The IT Operations world is no more what it used to be. With the advent of a host of new technologies and frameworks like DevSecOps, PaaS, FaaS, containers, hyper-converged and software defined infrastructure, and with the recent acceleration in the adoption of these offerings, the infrastructure and application support world has drastically transformed. In this article, I will share my experience in using automation to keep up with the demands of this dynamic IT world of today and managing the challenges associated with it like scaling, security and availability.
The business demands of today’s world are very challenging. The customers have become extremely knowledgeable and are the ones who are driving the transformation required for businesses. A customer of today expects the best service you can possibly provide as he now has more alternatives than he has ever had. Organizations which keep up with these demands are the ones who are reaping benefits of the digital world of today.
Some traits that are found in the solutions/services delivered by these successful organizations are,
Agility in the processes which enables delivering frequent, incremental services
Flexibility to course correct quickly based on learnings from the field
User Experience centric design to ensure effective and simple delivery of the service
A robust support function which can rapidly resolve any customer issues
Less to no impact to services when the demand goes high
With this amount of expectations, automation is emerging as a key business need which almost every organization must invariably adopt. With human force being an expensive option and the fact that is also comes with its limitations when there is a need to scale with accuracy, automation is now more than just complimenting an organizations workforce.
IT space is one such area which has had a large impact by the adoption of automation. From a small sized to a large organization, IT plays a key role determining the success of a digital business. Consistency, availability and scalability are the key areas where automation can contribute heavily. With efficient automation in place, an organization will be able to build the capability to repeatedly execute a job with minimum errors. For any organization, automation is applicable at different levels and it requires a robust strategy to be put in place to be effective.
Types of Automation
In the IT world, there are different ways to categorize automation, but one which I find is very simple and effective is to classify based on the evolution of automation in an organization.
This can be as follows,
Task Level Automation
Scope is small targeting specific steps in a process. and well defined. Mostly is a low impact deliverable in nature but is a good place to get started as it enables a culture of automation and is a mandatory first step towards adopting automation
2. Process Level Automation
Natural evolution from task level automation where the scope shifts from a specific task to a bigger process. The ROI (return on investment) tends to be quite high. When implemented effectively, the value it generates resonates well within an organization
3. Release Automation
This might or might not follow a process level automation phase as it is driven by an organizations appetite to move closer towards DevOps. When adopted, it tends to make an immediate impact towards the UX for the employees as well as customers as it can shorten the time to market for a service
4. Intelligent Automation
An evolved state of automation driven by Machine Learning, Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence. This can be considered as the gold standard when talking about the automation evolution and effectiveness for an organization. A solution which falls in this category is usually a high impact solution and often has a large ROI associated with it
Automation is a great partner to move ahead with for an organization when it wants to either scale its operations or wants more value for its investments. Building a dedicated automation team to drive the automation movement in the organization is a big favor an organization can do to itself. This team can initially be focused on identifying and implementing the required automation and in time can become a Centre of Excellence which is able to influence and drive automation in other teams.