Long-touted automation benefits such as simplicity, speed, agility, and consistency might seem remote and unrealistic. However, at Dell Technologies, we have translated our decades of experience in building converged systems for customers into a software architecture that delivers on the promises of automating and orchestrating converged operations. We have validated and tested VxBlock Central Workflow Automation—both within development environments and in customer deployments—and gathered data on operational processes that were automated.
To determine the impact of automation in specific delivery scenarios, we completed several comparison tests. The following table indicates the impact of automation for several critical administration tasks:
Table 1. Automation impact on key administration tasks
Provision host (ESXi) SAN boot (PowerMax)
Using an automated workflow for compute capacity expansion, IT administrators can complete a 5-blade expansion in an estimated 45 minutes. Completed manually, this process can take one day to complete.
Create a storage volume and datastore for ESXi host/cluster (PowerMax)
Using an automated workflow to add storage resources, IT administrators can provision 30 storage volumes to an existing vSphere ESXi cluster in approximately 6 minutes. Without automation, this process can take up to 80 minutes.
Create a LUN and datastore; move VMs to new datastore (PowerMax)
Using an automated workflow to create a storage LUN and datastore, and move VMs, IT administrators can migrate 50 virtual machines to the newly provisioned storage in approximately 6 minutes. Without automation, this process can take up to 2 hours to complete.
These benchmarks illustrate how VxBlock Central Workflow Automation can dramatically reduce the time that is spent on completing compute capacity expansions on converged systems by eliminating the manual steps and reducing the number of tools required.
One of the most common requirements of IT is to expand on infrastructure assets, whether to support new applications, improve the performance of existing applications, or increase the number of users or application instances. In a VMware virtualized environment, this business need directly translates to provisioning ESXi hosts and storage volumes.
Usually, various stakeholders must address this business need. VMware administrators require spare physical resources to provision the new hosts. Those administrators probably have to ask the storage administrators to create space for new volumes, and network administrators have to manage the new entities. Automating these tasks, which would reduce the number of steps and IT staff involved to complete the operation, would significantly reduce complexity.
The VxBlock Central Workflow Automation library provides the means for automating the tasks. The following figure illustrates the steps that are automated by the Provision host (ESXi) and add host to cluster - SAN boot workflow:
Figure 9. Automating provisioning a host and adding it to a cluster