been a losing battle for the last few years. The majority of their time is spent doing very manual, repetitive procedures such as checking inventory, checking configuration consistencies, leaving them with a very limited amount of time to get ahead of the data.


More recently, a new wave of technologies has been introduced to try to simplify management and accelerate human productivity. Automation is at the forefront in delivering the most improvements. Automation has often been rolled out in pieces to address particular problems like cloning and copying a database or deploying a new VM. For the most part, enterprises have a goal to automate as many repetitive tasks across the data center as possible but need more time to plan and broader tool sets to accomplish their goal. In order to apply automation across the data center, enterprises need to identify and understand all of their IT processes and where automation delivers benefits. This can be extremely complex as there are many different applications, devices, procedures, and tools choreographing the data center, similar to the image below showing the underlining patterns of a network.





So how do enterprises increase the benefit of automation and scale it across the data center? I already mentioned that it starts with planning, but just as important is to focus not solely on the software but also the underlining hardware. This means don’t just streamline application processes like bringing up a new VM and assigning an application, but also look at all of the manual tasks that happen from cradle to grave in managing the server to network to storage relationship and assess what can be optimized.

Assisting in these efforts, Broadcom has applied its 20-plus years of networking experience to help identify where automation can make the most impact on eliminating manual tasks that consume nearly 50% of admins’ time. Because different enterprises have different automation needs, Broadcom has delivered layered set of tools to enable its Brocade SAN automation, all built on a solid foundation of RESTful APIs that provide admins and third-party automation tools access to the Brocade family of directors and switches. 





Leveraging Brocade APIs with third-party automation tools will help with verifying a storage fabric’s availability, health, and performance. It is also beneficial when streamlining and zoning a new device, provisioning ports to the new server, deploying new infrastructure, troubleshooting, and most importantly simplifying complex operations.

Broadcom’s approach to automation through RESTful APIs is really about providing enterprises with the flexibility to write a script in whichever language they’re familiar with. Brocade PyFOS is a tested library of Python language scripts that simplifies life for the experienced user while also providing useful examples to newcomers. PyFOS is the glue that binds the automation engine with the functionality of Brocade switches. For enterprises seeking a more cross-disciplinary automation tool, Brocade’s PyFOS seamlessly integrates into Ansible for data center orchestration. To further ease adoption, Broadcom offers a number of tools like PyFOS templates and Ansible Playbooks for open communities so enterprises can collaborate and share best practices.


Ansible is an open-source automation platform that is simple to set up and use. Coupled with Brocade tools, it can configure and manage the entire SAN automatically through the execution of a playbook. A playbook is the ability to run tasks in sequence to create a chain of events across several different domain devices like servers, network, and storage.



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Many enterprises have a hard time jumping 100% into automation because their old management is tried and true, but I’m sure we all have a story or two of a time when automation would have saved hours, if not days, of work. The longer enterprises wait it out, the more they are missing out on the obvious advantages of automation. Automating your SAN can save an IT admin up to 86% of the time spent on configuring a network. That’s 86% of their configuration time that can spent on more important projects like increasing storage capacity for the growing volume of data. In addition, projects can be scheduled overnight or over the weekend so the business can keep running revenue-generating transactions.


With data growing at exponential rates and no sign of slowing down, automation is a simple solution to the complex problem of keeping pace with the demands of business.  To learn how you can free up your resources and increase productivity with Brocade automation, visit: