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In a computer system or network, a 'runbook' is a routine compilation of procedures and operations that the system administrator or operator carries out. System administrators in IT departments and NOCs use runbooks as a reference. Runbooks can be in either electronic or in physical book form. Typically, a runbook contains procedures to begin, stop, supervise, and debug the system. It may also describe procedures for handling special requests and contingencies. An effective runbook allows other operators, with prerequisite expertise, to effectively manage and troubleshoot a system. Through runbook automation, these processes can be carried out using software tools in a predetermined manner.

Runbooks are typically created by technical writers working for top tier managed service providers. They include procedures for every anticipated scenario, and generally use step-by-step decision trees to determine the effective response to a particular scenario.

Runbook Applied to Operations

Operational runbooks may be tied to IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) incidents to allow repeatable processes supporting specific aspects of the service catalog.[1] The runbook is typically divided into routine automated processes and routine manual processes. The runbook catalog begins with an index of processes covered and may be broken down in outline form (e.g. 1, 1.1, 1.1.1) to align the processes to the major elements they support in the service catalog.

Runbook Automation

Runbook Automation (RBA) is the ability to define, build, orchestrate, manage, and report on workflows that support system and network operational processes. A runbook workflow can potentially interact with all types of infrastructure elements, such as applications, databases, and hardware.

According to Gartner, the growth of RBA has coincided with the need for IT operations executives to enhance IT operations efficiency measures—including reducing mean time to repair (MTTR), increasing mean time between failures (MTBF), and automating the provisioning of IT resources. In addition, it is necessary to have the mechanisms to implement best practices (for example, implement and manage IT operations processes in line with the ITIL, increase the effectiveness of IT personnel (for example, automate repetitive tasks associated with IT operations processes), and have the tools to report on how well the processes are executed in line with established policies and service levels.

Vendors in the market

According to Gartner, as of Mar 2015, representative vendors in the industry are:[2]

  • BMC Software
  • CA Technologies
  • HP
  • VMware
  • Microsoft
  • ServiceNow
  • Appnomic
  • Automic
  • Ayehu
  • Resolve Systems
  • TDB Fusion
  • NetIQ
  • Arago
  • Innovise

Further reading

  • Langston, Mark C.; Skelly, Hal (2003). Documentation Writing for System Administrators. SAGE Short Topics in System Administration. USENIX. p. 42f.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (payment required)

See also


  • IT Operations Run Book Automation, by David Williams, Gartner. May 4, 2007.
  1. Krapohl, Don. "An Integrated Approach to Organizational Transformation". AugmentedIntel. Don Krapohl. Retrieved 1 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "IT Process Automation Market Guide".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>