Automation in the Cloud

By John Suit  |  Posted 2009-02-25 Print this article Print

I haven't seen an actual person reading meters in quite some time. For that matter, when the electric company comes to repair a downed line, they probably have a pretty good idea where the problem is and aren't circling neighborhoods looking for dark windows. It's automated. Similarly, we need some automation in the cloud, as follows:

Automated data collection

Any time spent transcribing, documenting and manually keeping track of VMs-their owners, their settings, their service windows, their file system access, their storage stack, their lineage and so on-is really tedious and unnecessary. Tools should be able to answer all these questions for you, in real time.

Automated historical analysis

If you are collecting data from the present, surely you can keep track of yesterday, last week and last month. Over time, utilization patterns, growth patterns and other trends emerge. Those should be clear to you with some historical perspective. No need to go calculating it yourself-automate it.

Automated capacity management

From the past, you may be able to learn about the future. With a baseline, average growth rates, and a sense for VM decommissioning and reclamation expectations, you can get a lot closer to real capacity planning-which is the justification for additional investment.

Automated barriers to maintain environmental integrity

As these environments grow, you can't monitor every VM user and make them swear not to touch the system directory. Automate the enforcement of read-only zones in the VM, whether directories, configuration elements or application stacks. Set it and forget it.

Automated identification of changes

Some things will change-and some things should change. But nothing should change without leaving a trail, both because best practice requires it and because it speeds up troubleshooting significantly. Automate your system to leave bread crumbs as it changes over time.

Luckily, there are a growing number of vendors in this space who are rapidly solving the challenges of managing your internal infrastructure. But, let's stop short from calling it an internal cloud. When it's right down the hall, there's nothing ephemeral about it.

John Suit is Principal Founder and CTO of Fortisphere. John founded Fortisphere in 2006, and is responsible for developing the core technology behind the Fortisphere product suite. Prior to founding Fortisphere, John was the founder and CTO of SilentRunner, a successful company that was ultimately sold to Computer Associates. John has held several leadership positions at both vice president and CTO levels, and he has invented and launched countless new products in the security space. John continues to advise the Department of Defense and Directorate of Central Intelligence in the areas of virtualization security and management, as well as information operations. He can be reached at

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