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Automation as the key to environment management

(Posted on behalf of Ruchira Anekar)


For years, software environments have played a key role in software development lifecycle. Now, with demand for agile software delivery and increased testing demands, there is a frequent need to build and test environments in order to support rapid delivery timelines and maintain quality.
However, the applications and infrastructure landscape has become much more complex. This has increased the challenges of managing software environments including planning, provisioning, configuration, deployment and testing of an environment.
According to Gartner, 40% of estimated effort during the software development lifecycle is wasted on resolving environment related issues. CIOs, therefore, will look to reduce the cost involved in managing the complex environments and keeping it up-to date so that business gets the required support.
Automation can play a major role in enabling organizations to cope with these challenges. Automation relevant to environment management includes a combination of pre-configured tools and scripts supporting the end-to-end environment management lifecycle.


Most software environments are managed manually, resulting in a surge in terms of costs and time required. However, some of these processes and activities could be wasteful activities actually resulting in a delay in time to market for the organization. Automation of such activities can reduce manual errors as well as reduce the cycle time. Some of the activities that could be automated include -

• Environment Provisioning, Configuration, Testing, Deployment and Operational Management
• Test Data Management and related compliance requirements
• Proactive monitoring of environment and self-healing for repeat incidents
• Configuration management with auto-discovery for environment asset  management and licensing
• Patching and upgrade of infrastructure components compliant with enterprise policies

A thorough assessment of existing environment management processes would help identify areas that need automation. Processes that are repetitive and time consuming in nature are good candidates for automation.
To support and enable automation, there are various tools available in the market. Some of these include HP Operations Orchestration, HP Server Automation, BMC Blade logic, UC4, IPSoft tool suites.

These vendor tools can be configured according to the needs of the organization and its readiness with respect to supporting service management processes such as Release Management, Testing, Configuration Management and Software License Management etc.

A good approach is to look at the core requirements for environment management, considering that provisioning needs to be fast and in accordance with the requirements of users.  In my next post, I will be covering the implementation approach to help overcome some of the challenges faced by organizations.

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