Infrastructure Pipelines: A Radical New Approach to Managing Complexity

Today, RackN released Digital Rebar v4.8, which empowers organizations to manage the complexity of distributed heterogeneous infrastructure. Introducing Infrastructure Pipelines.

Why Infrastructure Pipelines?

Platform and IT infrastructure teams need a way to reduce the time it takes to integrate new infrastructure platforms and technologies for use by the business. However, that can be a challenge because of the current state of IT infrastructure platforms. 

Uncoordinated strategies create rapid rates of change. Most times those changes neglect to consider the impact to current infrastructure. As a result, the resulting chaos slows these teams down. Current IT automation infrastructure (IA) tools should enable infrastructure teams to design and implement self-service and automated delivery services across on-premises and IaaS environments. In reality, many current tools enable an API or infrastructure abstractions. However, a goal-oriented workflow abstraction is what is teams need. 

Infrastructure Pipelines satisfy the demands of your business stakeholders by helping you:

  • Stop focusing on the minutiae of the underlying IT infrastructure and start building what your business wants.
  • Stay compliant by building composable workflows that can be quickly distributed across your IT estate. Imagine the business impact of putting high availability and security compliance directly  into the IT workflow.
  • Tame automation costs. You can reuse automation components and squash tool sprawl, avoid vendor lock-in, and build negotiation leverage with your vendors. 

Read more about the business impact in this blog post: Elevate your Business with Infrastructure Pipelines

What is an Infrastructure Pipeline?

Infrastructure pipelines, like CI/CD pipelines for code, provide a consistent, predictable, and automated end-to-end process that provisions, updates, maintains, and decommissions infrastructure.  A pipeline manager orchestrates the modular workflows that make up infrastructure pipelines throughout their lifecycle. By using IaC practices, organizations can ensure reuse of best practices and strong operational control.

“Over the past decade plus, application development has been radically transformed as the industry has transitioned from a set of disconnected components into an integrated software pipeline.

The obvious next question is when we’ll see corresponding infrastructure pipelines become standard practice as individual discrete Infrastructure as Code or configuration management components are integrated into a single, manageable toolchain.

Stephen O’Grady, Principal Analyst with RedMonk

Infrastructure Pipelines aren’t new to RackN Digital Rebar; we’ve used them to deliver on the “continuously integrated data center” concept.  But defining and running single machine infrastructure pipelines was not enough.  Our customers asked for higher level resource management lifecycle coordination pipelines.  That’s why this release expands Infrastructure Pipelines to include dedicated resource APIs for clusters and platform brokers plus work orders, our new job scheduling mode.

How do Digital Rebar Infrastructure Pipelines work?

Infrastructure Pipelines assemble various Resource Management Abstractions together to bring a machine (e.g. server, virtual machine, switch, etc) into a requested state. Workflows are the processes responsible for establishing state.

Let’s look at just one example. Imagine you need to make a server ready to join a vSphere cluster. It takes many individual tasks to prepare a server for a vSphere installation. Digital Rebar groups those tasks into stages. After that, stages are chained together to create a workflow. 

By design, Workflows are open, mutable, and atomic. They have been designed to minimize the code needed to solve a problem. 

What’s new in Digital Rebar v4.8?

This release introduces new IaC abstractions needed to deploy and manage end-to-end multi-cloud distributed infrastructure:  Clusters, Brokers, and Work Orders.

  • Clusters. These components have their own lifecycle and can act independently over a  collection of other machines managed by an autonomous infrastructure pipeline.
  • Brokers. These components provide service abstractions for clouds, virtualization platforms and pools of bare metal. They collect, release and manage machine life-cycles at the direction of a cluster.
  • Work Orders. This new job scheduling approach enables Digital Rebar to operate components as an ad hoc service instead of treating all operations as linear workflows. Clusters and Brokers use Work Orders to perform jobs that do not require configuration changes. Examples include maintenance, compliance, security and platform operations.

Other notable new features in this release:

  • SAML v2 integrations expand Digital Rebar single sign on (SSO) capabilities for multi-cloud.
  • External Secrets allow operators to seamlessly and securely integrate existing secret stores into all pipeline operations.
  • Performance tuning for over 10K servers allows customers at every scale to confidently rely Digital Rebar at the center of the infrastructure management processes.

Release notes can be found here.

Real Talk

This release of RackN Digital Rebar marks a dramatic shift in how large-scale enterprise infrastructure is delivered. Teams are now empowered to control and interact with their complex infrastructures. 

No longer do they need to cobble together piece parts from multiple point solution vendors or reconfigure the wheel each time they want to make a simple change across their IT estate. Infrastructure Pipelines create the consistent, automated end-to-end processes that make Infrastructure as Code a reality. 

The future of infrastructure is here and it is RackN Digital Rebar. 

You can try it yourself here:  https://rackn.com/trial

Learn more about the Digital Rebar v4.7 Launch:

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  1. Pingback: Scaling Up Infrastructure Pipelines with Resource Management Abstractions - RackN

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