The inevitable revolution of the IT world with Automation
What are the role and problems of a system admin?
Briefly: set up, monitor, manage, ensure stable and uninterrupted operation.
Well, do setting up and managing the system mean running the same commands and experiencing the same errors over and over again? Is it correct to run a 50-line command one by one at a time and spend 2-3 hours to get a server to production?
Let’s suppose we work in that way. How can we ensure that these 50 commands have been written correctly? Or guarantee that the config which has been done will not change. Errors can be easily detected if we manage 1-2 servers, but what if we have 20 or 200?
It takes 3 to 4 hours for a sysadmin to connect 200 servers one by one with SSH to control a config. And isn’t it just a waste of human resources? In the meantime, they could have advanced a project by contributing to the system for 3-4 hours or done more favor to the company by dealing with customer demands. Is it necessary to persist these controls one by one and continue to make mistakes or should a different method be developed?
The solution is obvious: Automation!
Automation became omnipresent in our daily life because we, as humans, are constantly making mistakes. The things we control with the eyes or do manually should now be taken over by the machines. These machines should make controls and report these controls.
To put you in context; even the Combi boiler in our homes can now be tracked with the app. We can turn it on before we get home, or if we’ve forgotten it open, we can turn it off. In a world where everything became so automated, it is our call to opt for different and new solutions in our operations.
At Medianova, we have tested several automation solutions and even used some of them for years. Recently, we have come across Ansible, which is RedHat‘s automation solution. With Ansible, a solution that any system expert can comfortably use, we could free ourselves from routine work. In the remaining time, we would focus on ways to empower Medianova much more.
What is the gain of Automation?
Before our new methods, it took approximately 3 hours to get a server to production in Medianova. Setting up the operating system, making the necessary firewall definitions, providing kernel updates, making service settings, setting up kernel performance tunings and applications have meant that approximately 50+ lines of command were written and checked within these 3 hours. In addition to the time spent, a forgotten performance setting or an application configuration can result in a bad User Experience, which negatively impacts the company’s reputation and the client’s business process.
At Medianova, we manage all our configs, applications, and services with automation and we run and monitor our system with minimum intervention. We spend all of our time on more advanced automation solutions and service quality. In fact, one of the main reasons for being agile and innovative is our success in automation. We can put a new feature to production within just 20 minutes after the necessary development tests.
Also, we do not use only Ansible for installation. We automatically receive routine reports that we visually check through Slack integration. The latter helps us send notifications of our new updates to ensure that everyone is informed. In case any problem emerges, we are able to retrieve the codes we protect on Github without any problem.
With Ansible, we provide all system management and sync, control the system periodically, and ensure that changes are detected and corrected.
In addition to Ansible’s modules, we are able to execute many performance settings, reports, checks and errors with our own bash scripts. We manage many services and configurations such as Firewall, User accounts, NTP, SNMP, fail2ban, hostname and so on. We can update the application versions in a controlled manner and report their results with slack.
Basically, there is no limit to what we can do. And what I am stating in this article is only a glimpse of it.
You can put an end to the problems mentioned above with automation. Once you launch the automation, you won’t have to worry again. Instead of manually changing the configuration on 200 servers one by one, you will change it to 1 template and turn the 3-hour job into a 20-minute job after installing the operating system.
At Medianova, we believe that time is precious and we do not waste or risk it with human errors. If control is being provided, we can take charge of all our devices and report the wrong ones, extract and analyze daily reports, while saving system specialist from 3 hours of effort for simple tasks such as server setup. We are always focusing on development and we are working to increase our service quality.
If you are still doing manual control/installation/change/management I would recommend you think again. Time to be Agile.