A look at Network Automations Automate 9: Last month I wrote a post titled “Is Automation Killing the Engineering?” For this post I want to explore the idea that it is not the automation that might be killing the engineering but rather how far and good some of the 3rd party application are in pretty much doing the work for you. One prime example of that concept is Network Automations’ AutoMate 9.

AutoMate 9 by Network Automation is automation solution for the mid-market by giving you the ability to have an easy to use end to end solution for consolidated automation and task management all without having to write a single line of code. A great deal of the automation could be done via homemade scripts which take a great deal of time and effort to create and maintain.

AutoMate has the ability to save you that time and effort by providing an incredibly easy drag and drop interface to develop the automation workflow. This no code development area is the Task Builder.  The Task Builder will let you develop workflows for VM Operations as well as Guest OS Operations with the difference between the two is the VM Operation will let you connect to connect to any of these platforms to run the automation.

  •          VMware ESX
  •          VMware ESXi
  •          VMware Server
  •          VMware Workstation
  •          VMware Player

AutoMate_Task_Builder

AutoMate also has the capabilities to use “Tiggers” for event driven automation in real time. Tiggers, simply put are objects that watch for specified systems events and or conditions to occur which will cause or trigger an automated task to run. Conditions are closely correlated with the system, application, and network events that transpire across the automation network. In addition to the events themselves, conditions also encapsulate state changes that events produce. For example, the appearance of a file in a network share is an event, and the existence of that file is a state. Both the event and the state are conditions- the event is “when the file exists” and the state is “if the file exists.” From these conditions or events in the logs, multi-step corrective action tasks can be created and deployed given you automated problem resolution.

AutoMate reminds me of another product I worked on several  years ago, Tripwires’ vWire except Automate has a lot more functionality and ease of use by not having to worry about creating the code to run the automation. Back during the vWire days I would hear from people that having the ability to react to events or log entries sounds promising but I never really heard of too many people that would really invest too much time in that area being more concerned with the idea that certain issues can trigger the same event in the logs and each of those different issues that triggered the entry in the logs could need different steps or procedures to resolution.  Times have changed and so has virtualization in general in that automation is becoming the way forward for virtualization and or cloud computing.

One thing I really like is that AutoMate will connect to several different VMware products but I really am a little perplexed that VMware vCenter Server was not on the lists of products with which it will connect and work.  I think the product will have some resistance in acceptance until at least vCenter Server is added to the matrix.  I personally would love for AutoMate to work at an even higher level and provide VMware host automation as well as the virtual machines.  One specific use case: it would be nice to provide automated workflows for the hypervisors themselves for staged planned reboot of the hosts. That could come in really handy for autodeploy environments, once a new image or change in the image has occurred and recycle of all the hosts are needed.

One of the best things, I think, about AutoMate is the ability to have no code to create the automation.  The drag and drop development looks really nice and easy to use which can really help to save time and effort.

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Steve Beaver (160 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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