Business white paper. Four steps to better application management and deployment

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1 Business white paper Four steps to better application management and deployment

2 Table of contents 3 Executive summary 3 The challenges of manually managing application operations 4 How complexity plays out in the life of a database administrator 4 Add agile development methodologies into the mix 4 Automation script sprawl and other pitfalls 5 Implementing automation: a four-step process for better application deployment and management 5 Step 1: Understand your application infrastructure 5 Step 2: Track the complexity of the environment 5 Step 3: Prepare your existing environment by automating key routine tasks 5 Step 4: Automate application deployment 6 The power of automation 6 Case study 7 HP solutions for application automation 7 The HP solution is the only enterprise-grade solution 7 Next steps

3 The challenges of manually managing application operations When we speak of application operations, we re not just talking about release management, which is an isolated event. We also need to address the automation of the key components of application operations, including the server the application resides on as well as its database, middleware, and the applications bits. Applications are complex and error prone to deploy because each application makes unique requirements on the underlying IT environment supporting it. For example, some applications require an Oracle RAC database, while others require a Sybase ASE database. Some require WebSphere, others WebLogic. Some require a blend of these technologies. Executive summary As you know, application management and deployment are only getting more difficult. Your applications have complex requirements that are rapidly changing, and the changes will accelerate as development practices become more agile and applications become more dynamic. The increasing rate of change can cause big headaches for IT if you re still manually managing application operations and the related database and middleware administration or managing hundreds of automation scripts. What alternatives exist to improve application and database deployment processes? Applications also require specific configurations of these underlying environments, including language settings, initialisation parameters, and runtime configurations such as data sources. Applications have many additional artefacts such as properties files and batch process scripts that must be properly deployed and configured alongside the application. These files are often modified depending on the environment they re deployed to, which increases complexity. For example, the development, test, and production environments usually have their own specific underlying environments. All of these requirements have to be documented carefully to facilitate a handoff to production operations during the deployment and promotion process. This paper outlines four key steps you can take to automate application management and deployment so you can quickly deploy and manage application operations for the business users you support whether they are in traditional, virtualised, or cloud environments. It also explores how traditional manual approaches and automation scripts are inadequate responses to the increasingly complex and dynamic nature of applications today. 3

4 Better handoffs from development to operations Automation makes it easier, faster, and safer to hand off applications from the development team to operations. For example, in the application development stages, quality assurance software is used to plan and track requirements during development. Once milestones are reached, QA can use the application deployment tool to deploy the code so that the milestone results can be tested. Once the application has passed QA, the tool can hand off to performance testing software that can flow the results back to the quality software to initiate another loop. In the operations stages, the application deployment software sets up the newly deployed application for monitoring and ongoing compliance management for the rest of the application s lifecycle. Automation script sprawl and other pitfalls Many automation approaches rely on power tools that are installed on a developer s desktop to promote the application files. Typically, these tools cannot perform the database changes that must occur in conjunction with application deployments, and rely on separate siloed processes. Other available tools only provide point solutions and are not capable of addressing the entire problem. So, many operations still have to be done manually even though they re using a tool. For example, a set of tools may be Web-server specific and, though there are subject matter experts to operate them, these tools do not address the environmental dependencies and scale within the enterprise IT infrastructure that they are deployed in. Also, scripting has evolved. It s common for an enterprise to have thousands of scripts, with a set of scripts further customised to have a different version for each operating environment. While spreadsheets, wikis, and war rooms have been recruited to help deployment, it s still too unwieldy to manage efficiently. How complexity plays out in the life of a database administrator For database administrators, manually managing applications with their complex requirements has a heavy cost. Seventy per cent of their time is spent just keeping the lights on by doing repetitive and mundane work. The rest of their time is spent keeping the environment compliant, and responding to a queue of common user requests that often end with, Why is it taking so long? The demands of these administrative tasks leave only odd hours in the day for implementing important changes that can have positive impacts on the database and network. Add agile development methodologies into the mix. Upgrades and refreshes take a long time to fully roll out in a complex applications environment. The frequency and scope of the application changes are on the rise. This complexity is driven by the nature of business applications being used and the agile methodologies IT has adopted to be more responsive to the business. It is common to have software iterations every two weeks to support continuously changing business requirements as features are added or reprioritised. Application deployment complexity Application deployment is a very complex time-consuming process that is prone to errors given the large number of operations needed to deploy successfully. In some cases, these deployment activities consume up to 40 per cent of the operator s day. 4

5 Follow a four-step process to better deploy and manage applications. Step 1 Understand your application infrastructure. Step 2 Step 3 Prepare your existing environment by automating key routine tasks. Step 4 Track the complexity of the environment. Automate application deployment. Implementing automation: a fourstep process for better application deployment and management The good news is that solutions are available today to help administrators automate their routine tasks to significantly reduce error, increase quality of service, do more with fewer resources, cut costs, and get applications to market much faster. Step 1: Understand your application infrastructure. Let s take the example of a large supermarket. It is not sure of the exact number of servers it has. It would be in trouble if it needed to go through an audit, and it lacks empirical data on how time is being spent. So, a first step would be to audit its service desk to generate reports on commonly performed tasks and then plan around that. Step 2: Track the complexity of the environment. The next step is to track the complexity of the environment, especially the configurations that make it complex the versions of the databases and middleware, the patch level they re at, where they re installed, and the configurations that are in place. Since they re different everywhere, it s tough to get a clear picture of what s anywhere. But you must be able to create a baseline catalogue of what you have in the application infrastructure. Step 3: Prepare your existing environment by automating key routine tasks. Next, it s time to build and configure the automation environment. You should set up compliance measurement, automate the patch environment, and automate the release of code into the environment. Step 4: Automate application deployment. Finally, you can automate application deployment. First, model the application so you understand what the application needs. Then, model the target environment so you know where you can deploy the application. After modelling, you will deploy the application into the target environment and re-iterate the process as needed to perfect it so that it becomes repeatable. Further, point-and-click deployment can be used to automate handoff. Reports on the outcome can be generated to ensure complete compliance, control, and governance. If we take patching as an example, this is a time sink that has been called out early in the automation evaluation process. In many cases, this has to be done in the middle of the night, but when automated you can hand it off to a more junior team in another geography who can then just push the button to patch. 5

6 Table 1. Before and after automation Application automation delivers key business benefits. HP application automation solutions have produced measurable results for customers. Task Before HP After HP Efficiency improvement Database patching 138 min./1 DB 47min./100s of DBs 65% Database provisioning 179 min. 55 min. 69% Application server patching 2.35 hr..25 hr. 89% Application server provisioning 17 hr..25 hr. 99% The power of automation Automation enables IT to increase responsiveness to its business customers while reducing risk and cost to operations. Increasing speed of delivery for new applications shortens time to market and increases the company s competitiveness. Case study One customer mined the ticketing system to determine time allocation across administrative silos in order to determine where to automate first. It discovered that the operations administrators were spending 40 per cent of their time deploying code changes for developers. Upon further discovery it found that the operations team had to deploy the code, and application teams could not do this themselves due to separation of duties. There was an ineffective handoff process in place where the application teams would promotion scripts and other artefacts to the database and middleware operations teams, who would then have to figure out what those scripts do, validate that they were compliant with the release policies, and then figure out how to promote the code. In some cases these s had more than 20 files attached to them. There were no standards for how to do this. The administrator would have to manually piece them all together and figure out the correct order to apply them to the code deployment process. This enabled the operations teams to step out of the manual process of code deployment, and work at a higher level to specify code deployment processes and standards. The application development teams were able to get their applications deployed more frequently and without the bottleneck of waiting for an operations administrator to free up to help with the deployment. The entire process also ensured a centralised logging and audit trail, process governance, and compliance reporting. Preparing for the cloud To be truly cloud-ready, applications have to be deployed into an IT environment that offers quick and reliable access to application infrastructure components, including databases and middleware. Application automation can prepare the environment for cloud by automating the daily, often mundane and repetitious administrative tasks that take up 60 per cent to 70 per cent of a database or middleware administrator s day so they won t become a drag on application development and deployment. The customer adopted HP Application Automation software a combination of HP Server Automation and HP Database and Middleware Automation which enabled developers to model their application deployments and create a standard model. For development and test environments, the application team could automate the deployment itself, and the process would verify that there is an active change window for that promotion, validate that the proper version is being deployed for each application component, automatically scan the code for non-allowed code changes such as administrator or root user creation, and only after a clean bill of health, would promote the code. 6

7 HP solutions for application automation Leading companies have already taken the first steps toward automation with HP application automation solutions that combine HP Server Automation and HP Database and Middleware Automation to help them deploy complex applications (multi-server, multi-tier) more quickly and cost-effectively across the many phases of an application s lifecycle. These solutions remove the need for scripting and manual handoff processes that can be fraught with errors and delay time to production. HP software automates repeatable database and middleware processes to increase efficiency by up to 70 per cent, significantly reducing errors and downtime, and improving predictability in administration of these mission-critical technology platforms. The HP solution is the only enterprise-grade solution that offers: Massive scalability that enables adoption across the entire development/operations organisation Integration with the larger deployment process that requires validation with ticketing and change management and other systems such as CMDBs Process governance that ties into source code control systems to verify that the correct versions of applications are promoted across the development, test, and production stages of the application deployment lifecycle Next steps To learn more about how you can increase efficiency by up to 70 per cent with HP application automation, join the community and watch the interactive webcast at hp.com/go/dma. Join the conversation. Application automation is a hot topic among database administrators, IT managers, and CIOs. Join the conversation by participating in our blog, hp.com/go/bsablog. 7

8 Get connected hp.com/go/getconnected Get the insider view on tech trends, alerts, and HP solutions for better business outcomes Share with colleagues Copyright 2011, 2012 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. 4AA3-4231EEW, Created April 2011; Updated April 2012, Rev. 1

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