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What is event-driven automation?

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Event-driven automation is the process of responding automatically to changing conditions in an IT environment, to help resolve issues faster and reduce routine, repetitive tasks. 

Event-driven automation helps connect data, analytics, and service requests to automated actions so that activities—such as responding to an outage or adjusting some aspect of an IT system—can take place in a single, rapid motion. Automating in an “if-this-then-that” fashion helps IT teams manage how and when to target specific actions. It also helps manage the complexity of hybrid cloud and edge environments, while freeing teams to focus on other priorities.

An event refers to any detectable occurrence that has significance for the management of IT infrastructure or the delivery of an IT service. Events are often identified by third party monitoring tools, and typically indicate significant occurrences or changes of state in applications, hardware, software, cloud instances, or other technologies.

Managing and responding to events can be challenging, because the circumstances of an event and the necessary response can vary drastically across an IT environment. One type of event may require a swift and deliberate action such as shutting down a technology—as in a security risk scenario—while another type of event may simply be a notification that an application is exhibiting signs of stress. Event-driven automation solutions should be flexible enough to specify the best course of action for a wide range of events and be able to adapt to new event types that emerge over time.

In an IT environment, being event-driven means connecting data and service requests to automated actions, so that manual steps typically taken by IT teams can happen in a single automated workflow. 

Event-driven automation allows systems to initiate a predefined automated response when an event occurs. For example, a system outage can trigger an event that automatically executes a specific action—such as logging a trouble ticket, gathering facts needed for troubleshooting, or performing a reboot. Since these actions are predefined and automated, they can be performed more quickly than if the required steps were done manually. 

Similarly, event-driven automation helps teams perform a variety of additional Day 2 operations, such as configuration management and the resolution of drift issues; edge device management; provisioning; tuning and scalability across storage, databases, and applications; and user management.

Take a deeper dive into event-driven automation

As organizations strive to use automation more strategically across hybrid cloud environments and edge locations, they often start by automating IT actions that are central to management and service delivery. While automation can increase the speed and agility of these processes—and minimize human error—some events still require manual troubleshooting and information gathering, which can delay resolution and disrupt everyday operations. 

Event-driven automation can help teams move from a reactive to a proactive approach to IT management—and streamline IT actions with full end-to-end automation. Solutions with event-handling capabilities extend the use of automation across domains, processes, and geographies, which advances automation maturity by ensuring operational consistency, resilience, and efficiency.

Event-driven automation enables a faster IT response—such as shorter mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) for outages—and does not require a team to take manual actions that often prolong work days or occur during non-working hours. Event-driven solutions can be used to automate service ticket creation, fact gathering, and response steps that are invoked when a change is detected on a targeted technology. With increased observability of events and responses, teams can proactively address potential and recurring problems.

Event-driven automation can help IT teams to:

  • Select ideal tasks to automate, then allow IT domain experts—such as a network engineer—to flexibly apply automation to key needs. 
  • Build existing operational knowledge into automated decision-making and actions.
  • Complete repetitive tasks efficiently and deliver services more quickly.
  • Reduce low-level tasks and use valuable resources for other priorities.
  • Address festering problems rapidly, before they become urgent issues.
  • Automate repetitive tasks for networking, edge, infrastructure, DevOps, security, and cloud.

Getting started with event-driven automation begins with identifying repetitive, mundane tasks that IT teams complete manually and frequently. Some common use cases include:

Automated remediation
The solution to a specific type of issue is often a repeatable series of steps. Event-driven automation can connect the analytics or tickets that flag an issue to the automated steps that will resolve it. This means that teams can automate the resolution of tickets, the remediation of issues based on known system-behavior patterns, or the response to monitored events—such as an alert that a system needs more capacity. 

Ticket enrichment
A common issue with ticket management is that tickets do not include enough information to enable effective root cause analysis (RCA). Event-driven automation can be used to reach out to relevant systems, gather data, and update corresponding tickets with the rich detail needed for a more thorough RCA process. 

Automated platform scaling
Application workloads and platforms rely on automated provisioning to ensure business continuity and reduce the potential impact on customers. Rather than waiting for manual provisioning, IT teams can combine capacity and performance metrics with event-driven automation to automatically provision containers, cloud infrastructure, virtual machines, and other technologies. In addition to automated scaling, events from application workloads can also trigger development and test environment provisioning to accelerate the innovation process.

Risk mitigation
With event-driven automation, security responses can be launched as soon as a risk is identified. For example, if a risk is identified on a firewall, an event-driven solution can immediately close down the firewall and create a service ticket, reducing the opportunity for exposure to a security breach. Event-driven automation can help ensure that outages are addressed quickly—but it can also proactively watch for signs that lead to outages, preventing further issues in the future and ensuring IT stability.

Automated tuning and capacity management
Ongoing tuning and capacity management are necessary for many IT functions, such as managing web applications and monitoring storage pools. For some teams, tuning occurs thousands or tens of thousands of times per month, making it time-consuming when done manually. Event-driven automation can respond to these types of events based on predetermined rules—to address things like low storage capacity—and trigger automatic adjustments. By taking the manual steps out of this tuning process, teams can be more efficient, cost effective, and available to respond to other critical business needs.

Scaling automation
As with tuning, it can be burdensome to manually scale applications’ storage, processing, and network bandwidth to meet user demand. For example, an event-driven automation solution can monitor buffer pools, automatically adjusting sizes as limits are reached.

As a part of Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform, Event-Driven Ansible provides the event-handling capability needed to advance end-to-end automation and automate time-consuming tasks for any IT domain. 

Event-Driven Ansible is a scalable, responsive automation solution that can process events containing discrete, actionable intelligence. It allows IT teams to determine the appropriate response to a particular event, then executes automated actions to address or remediate the event. 

IT service management tasks—such as ticket enhancement, remediation, and user management—are ideal starting points, but Event-Driven Ansible is flexible enough to automate a variety of tasks across your IT environment. Event-Driven Ansible connects analytics to automated actions, improving the resilience and responsiveness of IT, while freeing teams to focus on more valuable work.

Event-Driven Ansible can help you:

  • Accelerate innovation. Free teams to do their best and most critical work, so they can help deliver better value to the business from IT.
  • Implement event-driven automation more efficiently. Write automation rules via Ansible Rulebooks to provide response instructions, using the human-readable YAML language. Embed Ansible Playbooks if desired. Make changes when needed. Note that Ansible Rulebooks are similar to playbooks but use if-this-then-that conditional formatting to enable responses to events as they occur.  
  • Boost speed and responsiveness. Address problems rapidly, before they become urgent issues. Improve mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR). Reduce low-level tasks to optimize the use of valuable resources for other priorities.
  • Work flexibly. From source to rule to action, use a modular design to apply event-driven automation across your operation. Subscribe to many event sources. Write rules that implement actions in the ways you want.
  • Adapt across IT domains. Automate repetitive tasks for networking, edge, infrastructure, DevOps, security, and cloud with a unified automation platform.
  • Ensure consistency. Codify operational knowledge in Ansible Rulebooks to respond in the same way every time. Minimize human errors that are often caused by high-volume, repetitive tasks and tired staff.

Red Hat Consulting can help you get started with Event-Driven Ansible by providing expert coaching and hands-on assistance to address the unique needs of your organization.

Ansible Automation Platform is a comprehensive automation solution built on open source innovation and hardened for your enterprise—so you can boost productivity and reduce time-to-completion for new projects. With a Red Hat subscription, you get certified content from our robust partner ecosystem, access to hosted management services, and life cycle technical support that allows your teams to scale automation across your organization. And you’ll get expert knowledge gained from our success with thousands of customers.

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