Do Your IT Housekeeping with UC4 Workload Automation Suite

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1 Do Your IT Housekeeping with UC4 Workload Automation Suite Introduction This document describes how to keep the increasing complexity of data centers in check by means of IT housekeeping specifically, by having as many processes as possible running and monitored automatically. Data centers are dynamic units that are continually changing due to company growth, company takeovers and mergers, or due to new technical developments such as the expanding use of virtual hardware. IT housekeeping means that fundamental infrastructure processes and maintenance tasks can be organized into heterogeneous IT landscapes. Companies thus become more agile and better prepared for handling current and upcoming compliance requirements. Order is Half the Battle in the Data Center... 2 IT Housekeeping with UC4 Software... 3 Recognizing and Displaying Dependencies... 4 On the Road to a Dynamic Data Center... 5 Aiming for ITIL Compliance...5 Conclusion... 5 Copyright 2008 UC4 Software GmbH (UC4), all rights reserved. The materials in this publication are protected by copyright and/or other intellectual property laws. Any unauthorized use of the materials in this publication can result in an infringement of these laws. Unless expressly permitted, the copying of information or documents from this publication, in any form, without the prior written permission of UC4 is prohibited. 1

2 Order is Half the Battle in the Data Center IT managers in large companies are not to be envied these days: data amounts are growing at a record pace, business processes require workflows practically in real time, and at the same time infrastructures and data amounts are becoming more and more diversified. This certainly does not simplify administration work. Alongside day-to-day operations, resources also need to be found for migrating and consolidating systems as well as testing and implementing new technologies. This is a way to get started on the road toward service-oriented architecture or toward virtualizing a portion of the servers. There is only one viable way to move forward when trying to balance the sometimes diverging demands of economic efficiency and technical innovation: automating the entire IT landscape as much as possible. Data centers have to first be running on autopilot before capacity becomes available for initiating new projects. Figure 1 IT personnel are forced to concentrate on day-to-day operations instead of focusing on new projects Data centers are dynamic units. They have the tendency to grow over the years and continually change in part. Without detailed and prompt documentation of all systems and processes, the IT department turns into a kind of black box. At some point, nobody knows what s going on inside of it. How do certain results come about? And what are the mutual dependencies between various individual processes? Figure 2 Automating the day-to-day operations frees up personnel to be deployed in new projects 2

3 The technical jargon for documentation of all these processes and dependencies is called the IT run book. It is really a kind of IT operations manual where the correct how-to of specific tasks and jobs is described. A significant portion of the run book consists of what is called IT housekeeping. This is where fundamental infrastructure processes and maintenance tasks are organized, such as starting and stopping databases as well as regular data backup and restore activities. This area is absolutely critical for all data center processes; moreover, they take lots of time and are error-prone due to operating personnel: A database usually has to be shut down before regular backup. The more manual steps involved, the larger the probability of making mistakes with potentially serious consequences. Figure 3 - Manual or semi-automated IT run book and, in comparison, fully automated. IT Housekeeping with UC4 Software UC4 Software offers a complete workload automation solution with which companies can automate IT housekeeping processes related to the entire infrastructure. UC4 Workload Automation Suite automates IT processes and enables jobs to be better planned. Enterprise-wide workloads can be processed faster and more transparently as a result. This functionality is essential in all companies and sectors. Once they reach a certain size, all business applications require sufficient IT capacity to run smoothly and efficiently. The UC4 solution is based on an interoperative automation engine for managing, controlling, monitoring, and synchronizing IT workloads. This means that even continuous processes comprising multiple applications and operating systems can be automated such as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) processes for filling up data warehouses. One special feature of the UC4 approach is that, alongside the infrastructure, it also covers a whole range of applications including SAP, Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, or SunGard Banner Higher Education. This means that existing investments are protected because strategic applications as well as system management tools can be integrated with well-proven and certified interfaces to ERP, CRM, HR, or BI applications. If there is no interface to an application, information flows within the entire IT landscape can also be controlled via open API integration, such as when automating customer-specific applications or connecting legacy systems. The system platforms supported include UNIX, LINUX, J2EE, z/os, BS2000, HP 3000, HP NSK, Windows Server, OS/400, and many more. This also means that the frequently separate lines of responsibility within a company between actual data center operation and the applications can be eliminated. UC4 Workload Automation Suite also offers uniform, centralized control over these kinds of cross-department and cross-platform tasks. Extensive functionality, connection to standard applications, open interfaces, as well as the multiplicity of supported system platforms make UC4 the ideal platform for IT housekeeping. 3

4 Recognizing and Displaying Dependencies The biggest problem with automation of enterprise-wide IT processes lies in identifying and displaying dependencies: for instance, a backup solution that can only begin once the database operation has been concluded; a billing sequence that requires data from database synchronization; data that has to be converted before further processing; a crashed server that has to be rebooted; or a monthly balance that requires maximum computing power. SAP, for instance, offers no separate backup functionality, so that the backing up of data has to be done via the infrastructure that is, directly via the databases located on the servers. In practice, individual jobs in complex job chains require external impulses to initiate the processes. UC4 Workload Automation Suite controls enterprise-wide process administration using calendars (monthly balances ready on last day of the month, taking holidays into consideration, etc.), events, dynamic data changes, message queues, database triggers, file availability, threshold values, resource availability, and more. Scheduled batch runs can be integrated with other tasks via well-tested interfaces to enterprise information systems and frameworks, such as HP OpenView, BMC Patrol, and IBM Tivoli. Downtimes are reduced to a minimum by eventdriven synchronization of IT housekeeping tasks such as the backing up of databases or reorganization of other tasks. This automated infrastructure with centralized control helps to retain a good overview of dependencies and ultimately also creates the prerequisites for effective change management. In the UC4 platform, change consequences are transparent and can be tested risk-free due to the solution s multi-client capability. What does this mean exactly? This means that in keeping with conventional IT practices, a testing, development, and production environment can be operated within a UC4 system and a process can then be exchanged without causing any trouble between different clients. Practically speaking, this means that a job is generated in the development environment and then tried out in the testing environment before it is integrated into the production environment, where it is immediately available for implementation. Figure 4 Dependencies in manual or automated environments Within their own IT landscape, service providers can easily run multiple UC4 installations separated logically from one another for their customers and nonetheless manage them centrally. For IT housekeeping purposes, the fact that UC4 solutions are entirely object oriented means an enormous time savings. Individual steps in complex job plans correspond to individual objects. So when making a change, you make that change to just one, single object and that change is executed in all related jobs. This is an enormous help to data center managers. 4

5 On the Road to a Dynamic Data Center A data center can really only become truly dynamic once the fundamental processes are effectively organized this applies to backup, restore, and file transfer processes especially. Highly dynamic distribution and management of workloads across multiple servers ensures maximum performance; furthermore, data throughput is optimized and IT systems availability increases. This also applies explicitly to virtual environments. UC4 does not make any distinctions in this regard, except that it offers special licenses for virtual machines. It is commonly thought that virtualization reduces complexity in a data center. This is not quite true. Although it does generally lower the number of machines in the server park, this advantage is nullified by the reality of having to manage numerous virtual servers. A VMware customer runs around 100 ESX servers (with VMware) in his data center with a total of about 8,000 virtual servers running. This kind of infrastructure entails fast configuration changes to several hundred virtual servers without automation, practically unthinkable. No reasonably conceived time frame would be adequate. VMware infrastructure support is integrated in the UC4 solution with the UC4 Agent for VMware. Virtual machines such as Linux and Windows are treated like a physical machine by UC4 Workload Automation Suite. Figure 5 UC4 resource management Aiming for ITIL Compliance An important aim for persons running data centers today is conformity with the established ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) standard. ITIL describes the processes that IT operations are based on and thus indirectly influences the workflows in the software solutions being used as well. Compliance with this standard is a serious challenge when taking the following into consideration: systems are becoming more and more heterogeneous; the necessary integration of ad hoc processes; and frequent changes to infrastructure. UC4 enables companies to take a decisive step closer toward ITIL compliance. UC4 is capable of integrating external scripts, such as those from Unix (cron) or Windows systems (WinAT). Alongside easier, centralized management via a uniform GUI, this approach also has distinct security-related advantages: In Unix, the cron scripts can be changed at any time by any employee with administrator rights without having to document these changes. UC4, however, requires that every IT employee must log in before making any changes and each of these changes is documented in an audit-compliant fashion practically speaking, this is the only realistic way of maintaining compliance. Process automation and IT risk management go hand in hand here. In an automated IT landscape, manual and ad hoc jobs should definitely be the exception, but are possible if the situation calls for them. To be able to assess the implications of any manual efforts by IT personnel, the run book must be consulted. This is where instructions are recorded for what to do if there were, say, a total failure of the SAP system. Conclusion Intelligent IT housekeeping ensures things are kept orderly, increases transparency in the data center, and simultaneously frees up administration personnel for other tasks. UC4 Workload Automation Suite facilitates optimization and automation of fundamental infrastructure processes and maintenance tasks so that performance and availability increase. Centralized control via a system-wide, uniform management console largely solves the problems that heterogeneous IT landscapes so often entail. Workloads can be distributed flexibly, errors due to manual efforts are eliminated, and compliance requirements are easier to implement and fulfill. 5

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