Automate Server Processes from the Endpoint Management Console

Reduce costs through higher levels of automation for datacenter servers

Tivoli Beat. A weekly IBM service management perspective.

As IT continues to evolve, becoming both more capable and more efficient, one of the best strategies for optimization lies in automating the most commonly utilized processes in the infrastructure.

Perhaps the most common instance of this is the familiar case of server provisioning. Whereas IT used to manually provision servers with complete software stacks—operating systems, applications, middleware, configuration settings—today, it's more common for automated tools and scripts to handle this duty, based on predefined server images. The result is that servers are updated faster and more consistently, which accelerates service delivery.

One of the most compelling things about the IBM Endpoint Manager family lies in the fact that it can add value in the IT infrastructure in a similar way. While many IT professionals interpret "endpoint" to mean "desktop, laptop, or mobile device," Endpoint Manager provides extensive support for servers as well—both traditional, physical servers, and dynamically created virtual servers. It is thus a truly centralized console for comprehensively managing endpoints of all kinds, over the full span of their lifecycles.

Since virtualization is commonly seen as a stepping stone to private cloud architectures, Endpoint Manager has become even more powerful and beneficial to IT organizations. As companies move toward a private cloud, Endpoint Manager can facilitate that transition by automating and accelerating many everyday tasks required to manage servers or other endpoints—which helps IT to standardize operations and improve their efficiency.

IBM Endpoint Manager includes thousands of pre-built automation tasks for incredible out-of-the-box value

While the Endpoint Manager family already includes many automated capabilities for lifecycle management, security and compliance, and patch management across physical and virtual servers, IBM Endpoint Manager for Server Automation bolsters this strength even more.

"Endpoint Manager for Server Automation includes the capability to sequence an extensive library of endpoint manager tasks—thousands of them, in fact, to fulfill common server tasks. These can be run in isolation, or combined creatively as needed to accomplish more complex chores."

The case for this offering is straightforward: the more easily, swiftly, and consistently IT organizations can carry out everyday tasks involving production servers, the better the business can save or make money—many of those tasks can be automated.

For this reason, Endpoint Manager for Server Automation includes an extensive library of endpoint manager tasks—thousands of them, in fact, to fulfill common server tasks. These can be run in isolation, or combined creatively as needed to accomplish more complex chores. The solution also includes a straightforward policy language that IT professionals can use to quickly and easily build new tasks, as well as wizards that simplify the creation of custom automation. In this way, it becomes much simpler and faster to automate almost any server management task (both virtual and physical).

Let's look at a few specific use cases to illustrate how these features add up to significantly optimized server management.

Combine tasks to automate and accelerate complex server processes of many types

While most organizations have sought to apply automation to production servers, there's still quite a bit of room for improvement. Many tasks that could be automated still aren't—a gap between reality and potential that IT and business leaders alike would surely like to close.

IBM Endpoint Manager for Server Automation helps close this gap by automating such common tasks and sequencing them in a logical way. For example, consider the common scenario in which newly released operating system updates must be applied to multi-tiered servers. A manual approach to updating an infrastructure of hundreds or thousands of up-and-running servers would take quite a bit of time, and also increase the possibility of human errors.

Endpoint Manager for Server Automation solves this problem. Given information from the agent installed on each server (whether physical or virtual), Endpoint Manager can establish exactly which servers have updates and which don't. Then, using its automation plans and associated policies, it can carry out the updates and report back to the central server, thus giving IT professionals the visibility they need. Because the process is automated, the updates happen consistently and finish far more quickly, so that IT staff can dedicate their time to more complex, higher priority business tasks.

The Endpoint Manager design yields impressive benefits. While many IT teams leverage pre-built server images, especially in virtual environments, most organizations see a benefit to building a server using a ‘layered’ approach: deploy a pre-defined operating system image, harden/configure the OS (IP, DNS, host name, etc), deploy some simple applications, perhaps deploy some middleware, configure, etc. The advantage of using this “discrete units of automation” approach is that it’s easy to change one layer of automation without having to rebuild the entire flow. IBM Endpoint Manager for Server Automation facilitates this approach and leverages Endpoint Manager’s continuous configuration compliance policies to ensure that servers stay configured the way they were intended.

This is a far simpler, faster, and more business-prioritized way to roll out new services than IT is likely to be using at the present—and it's entirely customizable, up to and including the specific configuration settings each new server/application will require. In many cases, new automation scripts won't even be needed; the existing library will suffice, right out of the box.

A single point of command over the entire endpoint infrastructure

For IT managers looking to simplify everyday administration, Endpoint Manager for Server Automation is thus a perfect fit. All of its capabilities as described above can be executed and overseen from a single console—and only one agent needs to be deployed. Endpoint Manager thus unifies virtual and physical server management, abstracting out technical details in favor of what matters most: the extent to which the total infrastructure is supporting business requirements in a fast, consistent, and cost-effective fashion.

And when you consider that this same platform can also be used to manage traditional endpoints—those desktops, laptops, and smart mobile devices previously mentioned—the argument for Endpoint Manager for Server Automation becomes almost overwhelming.

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