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What are the most common virtualization automation mistakes?

Avoid automation issues by coordinating with the wider organization to ensure employees know how to provision resources and remain aware of evolving business needs and policies.

There can be countless issues when learning how to use automation tools to create, deploy and manage VMs, but there are three primary types of virtualization automation mistakes that could strike if you aren't careful.

The first issue occurs when virtualization automation doesn't accurately reflect business policy. Ideally, IT and business leaders should establish policies that outline how employees should provision resources, allocate licenses and handle approvals. In essence, the policy sets the workflow, outcomes and limitations so IT can then craft the scripts, templates and other mechanics to implement those policies within the virtualization automation platform.

Absent or incomplete policies can't fully support automation, and IT should update virtualization automation platforms periodically to reflect changing business policies. Implementing automation without complete, well-considered policies is a bit like the tail wagging the dog, and it can lead to poor governance and regulatory breaches -- both of which can be costly for the business.

The second issue involves errors and omissions. Automation doesn't guarantee accurate or correct behaviors, so virtualization automation can drive the proliferation of errors just as quickly as it can support correct behaviors. This makes it critical to vet and test scripts, templates and other virtualization automation mechanics while examining the system for unintended consequences, such as provisioning storage from a pool that is too expansive or that has inadequate performance for the workload type. You should test any new automation, as well as any changes to existing automation mechanics.

You should test any new automation, as well as any changes to existing automation mechanics.

The third major class of automation errors involves a lack of accommodation for periodic reviews and changes. Virtualization automation can perform each given task with startling speed and consistency, but the steps and resources that compose each task inevitably change over time. Organizations grow and change, policies evolve, regulatory goals and requirements shift, and technical infrastructure changes as new gear comes online and old gear retires.

If you don't loop relevant changes back into the virtualization automation process, an automated task might begin delivering undesirable results. A broken automation process might eventually require significant, manual human intervention to correct. Guidelines must encourage users to review and update automation at regular intervals or after business or IT changes take place.

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