by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

An automated infrastructure is the future of innovation and operational efficiency

Published January 19, 2015


From the corner office, it’s easy to see how disruptive technologies change the competitive landscape. The latest trends in mobile and big data empower organizations of all sizes to innovate and adapt more than ever before.

How are organizations keeping up with the pace of technological change? The reality is that efficient development practices are what propel leading companies forward. It’s these practices that support and strengthen organizational strategies, sound architectures, and the pursuit of fewer time-consuming, repetitive tasks in an IT infrastructure.

Effectively changing development practices to keep up with customer demand starts in IT management, according to Prolifics, an IBM Premier Business Partner.

“One of the things that we found is that people try to save money through the development cycle, but they don’t think about the fact that the decisions made during the development phase have an impact on the variety, complexity, and differences in the environment. This, in turn, brings greater complexity to maintenance of the underlying environment,” says Mike Hastie, Vice President of Technical Sales at Prolifics. “If you don’t think about it holistically, it will end up costing more.”

A developer’s mindset is that they don’t want to waste time with administrative things when they can just go out and quickly test something, get their answer, and move on.

Brad Hertenstein, Brand Leader and Enterprise Architect, Prolifics

To facilitate this holistic approach, IBM launched the IBM PureSystems product family in 2012. To custom fit the approach to each individual client, Prolifics, took it further with Prolifics Pure Simplification. This solution enables Prolifics’ clients to simplify and automate application deployment and ongoing maintenance using custom-built patterns.

Pure Simplification further automates deployments
IBM PureSystems was introduced with the promise of rapid deployment time and simplified management. One of those products, IBM PureApplication System, specifically integrates middleware capabilities and optimally deploys and runs business applications using patterns of expertise. IBM PureApplication System can be run on premise, on the IBM SoftLayer cloud platform, or as a hybrid system. The platform enables organizations to effectively respond to changing business needs through optimized workloads, automation, agility, and cost reduction.

“Middleware can be difficult to deploy,” says Brad Hertenstein, Brand Leader and Enterprise Architect at Prolifics. He explains that, for organizations that want to lower costs and become faster and more nimble, IBM PureApplication System cuts down on deployment time and allows organizations to build environments quickly, efficiently, and in a way that eases the process of reproducing that environment.

Prolifics’ Pure Simplification solution brings together three key elements to help an organization custom fit IBM PureApplication System to its unique IT environment: IBM PureApplication System Technology; prebuilt, custom patterns; and expertise in operational efficiency.

Prolifics’ team focuses on the development of infrastructure patterns that tackle the complexity of their clients’ middleware infrastructure and, in many cases, increase the productivity of star developers. These patterns enable true automation by building environments from the ground up, and Prolifics’ expertise helps clients adopt process changes internally that are necessary to fully leverage the platform.

Patterns free IT to focus on innovation
As opposed to simply cloning a virtual machine, IBM PureApplication System allows organizations to take virtualized system images and install and configure software components through automation. This ensures the components are fully operational and know how to talk to one another. Furthermore, through the automation, these systems can be built from the ground up and remain completely clean each time, which allows IT personnel to remain unbound from a specific version of a product or system.

While running a series of scripted operations, organizations can construct an entirely clean and fully operational environment each time the pattern is deployed by using the versions and patch levels of the software components that exist in that moment in time. Additionally, with a built-for-the-customer version of the operating system, which is configured to match the specification of the client, Prolifics is able to run the pattern against the environment and take the human touch out of the equation.

Removing the human touch is deliberate, says Hastie. Traditionally, a more complex development cycle results in an increase in the size of the support team and the organization’s dependency on certain individuals Hastie calls “IT superheroes.” These IT champions are the only individuals who know the system well enough to adequately navigate through the minefield of the IT infrastructure, which leaves the organization at risk from human error and high operational costs. In addition to the increased costs, organizations also lose out on future innovations because their champions are tied up in often mundane, but critical, tasks.

The knowledge of those IT superheroes becomes part of the pattern and part of what happens automatically, freeing them up to innovate.

Mike Hastie, Vice President of Technical Sales, Prolifics

As Hastie indicates, “Organizations are dependent on these individuals, but it’s not innovation they’re tasked with, it’s the ongoing tasks that keep organizations functioning. They miss due dates, projects have to wait, and the real cost of IT goes up significantly because you tried to save in the first place.”

Through patterns, organizations gain the ability to capture that tribal knowledge and make repeatable templates of the environments that then allow them to automate the process through the infrastructure creation—taking the dependency on IT professionals and their availability out of the mix.

“The knowledge of those IT superheroes becomes part of the pattern and part of what happens automatically, freeing them up to innovate,” says Hastie. “Most IT organizations have stuff they just cannot get to in terms of innovation, change, improvement, or whatever, because those people are tied up and the organization doesn’t want to spend any more, as they are already spending a lot to keep what they have going.”

Developers need to be able to iterate very quickly, adds Hertenstein. “A developer’s mindset is that they don’t want to waste time with administrative things when they can just go out and quickly test something, get their answer, and move on,” he explains.

Gain visibility and improve confidence
With a fully automated infrastructure, organizations can change the way IT tasks are completed. Test environments can be pared down and completely rebuilt with the touch of a button and extra capabilities can be added and automated. Additionally, new environments can stand up next to previous ones, which allows for easy validation and stability checks—and a new environment can also be seamlessly reverted back to the previous one in the event of a problem.

“The smarts of PureApplication is the system management center,” Hertenstein explains. The ready-to-go system is complete with a management console that allows the user to configure different types of software and load patterns, again, with just a push of a button. A user can “direct the output of the management center toward PureApplication to build there or [the center] can be used to build patterns elsewhere, like SoftLayer,” to test the waters before making an investment in the entire system.

This gives organizations added visibility into the process and improved confidence in the solution, reduces risks, increases confidence in the ability of the IT department, and provides the added benefit of having many irons in the development fire at any given time, without overworking operational personal.

Whether a large global institution or a startup, organizations across industries and of varied size can realize benefits from automating the configuration of their middleware environments. Solutions like Pure Simplification empower these organizations to shift IT focus and investments from maintenance to innovation, propelling their businesses into the future. From retailers who find advantages in auto-scaling and elasticity, to larger organizations that can coordinate their resources, to startups that are focused on proof of concept and pilot projects, there are a huge number of benefits and, while IT operations is not often considered first by organizations, it’s worth a deeper look.

For more information about Prolifics, visit



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