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Improve server delivery by looking past “time to deploy”


By Sebastien Reister, HP Senior Cloud Architect


In my previous blog post, I looked at some different ways of deciding between a cloned image or an automated scripted install when deploying an OS build.


For many IT administrators, the biggest factor is time to deploy: cloning can take few seconds versus at least 20 minutes, possibly as much as an hour, for a standard OS deployment with unattended configuration and scripting.


The difference is significant. But it is not nearly as important as you might think to improving how you deploy servers.


automation time.pngEvaluating your circumstance

Here are a couple of questions that are worth considering:

  • Do you need to be able to deliver thousands of instances simultaneously in less than a few seconds?
  • Are you building a data center infrastructure to rival public cloud providers like HP Cloud Services, Amazon or Microsoft Azure?


If you answered yes to either of those questions, you probably already know what are you doing!


But there’s a good chance you are building a cloud or automated datacenter infrastructure in a niche market or as a private cloud, using mainly legacy infrastructure and processes. This is the situation for 90 percent of the customers I work with. (Obviously, the other 10 percent are public cloud providers.) In this scenario, comparing 7 seconds to 20 minutes is not relevant. What needs to be compared is the total time to deploy a usable server versus how long it took before cloud or automation.


Where does the time go?
What takes most of the time is not the layering of the operating system, it's the pre-provisioning and post-provisioning.


In an end-to-end provisioning whatever technological approach you choose will need to spend most of its time gathering data from third-party systems (IP, hostname, configuration), update systems (change ticket, monitoring, CMDB) or modifying the server (deploying/configuring agents, reboot, compliance).


All of these actions take the same amount of time whether you use cloned images or unattended scripts. Saving a few minutes by deploying a cloned image has very little impact on the end-to-end process.


Think like a business user

One thing I have learned in my customer engagements is that how long it takes to deploy a server depends on who you ask.


When I ask the system admins, they usually they tell me between two hours and one week depending of their level of automation. But when I ask a business user the same question, the answer is almost always one day to three weeks.


Why the discrepancy? IT departments are usually quite surprised about this, until I explain where the loss of time is: mainly between IT departments who have different queues and methods to add layers upon layers before a server is ready.


In order to improve processes related to deploying servers, you need to examine the time it takes as perceived by the business user. Next time you examine how you can deliver servers faster, before going too deep into the details of the technology itself, take a step back. Look at the overall process and ask yourself: is there another way I can make a big improvement?


Learn more

If you’re interested in the impact automation can have, be sure to check out my recent HP Power to Change virtual event session, “Automate lately? The value of automation with or without cloud”. By registering for this free online session, you get practical advice about the fundamentals of automation and how it fits into a larger cloud strategy, as well as access to 15 other informative sessions.


Download the Sever Automation Standard 30-Day trial

Evaluate for yourself the productivity benefits of automation. Configure and start using HP Server Automation Standard in your organization in less than a business day and find out how many hours your organization can save, the improvements in quality you can achieve, and how you can lower compliance risks and costs. Register for the download here.

About the Author


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