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Fast, Fluid, and Flexible: Building Agile IT with Infrastructure as Code


Agility is everything in business these days, which is why we see companies increasingly moving toward a more continuous delivery of applications and services – in particular for new, mobile-first and cloud-native application services that interact with external customers. In this environment, companies must pursue an integrated team approach between development and operations to facilitate communication, collaboration, and integration. This in turn requires fast, policy-based automation of applications and infrastructure across development/testing/production. It’s an approach and set of technologies that enable you to configure, deploy and operate applications in relation to infrastructure in a very fast, fluid way. Infrastructure as code can dramatically decrease the costs associated with configuring and operating your infrastructure, while reducing the time it takes to deliver services that are critical to business outcomes.


DevOps, agile IT, composable infrastructure, infrastructure as codeThe ability to utilize software to control hardware quickly and programmatically using open, standard interfaces is a powerful concept, and in practice, it greatly simplifies many tasks. For example, infrastructure as code allows your teams to automate how you build, deploy, and manage your infrastructure. Your infrastructure becomes application code that is testable, repeatable, and versionable.


HP infrastructure is increasingly being designed to participate in this infrastructure as code approach through our adoption of open, REST-based infrastructure APIs that enable composability of physical infrastructure. Operation teams can automate configuration and provisioning of physical infrastructure through open, REST-based APIs and model-based templates. These templates encapsulate how your physical infrastructure should be built. You can then test it offline to ensure that it works. Then you can push a button to deploy a whole bunch of infrastructure very quickly.


For instance, an operations team with 12 call centers projected that it would take 60 days to configure the physical infrastructure and load the operating system to get it ready for applications. They decided to use HP composable infrastructure API powered by HP OneView. This allowed them create the machine templates – the manifest, if you will – to quickly configure a blade enclosure and connect to the right networks and storage targets. With the templates in hand, they could test the automation offline with a one-to-many approach and then just let it all flow. The time required once offline testing was complete was just one day -- not 60! That’s a tremendous savings compared to what would have been needed to craft each server within the enclosure one at a time and manually configure the connections.


Infrastructure as code is great for composing and provisioning physical infrastructure, but it can also extend programmability throughout the broader automation tool chain. For example, you can integrate HP machine templates with other configuration management tools from companies such as Chef or Puppet Labs that have been infrastructure as code pioneers. These tools need a physical infrastructure to direct. By integrating these configuration management tools with HP OneView – bare-metal infrastructure composition – you can keep your physical, virtual, and container infrastructure automated throughout the change cycle. And that includes the ability to easily update your platforms with new firmware, drivers, and software within very tight support and maintenance windows.


In addition, infrastructure as code is flexible enough to fit just about any organizational culture. If your business is adopting a continuous delivery or DevOps model, infrastructure as code is a perfect fit. But you don’t have to be a DevOps-based organization to make it work. We at HP are making all of our infrastructure programmable via REST-based APIs, so that more traditional IT operations can also benefit from this software-defined approach.


Infrastructure as code delivers the fast, fluid, flexible digital capability you need to compete more effectively – to roll out a quick holiday marketing campaign, let’s say, or a new online service to grab market share – and with far fewer worries about whether you’ll be able to make your deadlines.


You can read more about HP’s approach to infrastructure as code here.



About the author

Mark Linesch Vice President, Strategy and Operations, Enterprise Group CTO Office, Hewlett-Packard CompanyMark Linesch


Mark Linesch is Vice President, Strategy and Operations, Enterprise Group CTO Office, Hewlett-Packard Company. In this role, Mark is responsible for shaping key technology and portfolio strategies in collaboration with the HP Enterprise businesses.

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