IT Automation is in the Spotlight at AWS Re:Invent (and OpsWorks Configuration Management is Just Part of the Story)

December 1, 2016 by Justin Nemmers

Cloud automation

Configuration management is just the start

Automation is getting a lot of attention at AWS:ReInvent this year, as people are noticing that automation is drastically accelerating the pace of innovation within IT organizations. Whether they’re part of a DevOps initiative, attempting to modernize their existing processes, or migrating systems and applications to the cloud, infrastructure-as-code style automation is playing an increasingly bigger part in these efforts - and ‘configuration management’ is getting most of the attention.

In a recent study, IDC’s Melinda-Carol Ballou predicts that the configuration management portion of I&O spending will grow at 8% over the next several years… but the predicted growth of configuration management in public clouds is north of 31%. Similarly, in a separate report, Mary Johnston Turner and David Laing forecast the Automation component of Infrastructure spending in the public cloud to grow at almost 35% - compared to just 12% overall.

The trend is clear: configuration management is seen as critical to cloud adoption and migration. So it’s not surprising that Amazon Web Services announced that it is updating its Opsworks service offering. As environments grow in size, scope, and complexity (which is the new normal in the era of the cloud), the need for automated configuration management is growing as well.

The path to complete IT automation

Configuration management, however, is just one part of the cloud automation story. There are several other critical components to a complete IT automation strategy including orchestration, app deployment, cloud governance and brokerage - to name a few. Together, these technologies allow IT organizations to service lines of business and deliver real value to their customers - whether internal or external, cloud or on-premises, physical or virtual.

Robert Stroud at Forrester summarizes this pretty well when he says:

“I&O pros must automate release, change, configuration, and knowledge flows for development, testing, and production environments; they must also automate the interactions and integration among various automation tools to eliminate all manual steps and, thus, mistakes in the delivery life-cycle process.”

In other words, just automating configuration isn’t enough. As IT organizations understand the value of configuration management, they are also likely to encounter the need to orchestrate those configurations. This is where Ansible fits in - and indeed why Ansible was created. Whether you’re interested in network automation, container creation workflows, or stringing together multiple configurations to perform a rolling update of a critical application, Ansible is designed to work with the tools you have (including a configuration manager of your choice, of course!), in the cloud or in on-premises environments you rely on, and in the DevOps toolchains you’re interested in.

It’s exciting to see the emergence of IT automation as a leading topic at AWS re:Invent - and, indeed, recognized as a critical capability for cloud migration. Just remember that configuration management is just one part of a complete IT automation strategy. While the possibilities of the cloud seem endless, IT organizations are realizing that complete automation is the key to unlocking those possibilities, and the Ansible team here at Red Hat is glad to be a big part of it.

Happy automating (in the cloud).


AWS, Configuration Management, IT Automation


Justin Nemmers

Justin is the former GM, Ansible, Red Hat. He has spent a career helping organizations transform their IT environments by adopting new and making better use of existing technologies. Over his career, he has held both technical, sales, marketing and product leadership roles at a number of organizations, including Red Hat, where he ran a large services team. He resides in Raleigh, NC with his wife and children and tweets from @justnems.


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