By Nikhil Taneja, Managing Director – INDIA & SAARC, Radware
Businesses are continuously looking to adjust IT practices to improve operational efficiencies and reduce overall costs. The operational processes of current data center environments create numerous challenges.
This includes an increasing number of devices and solutions in the data center across multiple geographical locations, complex solutions comprised of several technologies with cross-dependent configuration and solutions that integrate with one another.
The virtualization of the data center adds another layer of complexity in managing and maintaining appliances and applications. The application is hosted in an environment that includes multiple form factors such as physical standalone appliances, modular chassis-based solutions with integrated modules, and software based virtual appliances. The flexibility and ease of deployment for virtual versions of applications introduces the challenge of managing and maintaining your application instance inventory at all times.
More solutions and technologies are continuously being added to the application delivery infrastructure. Tools are available to accelerate web content, offer application-level security, and perform high-speed encryption/decryption. Business policies need to be centrally defined and applied to all of the policies through the solutions equally and consistently. Data center operators need to manage, synchronize and maintain configurations and policies across multiple devices, even as these devices are added and removed in the newly created virtualized environment.
The challenges of management and maintenance are highly relevant to L4-L7 services, including application delivery controllers (ADC). Automation becomes a critical requirement for such services to simplify and streamline the operational control of these services. When a new application is deployed and it is necessary to onboard multiple ADCs in multiple data centers as quickly and as reliably as possible, ADCs often perform high speed encryption/decryption, so it’s important to obtain reliable and clear status of the SSL certificates across a range of ADCs and services (and being able to execute SSL related actions as a result). The increased complexity and integration of application delivery technologies highlight the need for automation.
Enhanced Lifecycle Management with Operator Toolbox Productivity Tools
For as long as data centers have existed, automating and streamlining the processes and operations of IT infrastructure has been a critical priority for IT organizations. Businesses want to reduce their operational expenses via the simplification of operational tasks. Automation reduces the expertise necessary to carry out these functions and minimizes the introduction of human error.
With APSolute Vision and its embedded Operator Toolbox, customers can benefit from greater productivity while receiving the following benefits:
• Reduced application spin-up time to market
• Error-proof configuration & maintenance tools
• Reliable and easy configuration of complex services
• Increased IT team productivity
• Reduced capacity planning risk
The Operator Toolbox allows ADC and security customers to benefit from a complete toolset that provides advanced automation and productivity capabilities. This results in the streamlining of complex operations and the automation of recurring tasks. Operational teams are no longer required to have the advanced technical expertise required to manage and support the advanced application delivery and security solutions. The automation of the workload reduces the introduction of mistakes and human error to the recurring operational processes. All of this results in reduced operational costs and improved operational efficiency.
Extensible Automation with Operator Toolbox
Operator Toolbox enables streamlined execution of complex operations, automation of common recurring tasks, and the reduction of manual errors and overhead associated with administrative tasks. Operator Toolbox uses the integrated Radware vDirect management technology to execute vDirect Configuration templates based on a shared script repository. This mechanism allows the ADC administrator to automate an array of ADC-related operations to substantially increase the operations staff’s productivity.
A library of tools is provided with the delivery of the Operator Toolbox. The most common tasks that are used to operationally support the application delivery and security solutions for end-to-end application support have been identified. Scripts are created and delivered as simple tools that can automatically execute these tasks without the need for extensive training or advanced technology knowledge.
Most companies need to make adjustments based on their specific application requirements or for customized applications that are unique to their business. The set of tools that are delivered with Operator Toolbox can be modified to meet the customer requirements. Customized tools can be created by the business to support their unique applications and operational processes.
Turning Manual Operational ADC and Security Processes into Automated Tools
Operator Toolbox transforms the traditional manual service management approach into an automated process managed via an intuitive UI that doesn’t require any familiarity or expertise with the managed solutions. The expertise and knowledge to manage the advanced ADC and security services is built into the tools and scripts available through the easy-to-use Operator Toolbox UI.
When a new instance of a service or application is deployed, the Operator Toolbox tools will guide the operator through a graphical wizard that asks for the unique parameters of the service, such as IP address, server name, and SSL key. The bulk of the service configuration is standardized based on application and business requirements. All of these standardized components including load balancing algorithm, security policy, SNMP management, and global variables are automatically added to the solution configuration.
This process simplifies and automates the delivery of application and security services and eliminates the potential for certain configuration steps to be forgotten or misconfigured. It becomes impossible to have inconsistent application and security deployments because the Operator Toolbox takes the manual variability out of the process.
Complex and advanced services can be managed by the operational team without the expensive and extensive training necessary to make them application delivery and security experts. The advanced functions and knowledge to enable them in the IT infrastructure is built into the tools that operational staff have access to via the Operator Toolbox. The operations team only needs to understand which tool to execute for a service to be enabled and updated.
This eliminates the need for the operations team to escalate configuration and management questions to the subject matter experts (SME) and architects. Reducing the number of escalations and total time spent improves the operational efficiency of the IT organization.
Automation Equals Cost and Resource Savings
Businesses can see immediate benefits and cost savings when implementing the Operator Toolbox. Tasks that were time consuming and prone to error are immediately converted to automated processes. Over time, businesses can modify the tools to meet their specific IT requirements to deliver increase savings.
The automation of operational tasks can reduce the resources and time spent managing ADC and security services up to 95%. This reduces operational resources required to manage other tasks and services while increasing IT agility and freeing resources for other projects.
The standardization of the advanced tasks via templates and scripts enables organizations to deliver complex services faster and more efficiently. The potential for error is reduced or eliminated and large portions of the delivery process can be managed by team members that are less skilled since the complexity of the task is built into the Operator Toolbox scripts.
Adding Interoperability through REST API
Thanks to a comprehensive REST API, APSolute Vision exposes its entire functionality of vDirect and Operator Toolbox to third-party portals and data center management/automation systems. With APSolute Vision’s REST API, customers can gain programmatic access to any report, chart, table or screen which appears on APSolute Vision Web-based management (WBM). The APSolute Vision REST API works in concurrence with the APSolute Vision WBM and enforces shared-device locking to prevent concurrent configuration modification.
Businesses are building more advanced and complex IT architectures to support their application delivery requirements. The support of application delivery and security services for these architectures can be both costly and time-consuming. IT executives are looking for tools to simplify the operational management of these solutions and reduce the overall costs to support the IT infrastructure.