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How Automation Can Pave the Way to Cloud Maturity Success

Runbook automation can help take digital operations from reactive to preventative and free up developers’ time for innovation.
Jun 13th, 2022 9:53am by
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Cloud migration is a foundational part of modern digital transformation projects. That’s why spending in this area will exceed $540 billion in 2022, up 21% from the year before, according to Gartner. Yet projects often fail.

Inga Weizman
Inga is a product marketer focused on driving go-to-market and partner activities at PagerDuty. She has 15 years of experience in the high-tech and software industry across the SMB and enterprise space, and has launched multiple products. Prior to PagerDuty, she was a marketing consultant working with startups and has also worked at Loggly, Fastly and TrueAccord.

One study revealed that 90% of CIOs have experienced failed or disrupted migration. The people, process and technology challenges that can lead to such failures stem from spiraling tech complexity, siloed teams and the adoption of microservices.

It doesn’t have to be this way. More effective digital operations management with automation will enable organizations to adapt for a cloud-first world. But to get there, organizations must break down the monolith and adopt new tools, new processes such as DevOps and service ownership, and new technologies.

Automation can help to resolve incidents without human intervention or without pulling away critical resources. It allows first responders to solve issues and only pull in developers when they are needed. With the right tools in place, organizations can scale and operate without compromising customer experience. Automation is the quickest way to optimize incident response, free up developers’ time and ensure cloud migration success.

The Future’s Cloudy

Cloud adoption continues to accelerate, with organizations adopting microservice architectures and moving to the cloud to take advantage of greater agility and to build cloud native applications moving forward. Gartner claims that over $1.3 trillion in enterprise IT spending is “at stake” from the shift to cloud, rising to nearly $1.8 trillion in 2025. It says that in four critical categories — applications, infrastructure software, business process services and system infrastructure — over half of IT spending will have migrated to the public cloud by the end of this year.

It’s easy to see why. Organizations migrating their workloads expect to see reduced IT ops and maintenance costs, as well as enhanced scalability, flexibility and IT/business agility. By doing so, they can not only serve internal users better, but also create improved experiences to gain and retain increasingly tech-savvy and demanding customers.

Breaking It Down

At the heart of the cloud value proposition are microservices — small building blocks for applications that have enabled widespread adoption of continuous software delivery and DevOps processes. The problem is that they also introduce complexity. With traditional monolithic web applications, there’s only one centralized team handling issues and alerts for incident responders to contend with. This team handles monitoring, which means developers that build the services aren’t responsible for resolving issues if an application goes down.

However, if that same app were deployed as a series of containers, a host of new different processes would be required. The challenge facing digital ops teams is monitoring these and other issues to stay on top of potential issues. As applications migrate to the cloud, IT ecosystems will only become more complex.

The complexity will only increase as hybrid cloud strategies evolve, alongside the use of existing on-premises infrastructure. Research claims that 80% of enterprises now have a hybrid cloud strategy. But as this develops, the number of dependencies will rise, and new applications and services will be deployed at pace.

This means more incidents are inevitable, turning the heat up further on IT ops teams. One study observed a 19% year-over-year growth in critical incidents from 2019 to 2020, with users experiencing 9% more off-hour interruptions and 5% more business-hour interruptions.

Mapping a Pathway to Success

So how can organizations chart a course through this complexity and toward cloud migration success and operational maturity? The answer lies in leveraging effective, safe runbook automation to help take digital operations from reactive to preventative and free up developers’ time so they can spend more time innovating and less time dealing with issues.

This can help make cloud migration a success in two key ways. Firstly, runbook automation can facilitate the delegation of task automation. Despite the promise of the cloud, automation isn’t considered to be something safe to make broadly available to every single user. Organizations typically have concerns around the cost and security of opening up the automation of cloud operations to the masses. But this often means teams have to submit tickets and requests. A task that could take minutes ends up taking days to be fulfilled by a centralized team. Operating in ticket time means these organizations are losing the agility of the cloud.

Through runbook automation, engineers can standardize task automation through existing cloud automation, scripts, commands and tools. This facilitates the delegation of task automation by ensuring safety and compliance with authentication, access control and privileged access management services.

Secondly, users can turn manual, repetitive tasks into automated processes. Runbook automation streamlines workflows by automating tasks, such as restarting servers, copying artifacts or manipulating files, and delegating them to the right people. This enables responders to do more. Issues can be resolved and escalations can be decreased because users can run operations themselves through self-service functions. As a result, the number of incidents and toil is reduced, enabling teams to work on high-value tasks such as product development.

Automation is set to play a huge role in the future — 52% of organizations plan to invest in automation in the next 12 months, while 23% rank automation implementation as the top driver to cost optimization. Accelerating cloud adoption and taking full advantage of cloud scale and agility can’t be done without automation. It helps cloud operations to run faster by enabling teams to develop and delegate automated processes, but it also reduces toil and burnout across teams. Automation ensures recurring requests are resolved without human intervention or handled by first-responders, enabling development teams to have more time to innovate for the customers, driving more business value and helping to reach digital maturity.

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