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IT Automation: The Quest for Lights Out

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IT Automation: The Quest for Lights Out


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  • Copyright 2000
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 190
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-013786-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-013786-9


  • Maximize reliability, address downtime, and maintenance costs!
  • Planning, analyzing, and implementing your appropriate level of automated data centers and infrastructure operations
  • Real-world guidelines, methodology, and best practices
  • Organization, staffing, technology, deployment, and management tips from the experts!

Data center automation in distributed environments: practical advice and proven tools!

Everyone wants a "lights out" data center and infrastructure operation-but in an era of distributed, Internet-centered computing, that's tougher to accomplish than ever. IT Automation: The Quest for Lights Out can get you remarkably close to the level that's right for you. In this book, a leading IT consultant, with the help of his number-one supporting cast, helps you define realistic goals for automating your IT data center and infrastructure, and then delivers a systematic, enterprise-level methodology that encompasses today's best approaches to achieving those goals, from planning through deployment and management. Coverage includes:

  • Analyzing your own operation to identify gaps and requirements for automation
  • Designing IT automation: steps, operations, and key considerations
  • Addressing the organizational and staffing challenges associated with data center and infrastructure automation
  • Redefining your technical architecture and administrative processes for maximum efficiency
  • Selling your IT automation plan throughout the organization
  • Post-deployment continuous improvement techniques for enhancing your "lights out" operation

IT Automation: The Quest for Lights Out contains all the hands-on resources you need to get results: sample project plans, process flows, IT org charts, and more. If you're an IT executive, operations manager, consultant, or vendor seeking to enhance the value of enterprise data centers, or even an IT Management graduate student, this is the one book that will get you there.

Sample Content

Downloadable Sample Chapter

Click here for a sample chapter for this book: 0130137863.pdf

Table of Contents

1. "Lights Out"-Exposed.

Identifying the Components and Complexity of Lights Out Operations. Automation-The Reality Check. The Two-Second Validation.

2. Gap Analysis.

The Gap Model. Your Data Center Today-The Before Picture. The After Picture-The Lights Out Data Center. Needs Analysis. Obtaining Business User Requirements. Working with Applications Development and Data Center Staff. Automation Requirements. Validation of Automation Requirements vs Needs Analysis. The Gap.

3. The Organization.

Prototype IT Organization. Applications Development-by Line of Business (LOB). (New) Technology-Research and Planning. Business Consulting. Enterprise Services. Typical Problems and Issues. Fragmentation. Process Infrastructure. Operations Functions. The Shared vs Distributed Services Dilemma. Automation Initiative-Staffing Issues. High-level Functional Roles in the Automation Project. Team Leader. Enterprise Services. Applications Development. Technology. Business Consulting. User Community.

4. Design and Planning.

Designing the Technical Architecture and Administrative Processes. Technical Architecture Design. Related Selection Criteria. Identifying Vendor and Outsourcing Opportunities. Administrative Process Components. Document and Audit Existing Processes. Production Acceptance Objective and Process. Problem Management Objective and Process. Change Management Objective and Process. Asset Management Objective and Process. Disaster Recovery Objective and Process. Administration Process Design Review. Consolidated Design. Planning-Highlighting Automation Project Nuances. Planning the Automation Initiative.

5. Financial Planning.

Ownership. Choosing Lease versus Buy. Leasing Benefits. Leasing Types and Realities. Cost of Implementation. Ongoing Service. Cost Benefit Analysis. Flat Growth. Efficiency and Performance. The Financial Plan.

6. Communicating and Presenting the Plan.

Building Support Among Key Constituencies. Gathering Information and Getting Organized.

7. Deployment and Continuous Improvement.

Technology Deployment. Assumptions and Risks. Downtime. Communication. Testing. Administrative Process Deployment. Inventory. Summary. Continuous Improvement. Reporting. Evolving. Internal Service Levels. In Closing.

Appendix A: Most Frequently Asked Questions.

People. Processes. Technology. General.

Appendix B: Enterprise (Data Center) Services.

Sample Organization and Management Job Descriptions. Enterprise (Data Center) Services Director. Computer Operations Manager. Network (WAN) Infrastructure Manager. LAN (Desktop) Administration Manager. End User Services Manager. Individual Contributor Roles/Purposes.

Appendix C: Sample IT Operations Internal Service Level Agreement.


Table I-1. Methodology and Chapter Mapping. Table 1-1 Data Center Components for Automation Consideration. Table 1-2. Automation Components-Reality Check. Table 2-1. Gap Analysis Steps. Table 2-2. Sample User Questionnaire. Table 2-3. Automation Requirements. Table 2-4. The Sample Gap Matrix. Table 4-1. Sample Disk Capacity Management Requirements. Table 5-1. Leasing Options. Table 5-2. Resource Worksheet. Table 5-3. Staff Reduction Matrix. Table 5-4. Efficiency Example. Table 6-1. Engaging the Enterprise to Build Support. Table 6-2. Presentation Criteria. Table 7-1. Data Center Upgrade Assumptions/Risks Checklist. Table 7-2. Performance Metrics. Table 7-3. Management Metrics. Table 7-4. Methodology and Exercise Review.


Figure I-1. Data Center Diagram. Figure I-2 Lights Out Execution Methodology. Figure 3-1 Prototype High-Level IT Functional Organization. Figure 3-2. Prototype IT Functional Org-Enterprise Service Detail. Figure 3-3 Project Team Organizational View. Figure 4-1. Technical Solution. Figure 4-2. Technology Design Process. Figure 4-3 Administrative Process Reengineering and Technical Design. Figure 4-4. Production Acceptance Process Flow. Figure 4-5. Problem Management Process Flow. Figure 4-6. Change Management Process Flow. Figure 4-7. Asset Management Process Flow. Figure 4-8. Administrative Process Reengineering and Technical Design. Figure 4-9. Sample Automation Project Plan. Figure 7-1. Sample Automation Project Plan-Technical Automation Deployment. Figure 7-2. Sample Automation Project Plan-Administrative Process Deployment. Figure 7-3. Change Management Process Flow. Figure B-1. Sample Personnel IT Organization Chart.





As new and enhanced information technologies penetrate the enterprise at increasing rates, the IT executives who recommend and approve them are doing so with higher and higher expectations for increased automation and measurable returns.

In an automated enterprise, managers expect lower personnel requirements, greater reliability, quicker problem resolution, less downtime, and lower maintenance costs. With these benefits, no wonder the investment in new technologies continues to escalate. However, the complexities of distributed computing, integrated systems including outsourced service bureaus, and heterogeneous data centers have made these benefits difficult to come by. In many cases, the new data center environment is more manually intensive and more expensive to operate than ever before.

Lights Out, in its purest definition, is not a perfectly attainable goal. This book presents a methodology for achieving the highest level of automation possible.

This book addresses the problem with practical advice, guidelines and tools that will lead you through the analysis, planning, and implementation of data center automation projects. The process begins with an exercise that develops realistic expectations for a level of automation that you can expect to achieve in your data center environments.

Next, the book guides you through a gap analysis and the identification of automation requirements. Lights Out addresses IT organization and project staffing issues, followed by a thorough review of the steps, options, and considerations of the design phase. The particular challenges of planning an automation project are defined in the section on project planning.

Most IT managers will need to "sell" their automation initiative to upper management. This book details the steps and techniques required, including the development of financial plans and strategies. Of equal importance, you will find valuable, easy-to-apply tips and communications approaches to package and sell the total project.

This book also contains experience-proven guidelines for successful deployment and post-implementation improvement.

Data Center Definition

A data center is more than a computer room full of hardware and software. In the new enterprise, "the network is the data center." The data center is comprised of the network and virtually everything attached to it-the computer center, workstations, desktops, and all related components.

Figure I-1 depicts a data center spanning two locations: a central area where the main computer room is located and a remote facility that is connected to the components in the computer room via a Wide Area Network (WAN). The central computer room contains enterprise (database), application, and file servers, communications equipment, and supporting hardware.

The distributed servers in the location where the computer room resides are located within and outside the computer room. In general, distributed servers may be located anywhere from a central computer room to the most remote locales of the enterprise, and at any point in between.

Data center production processes manage most if not all of the components shown in the Data Center Diagram. Take, for example, the distribution of software from the server to the desktop. Software distribution models, which consist of a combination of software and technical processes, centrally house and manage applications and make the software automatically available to other systems and to desktop users. The technical and administrative processes to effectively manage software distribution are executed by the data center.

As you read this book, remember that the term "data center" refers to the network, all of its components as illustrated above, and all of the technical and administrative processes that it executes.

Target Audience—Who Should Read This Book

The IT Executive

IT managers and executives, from director to CIO, will benefit from the content and layout of this book. Executive-level managers are responsible for providing direction, reviewing progress, and making key decisions regarding initiatives targeted at automating operations. To fulfill these management responsibilities, many rely solely upon their intuitive management skills and past experience. Lights Out serves as a reference guide and a useful resource to validate intuition and augment experience gained in different data center environments. In its pages, IT executives will find a thorough guide to decision-making, including key questions to ask in each phase of the project, from planning and budgeting through execution and fine-tuning. As a desk-side reference manual, Lights Out can be utilized to challenge assumptions, improve planning, and validate checkpoints and milestones being established as realistic and achievable.

The Operations Manager

Operations managers, tasked with managing front-line personnel and executing projects, will also use this book as a reference guide. However, the operations manager will reference this material from a different perspective. Whereas the IT executive provides direction, review, and approval, the operations manager develops the project, sets expectations and manages implementation to meet the executive's focus on the IT mission, budget, and corporate objectives. To succeed, the manager must dive into the dirty details and follow each one of the disciplines described in this book. The manager should focus particularly on technical evaluation, planning, and associated cost management. The manager must then "sell" his/her proposal to the executive(s), without raising expectations beyond realistic delivery. And if that's not enough, should he/she be successful in the sale-be careful what you ask for-the manager is then responsible to execute the plan and stick around to make it work!

Like the executive, the manager relies upon his/her intuitive management skills and past experience. All too often, one or more areas of discipline described in this book do not receive the appropriate level of attention, and the project is delayed, is underfunded, or proceeds without sufficient senior management support. Lights Out will take the guesswork out of planning, selling, and executing a successful data center automation initiative.

Infrastructure Personnel

Wherever they are located and whatever their position, all data center staff will benefit from reading Lights Out, by understanding how they can add value to an automation initiative and how they might be asked to participate. Any data center employee anticipating a pending automation project should use this book to prepare for the project. In addition, employees who think that their company should be investing in additional automation can use this book to initiate a project. In Lights Out, they will find the tips, tools, and a process to focus their manager on the right issues in the right way.

Consultants and Technology Vendors

Individuals who make a living in data center and infrastructure consulting or product and service sales will benefit from the practical advice, tips, and field-tested methodology described in Lights Out. They can use this material to validate previously used approaches and refresh their proposals. Since Lights Out is written from the perspective of the internal IT manager, the consultants and sales personnel will pick up valuable contextual sensitivity that should help them tailor communications to reflect real business issues. Lights Out deals with concerns that every thoughtful CIO and Infrastructure Services Manager will face as they consider additional automation and the investment in new technologies. In fact, Lights Out will help the consultant and salesperson to identify key questions that will or should be asked. As a result, proposals and on-going client interactions will be more relevant, effective, and productive.

The IT Management Students and Instructors

Students of information services and technologies will benefit from the practical, real-world reference materials, information, and examples contained in Lights Out. All students, full-time or part-time, about to begin an IT career or mid-career and climbing the management ladder, will gain access to the lessons learned automating data center operations in a myriad of organizations. By completing the exercises, students will develop valuable skills and understand the steps required to successfully scope, plan, and sell an automation initiative. By reading each chapter, students will expand their IT knowledge base. By discussing the materials in the classroom, students will validate their understanding versus the experiences and knowledge of their colleagues.

Instructors of IT can use Lights Out to teach the skills and processes that will be required in the real world of enterprise automation. The material lends itself particularly well to role playing, classroom discussion, and group assignments. Case studies may be developed, wherein the instructor supplies the case facts and the students use the materials to evaluate automation opportunities, scope and plan the project, develop the cost analysis, and role play the sales pitch.

Reader Assumptions

This book assumes that you understand general IT industry terms, have knowledge of or experience managing or working in a data center and supporting infrastructure, and understand the difference among mainframe, client/server, and distributed platform computing. In addition, I assume that you have basic project planning and project management experience and skills.

How to Read This Book

This book presents a methodology to plan and execute data center, infrastructure automation projects. In summary, the methodology takes you through the various phases of the project, and the chapters of the book are mapped to follow the methodology. In Chapters One and Two, the reader will define the purpose and scope of the automation project with a series of exercises that set realistic expectations, identify the problems and opportunities, and establish automation requirements. In Chapter Three, IT organization and project staffing issues and key considerations are highlighted. The details of design and a high-level project planning approach are presented in Chapter Four. The methodology suggests that the development of an effective financial strategy, described in Chapter Five, can be undertaken on a parallel track with design and project planning.

The next step involves packaging and selling the project to management. Chapter Six reviews the importance of communications throughout the project and offers a template for the final presentation prior to approval. Deployment, or a successful implementation, is described in Chapter Seven. Chapter Seven covers the post-implementation phase, which is referred to as continuous improvement.

To repeat, each chapter in this book maps to the methodology and to the symbols associated with each phase, as Table I-1 shows:

Table I-1 Methodology and Chapter Mapping
Methodology Step-by-Step Chapter Reference
Realistic Expectations Chapter One: Lights Out Exposed
Chapter Two: Gap Analysis
Chapter Three: The Organization
Executable Design and Plan Chapter Four: Design and Planning
Effective Financial Strategy Chapter Five: Financial Planning
Project Approval/Management Support Chapter Six: Communicating and Presenting the Plan
Successful Implementation Chapter Seven: Deployment and Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement Chapter Seven: Deployment and Continuous Improvement

Each chapter begins with an introductory section containing the purpose of the chapter, orientation to the methodology, a narrative of a real situation that illustrates the application of the steps described in the chapter, and key questions that are addressed in the narrative.

The material is presented in several formats to allow for different learning styles. Each chapter contains some combination of narratives, tables, and figures that depict the processes.


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