Why Infrastructure Automation?

I used to kid around with my research director, Glenn O’Donnell, that my previous Forrester Wave™ evaluation on configuration management was the “Wave no vendor wanted to be in.” The term, while valid, is old. Further, configuration management is one part of a larger infrastructure automation story.

This led to an interesting challenge. If we evaluated “infrastructure automation,” what exactly does that mean? Who should it include? I came to the following conclusions:

  • Infrastructure automation isn’t just on-premises or the cloud. It’s at the edge and everywhere in between. Tools in this Wave had to treat every cloud resource, device, VM, and container as first-class automation citizens.
  • Participants had to be infrastructure-agnostic. This meant I had to omit some that focused on particular hardware — sorry, OEMs.
  • I wanted to focus on software, not service providers. There is a burgeoning automation service provider market that deserves close attention. However, this Wave would focus on tools you could run from anywhere, with anyone, to manage any type of infrastructure.
  • Integration was key. Participants had to integrate with DevOps pipelines, ESM platforms, CMDBs, and other types of automation.

That last bullet put “platforms” in the title and also led to the greatest insight. Every infrastructure automation vendor in the Wave mentioned other vendors as integration points. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Wave where everyone said they happily integrate with everyone else. It’s the clearest indication yet of how coopetive this market is.

The Results

In the end, what separates the wheat from the chaff in infrastructure automation is scalability, comprehension, and compliance. With the edge booming and risk management on the top of everyone’s mind, the ability to automate hundreds of thousands of devices in an intelligent, holistic way is king.

Check out the Wave published today, and watch this space. The market’s not done evolving yet.