By Matt Brown, NetApp on NetApp Program Lead, NetApp Information Technology
This is the first in a four-part blog series on automation. Here, we provide an overview of NetApp’s journey toward automation in IT services delivery. Subsequent blogs will detail the people, process, and technology that enabled our automation and service catalog capabilities.
Rapid technology changes, explosive data growth, and economic uncertainty require that IT organizations become more agile and responsive to changing business needs. To achieve this, they must quickly deliver infrastructure to support innovation, growth, and efficiency while reducing risks and costs.
To address these challenges, NetApp IT streamlined and automated processes to accelerate the delivery of IT services through a self-service catalog. The catalog eliminates manual tasks not only through workflow process automation, but also through orchestration, centralized storage via NetApp clustered Data ONTAP, and multi-platform hardware integration. This self-service provisioning of IT infrastructure enables us to deliver new services, functionality, and business capabilities to our project teams at a significantly faster pace than previously possible.
This solution was not something we achieved overnight. NetApp IT began by standardizing on operating systems, hardware, naming conventions, configurations, and designs. We changed our model from one that used multiple hardware and OS vendors – resulting in many custom builds and slow delivery times – to one that now incorporates a well-defined infrastructure platform.
Taking lessons learned from infrastructure standardization and workflow builds, the team was able to automate each step that previously had been done manually. Over the past year we have used automation and self-provisioning, which covers many products and technologies, including, but not limited to, NetApp, Cisco UCS, Fujitsu, Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware, Solaris, IBM, Infoblox, and Oracle.
The benefits have been tremendous and include the reduction in the delivery of a Holistic Compute Environment (HCE) to project teams from weeks to less than a day, the elimination of human error in the build-out of systems, and the reduction in the number of staff and man-hours needed in the delivery of the infrastructure.