In a world dominated by connected devices and applications, there is increasing pressure on IT to deliver services that match the needs of users. The scenario in most enterprises is that IT departments and budgets have not been able to keep pace with the technology they service. Hybrid cloud, bimodal IT, device proliferation, data explosion and security threats have all brought enterprise IT to an inflection point. IT can be the key differentiator. However, IT is stuck being tactical as it continues to use tools that require much manual intervention and effort. For IT to be the differentiator, it is strategic to automate IT operations due to the flexibility it brings into IT operations. Several technological changes and the evolving business world have made IT operations automation inevitable.
Technological changes that are an impetus for IT Operations Automation
The changing technology landscape is the catalyst for IT operations automation, and it enables enterprises to innovate dynamically and stay in the race. Some of the technological changes that act as a thrust to this automation are:
Applications of the future require more than orchestration. They need to be dynamic – rapidly, seamlessly, and transparently adjusting resource consumption, with no human intervention. Cloud computing – be it public, private or hybrid is the answer to highly variable demand. Cloud computing provides today’s enterprises the agility of a start-up while taking care of the security and compliance requirements. They demand flexible development platforms, cloud-native applications and a DevOps tool-chain that supports agile build and deployment. IT operations automation makes it possible.
With employees increasingly using mobile devices, enterprises stand to gain by providing access to on-demand data and advanced capabilities that empower, inform and engage them. They need mobile apps built for their specific job roles, with the additional ability to interact with other role-based apps, preferably built in-house. IT operations automation forms the basis for these mobile apps.
Enterprises need access to safe storage that is easily accessible, to enable them to make decisions on the go. Virtualization is the answer. It helps improve security, ensures faster time to market, facilitates the integration of public and private clouds and lays the foundation for increased productivity through rich mobile experiences.
A software-defined infrastructure (SDI) takes over where virtualization and automation capabilities leave off, providing the agility, speed, and performance needed for today’s enterprises. Software-defined storage solutions consolidate storage elements that allow for the strategic use of storage using automation. Software-driven intelligence enables templated workload composition and frictionless operations.
Business Intelligence is a combination of technology, processes, and people that enables faster, better-informed business decisions. It allows for the quick transformation of information into data, data into insight, and insight into action, made possible with IT operations transformation. IT operations automation enables the collection of data across the organization that can be used to design better strategy, execution, and measurement. It also provides business leaders timely access to structured and unstructured data that can help them make better and appropriate business decisions.
IT automation and where it is finding acceptance
IT automation is defined as “the use of instructions to create a repeated process that replaces an IT professional’s manual work in data centers and cloud deployments. Software tools, frameworks, and appliances conduct the tasks with minimum administrator intervention. The scope of IT automation ranges from single actions to discrete sequences and, ultimately, to an autonomous IT deployment that takes actions based on user behavior and other event triggers.” A few instances where automation is making its presence felt are:
Using automation in silos does not help scale or standardize it across the enterprise. Workload automation only acts as a differentiator if it is data analytics-driven, resulting in intelligent automation. Workload automation provides the agility, speed, visibility, and scalability needed to respond to the constantly changing technology landscape. It ensures data-driven event automation resulting in continuous operations with zero downtime and allows forecasting based on data collected or probable scenarios.
Workflow automation allows the routing of service requests and incident reports to the right people, where requirements can be checked off. It enables better management of resources, increasing productivity and alignment of IT with business goals. It provides a dashboard view of all activities and databases, user requests and IT assets, giving you complete control of your operations.
IT Process Automation:
IT process automation enables automation of different processes, to improve QoS, increase capacity, and reduce the cost of hiring, by reducing the instances of human intervention. IT services running on run-book-based operations are ideal candidates for IT process automation. IT process automation works best when you have captured data regarding events, activated rule-based dynamic workflows, distributed tasks based on knowledge, followed it up through escalation channels, and executed it remotely providing real-time indicators.
What you gain by automating your IT Operations
Mobile technologies, cloud computing, data analytics and other emerging technologies along with IT operations automation have exponentially improved the chance for business innovations to take shape and bear fruit. A few advantages of IT operations automation are:
An agile business
Digitization has profoundly increased the speed at which business models change. Unless IT keeps pace with this constantly changing business environment, it can be detrimental to the business. IT can only keep pace if it is agile and automated.
Increased service availability of IT
A recent study reports that North American enterprises lose $700 billion a year, as a result of outages. An outage results in productivity, revenues and customer confidence, all taking a deep dive. Intelligent automated IT automatically identifies the cause of the blackout and in most cases, also fixes it. It also dramatically reduces the frequency and duration of an outage.
Automated processes do things repeatedly and reliably. Tasks done at regular intervals like configuration and provisioning when automated can save time, costs and help achieve higher accuracy.
Automated processes increase visibility over the IT landscape, manifold. They provide an instantaneous view of what’s going wrong and where allowing you to stay up-to-date with compliance requirements.
Impetus to Innovation
IT departments are now partners in the business, helping them remain competitive and ahead of the herd. Automation of IT operations frees up resources from the drudgery of keeping the lights on and provides them the time to innovate. It also acts as the catalyst for speedy implementation of innovative business models, required to keep pace with changing technology and customer preferences.
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Organizations would do well to incorporate automation into their IT operations, on their journey to an IT operations transformation, to remain agile, be able to change course mid-stream and stay ahead of the technology and competition, at all times.