The first question that most people ask me after seeing Workflow Studio in action is:

“Wow! That’s cool, but what can I do with that?

I would like to use this post to try to explain why I think you should be doing automation in your data center today and then look at some different processes that are good candidates for automation with Workflow Studio.

Why should you automate?
The IT data center of today often includes products from many different vendors and consists of both hardware devices and software. Often, the SDKs that are available for all of these devices and software are quite inconsistent and some of your processes may have been developed by a consultant who is no longer around. Stop and ask yourself this question:

Are all of my processes consistently repeatable by anyone on the team?

If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to that question then you should be looking into IT Process Automation. And if you want an easy way to automate tasks across multiple products/components without the need for complex scripting, then take a look at Workflow Studio.

Here are some broad categories for types of automation you might want to have in your data center:

  1. On-Demand Automation - Being able to launch a process that combines several tasks, possibly with some simple user input, in response to something that has happened in your environment (e.g. A call or email comes in that a new user needs to be setup, a new application installed, or permissions modified for a user.)
  2. Schedule-Based Automation - Schedule a task to be performed at a set time each day (e.g. Restart your servers every night at midnight.)
  3. Event-Driven Automation - Automate a set of tasks based on system events (e.g. When load is increasing bring more servers online and when load decreases take servers offline)

If you download the Tech Preview of Workflow Studio (free download here) you can look at some of the sample templates we include with the product and get a look at some On-Demand Automation out of the box. The Tech Preview doesn’t really provide any help with scheduling or event management, but this type of functionality is being added to the product.

Next, let’s look at what I think are the 3 key categories of use cases for Workflow Studio and some examples that you could put in action today:

  1. Server Resource Management = Dynamic Delivery Center - Transform your data center into a delivery center by creating workflows that tie together your server provisioning process (both physical and virtual) with your web, desktop, and application delivery processes.
  2. Power Management = Green Data Center - Being able to power on/off both physical and virtual servers automatically provides the ability to better manage your resources and, ultimately, save $$ by having your power-hungry servers off when they are not needed.
  3. User Management = Automated User Provisioning - Every organization has a process for provisioning and de-provisioning user accounts, but often these processes involve multiple manual steps. Automating the process end-to-end ensures that best practices are followed in exactly the same way each time.

I hope this encourages everyone to think about what kinds of tasks you could automate in your environment. Let me know in the comments what kinds of things you would like to automate or you can find my email address in my profile if you want to email me directly.