Hardware Automation - Motivation

Automation in and around the SDDC mostly focuses on orchestrating virtual infrastructure for certain operational processes or leveraging it to deploy workloads/services as part of bigger blueprints.

From my day to day experience the most overseen part is the key component which enables SDDC in the first place – the underlying hardware.

Your are totally right in saying that hardware should be treated as cattle and not as pets, but mostly it lacks the level of automation exists for the virtual infrastructure in most companies.

API first claims, as done by many software vendors, have not made it the hardware producing companies so far. Many of them just have started on providing public APIs to their components.

 

So, what key advantages can you expect, if you invest mostly time into automating hardware:

 

  • Reduce hardware deployment times
  • Profiling customizable settings of your hardware, i.e. BIOS/UEFI Settings to ensure same reliability and performance across your estate, which gives you
  • Less situations of unpredictable behavior (who would have though about different BIOS settings, if you try to find an issue with your hypervisor)
  • Maintain vendor supplied hardware-firmware-driver combinations
  • Ensure that rolled out firmware and configuration settings comply with the standard you have engineered and tested

 

Looking back the last years many customers were facing issues in there environment because of such configuration drifts I just mentioned above. Standardization is key here. Some of you might argue that automation would make issues available everywhere, not just in single servers. That‘s basically correct, but is in the end a quality problem of your engineering:) Apply the same engineering and testing efforts to your hardware configurations and your will win.

A lot of companies roll the server hardware into their datacenter as they will arrive from the vendor and assume the vendor has chosen the right configuration for them. How the vendor should have known what your intended workload is? But even this methodology does not ensure that the servers are using the same firmware nor BIOS configuration. Trust me.

 

The following content should give you and idea what options you have to baseline your hardware. The content will be split up in two parts: