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IaC Automation with RackN

Managing and provisioning an infrastructure entail a breadth of manual processes that not only consumes an absurd amount of time out of a developer’s workday, but also culminates in infrastructure drag. RackN makes it possible to sidestep these routine manual tasks with a much more efficient Infrastructure as Code (IaC) solution. In September, at the Cloud Field Day event in California, RackN presented its Digital Rebar IaC platform that eliminates infrastructure slack in the development process with automation, making it possible to manage an infrastructure as easily as a software.

The Dynamics of Managing an IT Infrastructure

The underlying infrastructure is scaling every day, and engineering teams are often caught in a balancing act trying to juggle an increasing number of responsibilities within the 9 to 5 window. There are servers, storage systems, backup systems, firewalls and so many other components to keep track of, and all that continually widens the scope of their work. And since no two infrastructures are the same, the complexity involved is brain-numbing.

What enterprises need is a flexible operations experience just like DevOps’ – reusable codes that can be recycled and repurposed over and over, and passed down, skills and information shared from team to team, because how great would it be if the Ops teams too could have the same repeatability. They could then catch a break from the pain of doing things from scratch all the time!

RackN’s Approach to IaC

Rob Hirschfeld, CEO, RackN says, “We see IaC as a way to look at operations as process over silos. And that can be work silos but it’s also tool silos. Things like Terraform weren’t designed to integrate with the tools up and down the chain from them, and so we really worked to address that. We’re not trying to displace them, we are actually helping to integrate them.” Same with people.

Originally, RackN is an Infrastructure as Code company that builds the software that clients use and manage themselves. In the recent years, RackN has shifted its focus more toward supporting the full lifecycle requirement that is emerging among customers. This covers everything from first time booting to cluster building. A lot of the capabilities that they have added in the last two years is surrounding orchestration as that’s where RackN saw the highest demand. The focus is Day 2 operations.

Among new developments, RackN has launched Integrated Labs which is not only a great way to explore their Digital Rebar platform, but also get hands-on training on IaC with RackN and non-RackN products. RackN has also improved its VMware automation piece with more easy installs that make VMware Day 2 operations even more seamless and consistent. RackN has also worked on making air gap install easier with newer methods. Generally, the focus has been consistent on bigger scales.

Full Life-Cycle Management with Digital Rebar

Rob Hirschfeld, CEO and Co-Founder of RackN gave a presentation at the recent Cloud Field Day event. But instead of going the usual route of detailing the feature-set of RackN, this time Hirschfeld addressed the obscure pieces – the architecture and philosophies, explaining how the system really works at the technical level. The session was followed by a couple of demo presentations where him and Chief Solutions Architect and Founding Member, Shane Gibson showed off Digital Rebar in action with tools like Ansible and Terraform.

RackN takes a software development approach to automation, which means reusability is at the heart of it. Digital Rebar’s automation packages can be reused more than once, and across all customer bases. The automation is portable and composable so that customers can use the same modules for Day1 and Day2 operations in the public cloud, on-premises and at the edge. This allows them to leverage all updates, patches and new features from the automation layer.

Digital Rebar is a “full life-cycle distributed IaC platform” that delivers a common base of operation across infrastructures. As part of the full life-cycle journey, Digital Rebar automates infrastructure provisioning, whether its in the cloud, edge or colo. It then configures the systems, again, without any human intervention and performs Day 2 operations all in a smooth and seamless flow. Coordinating all these individual pieces into bigger systems, it operates them centrally as groups.

Thus, from creation to delivery, it handles the entire life-cycle management, handing off to the customers a working infrastructure with all its applications and components.

Once the cycle is complete, the journey starts back again with resetting, reconfiguring and rebuilding of the infrastructure, all of which can be fully automated on Digital Rebar.

Wrapping Up

RackN breaks down the silos that exist between tools, processes and teams in IT, making it possible to share, swap, connect and reuse workflows flexibly. It takes off the brunt of serial work from the developers saving teams time, effort and money. With an automation solution like Digital Rebar, the complex lifecycle management shrinks down to a set-and-forget function, no matter where the infrastructure is hosted. So even when the teams are focusing on specialized tasks, the cycle continues without interruption, with just an IaC template.

For more, check out RackN’s other presentations from the recent Cloud Field Day event.

About the author

Sulagna Saha

Sulagna Saha is a writer at Gestalt IT where she covers all the latest in enterprise IT. She has written widely on miscellaneous topics. On she writes about the hottest technologies in Cloud, AI, Security and sundry.

A writer by day and reader by night, Sulagna can be found busy with a book or browsing through a bookstore in her free time. She also likes cooking fancy things on leisurely weekends. Traveling and movies are other things high on her list of passions. Sulagna works out of the Gestalt IT office in Hudson, Ohio.

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