EMA Radar for Workload Automation (WLA): Q2 2012

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1 EMA Radar for Workload Automation (WLA): Q By Torsten Volk, Senior Analyst Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) June 2012

2 Introduction Founded in 2004, Network Automation focuses on automating and orchestrating IT and business processes in their entirety. AutoMate BPA (Business Process Automation) Server can integrate with the customer s current workload automation solution to centrally orchestrate workloads along the lines of business processes, or it can be implemented as a standalone solution. AutoMate s business process focus, combined with the ability to complete traditional data center focused workload automation tasks, can be described as Network Automation s core strengths. As this EMA Radar focuses on traditional WLA solutions, Network Automation is lagging behind on the spider web and bubble chart, since the software does not aim to compete in certain traditional disciplines, such as CMDB, mainframe support, or critical path monitoring. However, AutoMate could be the appropriate solution for many traditional WLA customers who are open to a system that is not strictly confined to the boundaries of the data center, but can provide value on a much larger scale. For example, in addition to controlling traditional batch jobs, AutoMate can be used by the finance department to compile Excel files into reports and publish these reports to Microsoft SharePoint. Based on statistics provided by Network Automation, approximately 20% of product sales occur outside of IT. This number demonstrates that Network Automation is serious about its vision of having the entire organization benefit from the automation of repetitive tasks, whether they occur in the data center or on a specific end user s workstation. 1

3 During the data gathering effort for this report, Network Automation impressed EMA with its clear vision of how organizational processes should be connected and how customers could take advantage of hosting specific workloads in the cloud. EMA has included AutoMate into the 2012 WLA Radar Report, as we believe that this type of business-focused orchestration and automation will become vital in the near future. Architecture & Integration The AutoMate architecture is simple (see Figure 15), with a central BPA server a high availability cluster is optional and AutoMate agents located on each server executing workloads. AutoMate is able to manage cloud resources by Amazon EC2, VMware vcenter, and Microsoft Azure, and provides a comprehensive Web Services Interface for communication with external business applications. While AutoMate can remotely control most operating systems, it natively integrates with Microsoft Windows and Windows Server only. AutoMate aims at a target market of organizations with no more than 500 servers and approximately 10,000 active jobs. Figure 15: Network Automation Infrastructure Due to the relevance of Microsoft SharePoint in today s ECM marketplace, EMA would like to mention AutoMate s ability to control numerous SharePoint actions, such as the creation, deletion, and modification of SharePoint lists, list items, documents, sites, users, groups, roles and more (see Figure 16). The ability to remotely and automatically manage large aspects of SharePoint addresses SharePoint s three most significant shortcomings in day-to-day operations: consistency, security, and control. 2

4 Figure 16: SharePoint Automation in Business and IT Despite AutoMate s excellent integration with Microsoft SharePoint, the software does not directly connect with certain ERP packages, such as SAP NetWeaver or Oracle ebusiness Suite or with big data and BI solutions, such as IBM Cognos, Informatica, Teradata, or SAS. Functionality Network Automation looks at WLA from a business perspective first. Rather than providing a scheduling solution to address numerous siloed data center challenges, AutoMate allows automating along the lines of actual business processes. Presenting business users with an easy-to-use automation tool follows a radically different approach, compared to the much more data center focused traditional WLA solutions in this report. AutoMate presents the data center or business user with an attractive and highly customizable dashboard, where workflows can be created, monitored, and refined. You may want to think of AutoMate as a business workbench, with a vast set of tools to achieve most business process automation goals without custom coding. EMA especially recommends AutoMate to customers who already have one or more WLA solutions in place. In this case, AutoMate can be leveraged as a light-weight orchestration layer, making formerly data center exclusive features available through a familiar Microsoft Outlook-like interface. While AutoMate offers an easy-to-use administration interface, with strong monitoring capabilities, EMA noted the absence of SLA management features. Despite not necessarily expecting the presence of predictive analytics-based forecasting within a solution at AutoMate s price point, this shortcoming must be mentioned to make the reader understand the current limitations of AutoMate, when compared to 3

5 some of the more traditional WLA solutions. EMA understands that the addition of these capabilities is currently not of the highest priority for Network Automation, as keeping AutoMate s low entry price point in place seems much more conducive to increasing business user adoption, than adding on multiple sophisticated features with significant impact on product pricing. AutoMate enables customers to easily and quickly define and schedule labor-intense, everyday workflows, such as Amazon EC2 resource provisioning, automated file transfers, backup, ERP automation, file archival tasks, etc. To ensure highly consistent workflows that are policy compliant, AutoMate allows storing tasks, conditions, and entire processes within a simple folder structure the AutoMate Repository where they can be easily reused and centrally updated at any point in time. Deployment & Administration AutoMate and AutoMate BPA install very easily to any Windows desktop or server. Agents are deployed through a wizard-driven interface and can be discovered and configured through network discovery, via Active Directory, or manually. Creating connections to Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, SQL databases, or Microsoft SharePoint is also simple, as AutoMate provides the required connection templates out of the box. Despite its lack of SLA management and predictive analytics capabilities, AutoMate is easy to monitor and manage. The management console is very well structured and similar in character to Microsoft Outlook, allowing data center and business users to effectively complete administration tasks without significant training. Cost Advantage Network Automation makes workload and process automation accessible to business users at an attractive price point. The ability to start small and then gradually obtain more licenses makes Network Automation a low-risk proposition worth giving a try. This is especially the case, as professional services are not required for a successful product deployment. Network Automation is priced based on the number of master servers and active endpoints. Vendor Strength Network Automation is a smaller vendor with a strong vision, regarding how the organization can better leverage its local and cloud-based IT resources. EMA is impressed with Network Automation s approach of making complex data center processes accessible to business users. In this regard, Network Automation can be described as a true visionary, offering an alternative to traditional WLA solutions. Network Automation recognizes the importance of a strong channel and is planning to implement a partner certification program later this year. The company has also recognized that it is essential to move toward natively supporting non-windows platforms and to offering mobile applications, as well as critical path analysis, predictive analytics, and decision heuristics. 4

6 Strengths & Limitations Strengths Automation for everyone : Network Automation allows data center and business users to design IT workflows along business processes, aligned with business goals. Providing business users with a tool that allows the automation of repetitive manual tasks, such as the compilation of Excel reports or the addition of a SharePoint site, constitutes an essential step in enterprise automation. Business process automation: Business processes are aimed at the optimal creation of customer value and must be supported by IT processes. All too often, these IT processes develop a life of their own and are neither integrated with each other, nor aligned with the actual business process. In many cases, the IT department does not even know which business processes are affected by the failure of a specific batch job. Network Automation s approach of offering a tool that can be used by business and data center staff, to consistently and effectively automate business processes with the help of IT, demonstrates great vision. Cloud integration: AutoMate offers connectivity for Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure, facilitating the automated provisioning of cloud resources, depending on workload requirements. In its next major version, Network Automation has announced that AutoMate will also support a SaaS delivery model. Ease of use: The user interface is similar in look and feel to Microsoft Outlook and will therefore feel familiar to many business users. Users can create powerful automation workflows without scripting, but scripting is always an option if a certain feature is not offered out of the box. Limitations SLA Awareness: AutoMate does not offer SLA-awareness and predictive analytics capabilities. Enterprise Application Support: While SharePoint support is implemented in a convincing manner, there is little support for other enterprise applications, such as BI, Big Data, and ERP systems. No mobile applications: Mobile platform support is currently not available. Windows only: AutoMate is a solution that requires a Windows master server and Windows agents to run. The software can then use these agents as gateways to non-windows operating systems. This approach may be workable for some customers; however, many organizations will require native Linux, UNIX, or z/os support. 5

7 About Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. Founded in 1996, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) is a leading industry analyst firm that provides deep insight across the full spectrum of IT and data management technologies. EMA analysts leverage a unique combination of practical experience, insight into industry best practices, and in-depth knowledge of current and planned vendor solutions to help its clients achieve their goals. Learn more about EMA research, analysis, and consulting services for enterprise line of business users, IT professionals and IT vendors at or blogs.enterprisemanagement.com. You can also follow EMA on Twitter or Facebook. This report in whole or in part may not be duplicated, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or retransmitted without prior written permission of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. All opinions and estimates herein constitute our judgement as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Product names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective companies. EMA and Enterprise Management Associates are trademarks of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. in the United States and other countries. EMA, ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES, and the mobius symbol are registered trademarks or common-law trademarks of Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. Corporate Headquarters: 5777 Central Avenue, Suite 105 Boulder, CO Phone: Fax: NetworkAutomation

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