What is Server Automation? Server Automation Explained

Traditional server management can include hundreds of infrastructure elements managed by multiple systems and computers in multiple data centers. It’s a complex network, often leading to delays and small mistakes at a time when pressures on enterprise technology are only growing. Enterprises are often demanding a shift from discrete devices in favor of delivering services across the enterprise with greater flexibility, speed, and efficiency. But doing more with the same old tools simply won’t be enough. Server automation can reduce the complexity of manual server management while increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

Server automation consolidates task and process automation into a single solution for more efficient application deployment and continuous management across virtual and physical systems. It enables end-to-end management through the creation of workflows that automatically coordinate tasks and processes, leading to a reduction in human-caused errors. It’s particularly useful for small teams of developers who need to constantly keep production running to enable a continuous delivery process.

Below you’ll find additional details on what server automation is, the benefits it can provide, and how to get started.

Features and benefits

of server automation

Clean

architecture

The core server-agent architecture of an automated server consists of a core and an agent. The kernel is the physical server component that can run on one or more servers and stores information about server configurations. Distributing core components across multiple servers scales functionality while increasing performance.

Meanwhile, the agent side of the architecture is a software component that runs on the server operating system. Its primary purpose is to communicate with the kernel, allowing the kernel to manage the server lifecycle.

Compare this to non-automated situations where a data center of thousands of servers requires manual management through a long list of different tools. Installing a server automation core and deploying server automation agents in an environment reduces these requirements and streamlines management.

Safe and reliable

With the simple automated architecture of server automation comes increased reliability. Humans are naturally prone to errors and slip-ups for various reasons, but a machine works perfectly given the right programming. And this perfect performance frees up a lot of time and effort that the developer team would have previously spent on bug checking.

Because the team can worry less about double checking, fewer users will need access to the server. The automated server is essentially the only one that needs access, so you can eliminate risky extended user access. Reduced access permissions and effective error checking lead to a safe working environment for the developer team.

Setting up the environment easier and more reliable

Speaking of user errors, manual server installation can lead to unique configurations and behaviors. While uniqueness is beneficial in many contexts, it is better to have homogeneous servers that prevent the appearance of distinct and unknown errors.

Server automation enables such homogeneity, leading to more consistent performance. If there are any errors, it will be the same on all servers, so it will be easily fixed. This results in a consistent disaster recovery process when dealing with hardware issues.

As

developers work alongside server automation, they can leverage their all-seeing eye to generate immediate notifications and reports based on every task the server completes. The options for notification warnings are flexible, as they can be addressed to the author of the confirmation individually or to the entire team.

For example, a developer who commits code to the central repository for other team members to view may receive warning notifications if the automated server determines that the commit causes problems for compilation. This addresses the problem at the source rather than allowing it to cause more problems in the future, requiring interference from other team members.

Using

Software Policies

Server automation enables software modeling through the use of policies. Several specifications can be included within a software policy, including settings that will be applied to managed servers and the packages and patches that will be installed, as well as users, groups, files, and scripts.

There is also a framework within server automation, ensuring compliance with defined policies. The framework helps identify and remediate specific instances where the server is not compliant with software policies.

Range of interfaces and tools

You have a few options when it comes to making use of server automation. The most commonly used tool by most server administrators is SA Client. It is a Windows desktop application that uses java for provisioning, policy, and software management. Similarly, there is SAS Web Client that provides a web-based interface where users can perform tasks such as server administration, track configuration changes, and manage user permissions.

In addition, an SA Command Line Interface (OCLI) provides an efficient means of file management within the software repository and a data center markup language (DCML). The Exchange Tool is ideal for transferring information from one kernel to another. For creating and loading ISM, the ISM Development Kit contains several useful tools and command-line libraries.

One

of the biggest problems many companies have is successfully packaging and delivering their software to the customer. Larger companies typically turn to automation, but smaller teams may see it as too large or unnecessary an expense for their lower workload. However, that’s not the best perspective to take, as many developers focus much of their time on improving an app’s features, often neglecting to make improvements in delivery. Server automation can help facilitate and speed up the deployment process in several ways, starting with creating test environments.

Test environments that use the same processes as production allow for test deployments where developers can see the performance of new features before shipping them to the end customer. This process optimally reveals any errors or malfunctions, thus improving the software quality of the final product. Server automation also enables the implementation of a rollback process to avoid errors after the test environment is replicated in production.

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