First, a brief disclaimer; this is not exactly an article about run book automation. Within Novell and the industry at large, that term has taken on the sense of workflow-driven IT automation in a management environment that includes centralized process definition, monitoring and compliance. Today, we’ll be talking about automation in the data center, but at a lower level, using the workflow execution and job scripting features of PlateSpin Orchestrate. It’s an approach that can be very powerful and flexible for anyone who has a specific problem to solve and is comfortable with a little scripting. It can be ideal for consultants, and can provide the first step in an incremental approach to more complete process automation and governance functions.
Our main purpose here is to show off the automation features of PlateSpin Orchestrate that tend to be overlooked as we emphasize its capabilities as a virtual machine manager within a larger solution for intelligent workload management.
For the uninitiated, a run book is an IT staff’s hard copy collection of system management cheat sheets. Data centers, of course, are like snowflakes—no two alike. Massive diversity of platforms, hardware and applications is the norm, as is some degree of specialization in the IT staff that manages systems, storage, network and front-line operations. Knowledge management is a chronic problem. How do you document dozens or hundreds of sequence-sensitive, dependency-ridden procedures for startup, maintenance, problem diagnosis and recovery so each instance can be executed successfully?
The traditional answer is the run book, a hard-copy collection of rough workflows, hints, approximations and warnings—invariably incomplete, with gaps guaranteed to occur at the most critical location. Today’s version is more apt to be a wiki repository than a loose-leaf binder, but the core challenges are unchanged. Run books are hard to write, hard to maintain and usually even harder to read.
Disclaimer: As with everything else at NetIQ Cool Solutions, this content is definitely not supported by NetIQ, so Customer Support will not be able to help you if it has any adverse effect on your environment. It just worked for at least one person, and perhaps it will be useful for you too. Be sure to test in a non-production environment.