How Automation Can Decrease Toil and Break Down IT Siloes
Silos in modern IT organizations have made the technologies and tools used to manage complex IT systems difficult to access and use across technical teams.
The teams that manage these tools need the ability to use and distribute these tools as needed. However, the fragmented nature of their tool stack makes the execution and scalability of task work quite difficult.
Automation can provide a more sophisticated approach to getting tools to work together, especially when deployed as an orchestration layer for teams across the organization to use.
For businesses, this could make IT more responsive and efficient by reducing toil, improving collaboration and reducing operational errors.
Automation Is a Priority
In most organizations, Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) teams sit on the front lines when it comes to managing systems and maintaining resiliency. This often means executing repetitive, manual tasks involving the configuration, deployment and management of critical services on an ongoing basis.
Technical teams usually have automation tools they use for systems management, however, these tools are not widely available to other teams. Therefore, incidents and requests from other teams manifest as interruptions and can make I&O teams feel like they are always in firefighting mode.
New global research reveals the direction organizations are moving in to tackle such challenges. Although increased use of cloud technologies (41%) and business process automation (42%) are high on the IT spending priority list, IT infrastructure automation and orchestration come out on top (47%).
The Challenge of Skills and Scale
The average IT organization uses hundreds of tools, covering everything from application development and delivery to on-premises infrastructure management, cloud provisioning and cloud native architectures. It is difficult to find staff with the specialized skills to effectively manage such stacks, especially at a time of unprecedented volatility in the job market. The result? IT silos are filled with a diverse set of tools that can’t talk to each other and are extremely challenging for non-specialists to use.
These experts often have a backlog of tickets assigned to them and can be pulled into incidents when their subject matter expertise is needed. This results in slower response times, longer request queues and a greater likelihood of service interruptions. I&O teams are less responsive, have less time to collaborate effectively with business users, and even less time to work on innovative new offerings that could drive competitive advantage.
The Way to Automate
To address this, organizations must first understand what IT operational processes exist, then create workflows needed to automate them. The focus should be on safely democratizing access across IT domains. Whenever a member of an I&O team automates an operation of workflow or creates a unique process that others can use, the operation/process should be shareable with all other stakeholders.
There are multiple ways to do this, from IT service management to AIOps and DevOps. Yet their use remains limited to specific IT domains, perpetuating the challenge of IT siloes. And many of the workforce productivity tools on the market today, which enable cross-enterprise collaboration, have limited compliance controls and integration capabilities.
Delivering on the Vision
First, each IT domain should analyze the processes, activities and tasks used for performance and improvement. Any seen as repeatable at scale and potentially beneficial for colleagues’ use should be shortlisted for automation. These workflows must be standardized and published so they can be used as on-demand, self-service resources by stakeholders.
Fortunately, many vendors are already delivering on this vision of a shared IT automation platform. Their tools include a graphical design environment that allows engineers to rapidly compose automated workflows that use API calls, commands and existing automation points, integrations with common operations tools, and technologies and pre-built libraries of workflows for common IT activities.
An automation strategy like this will transform siloed tools into toolchains, making the journey to digital transformation a smoother one. Processes can be executed by more than just subject matter experts, reducing backlogs, improving IT quality and efficiency, and enhancing resource allocation. For many, that will be the road to competitive advantage and success.