From machine learning to artificial intelligence (AI), it’s an understatement to say that information technology (IT) is evolving at breakneck speeds.
This evolution doesn’t come without its challenges—mixed platforms, IT services, and workflows. Moreover, these varied and complex technologies often require an IT workforce to conduct manual processes and IT tasks, leaving a DevOps team with less time to work on its company’s growth objectives.
However, with technological advances, automation software tools are now capable of giving your IT team more freedom to work on your company’s vital goals.
In other words, your company can drive more business success with a proper IT automation strategy. But what exactly is IT automation, and how can it help your business grow?
IT automation is software programming working by itself with little or no human direction or control to read and perform repeatable instructions, processes, and workflows.
Another term for this is IT process automation (ITPA).
Like ITPA, robotic process automation (RPA) is a form of business process automation (BPA), a software product that interfaces with programs on behalf of humans. Its programming and function are simpler than ITPA’s, however.
For example, programmers could program RPAs to perform manual IT tasks like data entry or batching. In essence, RPA functions as an assistant to end-users who aren’t programmers themselves.
In contrast, ITPA automates an area of technology management. First, it monitors alerts. Then it verifies, analyzes, and prioritizes them, notifying relevant people for further action.
In other words, ITPA requires skilled IT experts to oversee its more complex processes. It’s more of a behind-the-scenes type of automation if you will.
Note: Workload automation (WLA) can be viewed as a combination of ITPA and BPA. A general-purpose workflow automation solution focuses on workload balance and workflow optimization.
Above all is orchestration. While automation sets up a single IT task to run on its own, “Orchestration is automating many tasks together,” as Stephen Watts of BMC puts it. Orchestration is the automation of an entire IT-driven process.
IT automation, or IT infrastructure automation, takes a workload off your team by taking charge of repetitive, manual processes.
As a result, it reduces human errors and frees up the team to engage in creative and collaborative work. As The Enterprisers Project puts it, “Automation is key to IT optimization and digital transformation.”
According to Red Hat, automation is helpful for a variety of business needs like:
Application deployment: “IT automation allows you to deploy your applications with certainty, configure needed services from the start, and get your apps and their artifacts up and running—all via a common, transparent approach that’s understandable by all of your IT staff.”
Configuration management: A robust configuration management solution will let developers define the infrastructure (bare metal, cloud, containers, virtualized, etc.) in a way your IT team can easily understand. Simplifying the process to automate ad hoc scripts and practices for system management makes it easier to complete the job.
IT migration: Automation can contribute to faster and smoother projects during an IT migration, which will reduce repetitive manual process errors.
Orchestration: Controlling orchestrations with robust automation solutions lets you keep track of them, connect them, and run more advanced, autonomous, systems with ease.
Provisioning: “Provisioning is about heavy lifting, whether on bare metal or in a private, hybrid, or public cloud.” So what was about boxes, cables, and racks in a data center is now virtualization, from software-defined datacenters, networks, and storage to containers and virtual machines. In other words, instead of setting up these IT environments through manual templates, roll out deployments in a datacenter with automation. It works with existing infrastructure and management tools to take advantage of your current state to get to the future state you want.
Security and compliance: “Move security to the forefront of your IT processes and be more proactive with automation.” Put another way, define compliance, risk management, and security policies. Then enforce them, remediating issues by installing them as automated steps throughout the infrastructure.
By automating these workflows, you reap benefits, such as:
- Assigned task accountability
- Better accuracy
- Improved communication
- Increased productivity
- Time and money savings
First, choose business or IT processes that make sense to automate, as not all IT operations are worth automating. Some workflows won’t save you time or money, nor will they boost productivity. For example, you wouldn’t automate a process that changes over time. Also, don’t automate a broken workflow thinking the automation will fix it—because it won’t.
Second, identify low-skill and time-consuming IT work that could save you time or money or boost productivity. Your IT staff will achieve more company goals if they have time to work on them. For instance, use IT automation to help spend less time on day-to-day activities like provisioning, patching, and installing virtual machines (VMs).
Last, audit and evaluate IT automated workflows. To know if your automation is effective and successful, compare before and after metrics. In other words, key performance indicators (KPIs) will let you know whether the workflow was worth automating or not. Plus, the measurement can identify where you can optimize to get more out of it.
Get stakeholder buy-in. Focus on how automating IT processes and workflows will benefit the IT department and company as a whole.
Use the right tools. The ideal automation tools provide flexibility, simplicity, and usability. Also, it should automate at least 90% of your identified processes or workflows.
Work incrementally. Think long-term, but start small. Early and easy wins will help your team adopt the transition to automation, and it will help your company achieve its goal sooner rather than later.
- Consider employing an IT automation lead.
- Document clear, automated processes.
- Avoid automating unfit processes.
Great IT runs Blissfully™, one comprehensive IT platform to manage all your technology assets and workflows. Our robust automation features take care of repetitive tasks, saving you time and money. Blissfully IT automation features include:
- Remove offboarded employees from calendars and clear out their resources automations
- Back up email and Drive files during offboarding automation
- Lockout, backup, and delete G Suite offboarding automations
- Add or remove employees from Google Groups, Org Units, and more automations
To learn how Blissfully can help you automate some of your routine tasks and ease your workload, request a demo today.