Essential Elements of Application Delivery Automation
While computing has revolutionized the way automation is installed in any process, the management of software application delivery still suffers from the lack of any comprehensive automation solutions. While some solutions do exist, we need end-to-end solutions that can detect the smallest of loopholes in time.
This is not without its challenges.
Need for Automation
The delivery of a secure high-performing application presumes the availability of a number of factors. Not only do we need a sustained access to a secure network, we also need a properly configured network. In fact, configuration of network and establishing a proper security cordon has been the biggest challenge in this area. Apart from assigning IP the address, the automation system must also include the configuration of vLANs and DNS entries.
To complicate this further, we have the imperative business need for quick delivery, scale and performance. Every business today wants applications that can be developed and delivered on demand, while remaining scalable and high-performing. All this can only be achieved through automation of application delivery systems. A vital part of this is the incorporation of network configuration and ensuring the security in the delivery systems.
In automation, we introduce a standard process where every step in repeated in a precise manner. The objective here is to minimise human errors, accelerate the processes and create a reliable process that can be depended upon to provide a consistent quality in the given time frame. The elimination of manual risks, the imposition of standard tasks and the efficiency of delivery automatically reduces the costs.
Hence, the objectives of automation are:
- Minimising human errors
- Ensuring consistent quality
- Establishing a non-negotiable time frame
- Standardisation of processes
- Division of responsibility and duties
- Ensuring the efficiency of task flow
- Minimising costs
Automation of network configuration
In application delivery a major concern remains the configuration of the network. As organization become complex in terms of both function and geography, a seamless network configuration has become a challenge. The major factors here are:
Establishing connectivity: One of the prerequisites here is connectivity. We need to understand the unique network profile, particulars and requirement of each company and the various groups working in a project. Keep in mind that every software application development and the team behind it is different with different objectives. Some teams may be required to switch back and forth between their real and virtual functions; some may need time or mission specific connectivity. We also need to understand and determine the workloads and migration requirements.
Smooth flow of work: An essential function of the automation system is to ensure the smooth performance as we move from one tier to the next. For this it is necessary to assign the role, needs and duties at each level and maintain coordination. This rehires fine tuning of the distribution between the routing, firewall, security, load-balancing and switching in the host machine.
Making the system secure: In an era of intense competition, companies are extra sensitive about the security of their products. In case of application development and deployment this requirement reaches critical levels. Any application automation will need a foolproof security framework, not just at every step, but even as we move from step to the next. A security framework has to take into account firewall rules, anti-virus programs configured for multiple level probe as well as other pre-emptive security measures. Ensuring security at this level ensures that the final product is also foolproof with an armour that goes deep.
The security protocol must start from day 1 with a clear demarcation for different security functions. The protocols may be designed to isolate the development or create an exclusive or selected access. The idea here is to ensure that access and hence, security remains extremely focused and strict.
Ensuring availability: Finally, we have to ensure that the software application can be easily deployed and updated at a later date. We have to ensure that network configuration remains consistent across profiles. We don’t want extra requirement of more hardware and load-balancing pool.
With the given complexity of application deployment today we need an automation process with a dynamic network configuration that has a comprehensive security framework with well-defined protocols. It should also be easily deployed as the end user is often a regular joe and not an IT specialist.