Why Operations Management Must Be Automated
IT operations is increasingly complex. Data must be managed across on-premises and cloud-based data centers, dependencies must be passed across disparate platforms, and new tools and technologies must be integrated and configured.
The need for rapid change and real-time data makes it increasingly difficult for IT to rely on hard-coded properties, custom scripts, and manual processes. In order to save time, increase reliably, and reduce complexity, IT teams must amplify their use of process automation.
“I&O leaders are investing in automation tools and technologies in response to organizational demands for speed and efficiency. The adoption of automation technologies is observed across multiple domains, including network, release management, cloud and IT operations, indicating a broad push to increase I&O’s speed and efficiency using automation.”-Gartner, 2019-2021 I&O Automation Benchmark Report
Top 5 Benefits of IT Operations Automation
- Efficiency – Instead of waiting for an admin to manually provision virtual machines, automation software can be used to dynamically provision and deprovision VMs based on workload needs.
- Reliability – Minimize human error by automating routine, repetitive tasks like updating permissions or configuring servers, and reduce the frequency and severity of outages.
- Flexibility – IT automation solutions often provide direct integrations and low-code API accessibility, enabling IT operations teams to quickly deploy and implement new technologies, or to assemble new, cross-platform processes, without having to create custom scripts.
- Visibility – By automating the monitoring of processes and systems, IT operations teams can collect data to optimize processes and resources, monitor and improve SLAs by redirecting resources to workloads at risk of overrunning, and automatically address failures with auto-remediation.
- Productivity – IT operations teams are able to accomplish more with fewer resources, relieving pressure on over-stretched staff and providing more time for IT to focus on long-term strategic goals that align with the business.
Business needs are rapidly evolving.
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Building the Foundation for Modern IT Operations
“The dynamic nature of digital business infrastructures is pressuring infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations to support rapid application change and dynamic infrastructure scalability, and provide insights…. The continuous change and feedback loops needed for digitalization will change organizations’ monitoring, automation, service management and organizational strategies.”-Gartner, Predicts 2019: IT Operations
Automating tasks and processes saves time, boosts productivity, and reduces failures. But there’s more to the story. While automation enables IT to accomplish more with less, IT I&O teams still have room for improvement, ie, optimization.
Technologies such as artificial intelligence, low-code REST API adapters, and no-code development platforms are quickly evolving, enabling IT to create dynamic, flexible systems that can almost take care of themselves. As customer expectations and market demands continue to change, IT operations teams will need to leverage these new capabilities in order to stay ahead of digital transformation trends and competition.
Orchestration and Infrastructure-as-Code
Universal connectors, direct integrations, and the ability to seamlessly execute APIs (.NET assemblies, RESTful services, command lines, stored procedures, etc.) –that’s the foundation of orchestration, the ability to integrate and manage virtually any process from a single location.
Orchestration tools abstract away the complexity of underlying scripts, enabling IT to assemble end-to-end processes that manage related interdependencies regardless of the underlying technology. This makes it possible for IT to automate and manage processes across on-premises and cloud-based systems, or between multiple cloud services in order to prevent vendor lock-in.
Additionally, by orchestrating automated processes from a single location, IT professionals can integrate provisioning, configuration, and permissioning tasks into end-to-end processes using infrastructure-as-code. And, because these processes and systems are centrally managed, monitoring can be extended across the enterprise.
To effectively manage and optimize complex environments, IT organizations are using artificial intelligence to identify bottlenecks, delays, and failures before they occur. By collecting and analyzing vast volumes of data, AI tools can trigger auto-remediation workflows and redirect resources to prevent CPU overloads and process failures.
Additionally, using AIOps solutions provides visibility into all applications and system dependencies, drastically reducing the mean time to repair (MTTR) in the event of incidents.
AIOps has tremendous value when its benefits and use cases are extended to the automation environment. Operations and devops teams require flexible IT infrastructures that can quickly adapt to dynamic, real-time demands.
Hyperautomation leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to discover and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Most organizations take an ad hoc approach to use automation, deploying multiple automation tools, leaving a lot of manual tasks left to be automated. Those holes in the organization’s “patchwork” automation can be filled by taking a unified approach to automation using low-code process development and intelligent orchestration tools.
Automated processes can then be simplified and optimized, completed in less time and with fewer errors and fewer resources. AI and ML algorithms can coordinate computing resources, analyze historical and real-time data, and take automated actions to prevent delays.
When the organization has automated as many tasks and processes as possible, it becomes much easier to quickly develop reliable, end-to-end processes that support new or evolving business goals. By coordinating a range of tools with a single, unified solution, organizations are able to quickly react to evolving business and market demands.
Is NoOps the Future of IT Operations?
Technologies such as AIOps, cloud computing (SaaS/IaaS), and hyperautomation are giving IT departments the ability to drastically reduce the number of manual processes they are responsible for, with the potential for self-operating, fully automated environments becoming possible.
A NoOps strategy includes the use of intelligent automation tools to fully automate day-to-day operations, along with AI or ML to handle higher-level, more time-consuming tasks. Business team members and developers would then be able to execute processes on their own through a self-service portal, and provision resources using infrastructure-as-code. Operations would be effectively hands-off.
“Cloud providers are continuing to climb the stack; rather than simply providing everything from the “hypervisor on down,” they are now—through their own focus on hyper-automation—taking on many core systems administration tasks including patching, backup, and database management, among others. Together, these capabilities create a NoOps environment where software and software-defined hardware are provisioned dynamically.”-Deloitte, NoOps In A Serverless World
As it stands, NoOps is more of an ideology that what can be automated must be automated, in order to drastically reduce time spent on routine tasks, and to focus more resources on the software development lifecycle to meet business demands faster. But NoOps presupposes cloud-native IT environments and doesn’t address evolving data regulations, new technology needs, and IT service management. So while it is technically possible to create a NoOps environment in the cloud, it likely won’t stay NoOps for long.
As one of the writers for the Deloitte article was later quoted as saying, “NoOps is not really attainable but it is an effective rallying cry.”
Business is changing. Technology is changing. IT is changing.
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