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RackN Brings Bare Metal Into The Cloud Age

Across IT, the focus is on public cloud services and the automation required to scale on demand. Cloud automation brings a skill set that may be relatively new to people with a traditional infrastructure background. Conversely, that skill set may be second nature to people with a development background, who typically don’t have to deal with the challenge of deploying and maintaining infrastructure. What if we could have both skills?

As cloud adoption has increased, IT practitioners have needed to adapt their skillsets beyond traditional silos. The agility and scalability realized by public cloud is now in demand for enterprise infrastructure. In discussing these topics with the RackN team, I began to see how this evolution of the IT industry influenced RackN Digital Rebar to provide modern cloud automation for physical and traditional infrastructure.

Who Still Deals with Infrastructure? Everyone!

During my IT infrastructure days, I spent a lot of time in data centers. I always carried an electric screwdriver, cage nut removal tool, and cable ties with me whenever I left the house. Once I switched my focus to cloud, I saw a whole new world of possibilities open up in front of me. While I no longer need to care about things like BOMs and my tools are now collecting dust in my closet, I can appreciate the value of infrastructure.

I realize that physical compute infrastructure (aka “bare metal”) is the engine that drives both public and private cloud. Before anyone can run IaaS, PaaS, serverless, or event driven functions, an actual person had to hook something up into a rack and plug it into a UPS. That may happen within an AWS or GCP region somewhere, but many large enterprises have their own private data centers that compliment public cloud. Just like DevOps and cloud services, infrastructure platform teams are deploying and maintaining the infrastructure that is necessary to power the cloud. 

Bare Metal Provisioning is Everywhere!

Serverless is a hot topic in cloud computing, but it is just a newer method of code provisioning. All that compute power ultimately comes from bare metal servers. Infrastructure teams need to be able to provision bare metal compute in such a way that easily enables the on-demand agile services that rely on them. RackN Digital Rebar brings bare metal provisioning to the cloud era by providing a centralized, end-to-end IaC workflow provisioning model for bare metal. Infrastructure platforms involve lots of different engineering teams and inventory that is constantly changing. Digital Rebar brings this under one roof, enabling infrastructure management at scale.

Digital Rebar comes out of the box with a catalog of pipelines for managing every type of infrastructure. It has leading bare metal bootstrapping capabilities from data pre-population and discovery to out-of-band management. It also has its own unique composable IaC automation architecture to ensure that infrastructure teams know for certain that each bare metal system is being provisioned to spec.

What Happens After Provisioning Matters

Deploying bare metal systems in a consistent and scalable way is hard enough, but where Digital Rebar really shines is the management of these systems. Once bare metal systems are up and running, infrastructure platform teams are responsible for things like patching, upgrading, auditing, and security. The declarative API used by Digital Rebar makes it easy to treat bare metal systems like cloud infrastructure. It allows for fast reset times, pooling automation, and “day one” and “day two” operational modes. This makes essential management tasks like rolling updates for bare metal server possible.

Digital Rebar also solves the complexity of managing bare metal infrastructure. Auditing is much easier when you can show a consistent provisioning model backed by versatile pipelines and immutable IaC. Built in multi-site management allows for infrastructure teams to ensure consistency and reliability not just in one particular data center or team, but across an entire organization. 

Taking Things to the Next Level

RackN changed my infrastructure mindset. The amazing thing about Digital Rebar is that it enables IT to treat bare metal infrastructure as a disposable commodity. Uptime used to be a metric that proved a server’s usefulness and longevity but as systems run and are patched with layer after layer of updates, sometimes a fresh start is better for overall performance.

Digital Rebar brings these management techniques together by allowing infrastructure teams to easily perform rolling refreshes of an entire bare metal environment. Instead of servers sitting for months or even years and only managing the patching of those systems, an entire infrastructure platform can start from a new and secure baseline as often as possible.

RackN brings amazing possibilities to the world of bare metal infrastructure, but we’re just scratching the surface for its use cases. Join me in the next post where we will discuss how RackN is evolving CI/CD into infrastructure pipelines.

RackN Tech Talks 2023

This post is part of a series of Gestalt IT Tech Talks focused on RackN. You can learn more on the RackN website or watch their presentations from Cloud Field Day. The complete series is listed in order below:

About the author

Adam Fisher

Cloud DevOps Engineer at RoundTower, 10+ years in the IT industry focused on all things data center, Blogger, vExpert, Hokie.

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