Automation as a service automates routine IT tasks, such as server provisioning and change requests, helping to free up time for IT staff to focus on higher-priority issues.
Although IT spending has remained relatively flat in recent years, workloads are going up, squeezing IT resources dry. Managers are challenged by the need to meet short-term demands, while staying on top of their long-term strategies and continually modernizing their IT environments.
Because of these restrictions, organizations are beginning to see the benefits of enterprise-grade automation as a service for all kinds of IT services. Like most cloud-based offerings, you get on-demand service on a per-use basis, and some providers manage the whole process for you, which can help overall productivity and efficiency.
The Problem with Manual Tasks
Let’s say an administrator installs two high-end multi-core servers to expand the company’s resources. Sounds simple, right? Each server runs five servers in virtual machines (VMs). Those servers provide Web, file and print services, and host email and several databases.
All operating systems and applications must be patched, updated regularly and continuously backed up, without bringing down any of the VMs. Along the way, IT must troubleshoot issues that arise and, over time, reconfigure or replace some of the applications.
These two servers, running a small number of applications, present a huge amount of work when managed manually. Enterprise IT is incredibly complex, so naturally human error can be a major cause of system downtime.
The Basics of IT Automation as a Service
IT administrators rely on scripts for many repetitive tasks. But as the IT environment grows, scripts themselves take more time to create, test, modify and manage.
One solution is IT automation as a service. These cloud services take over routine tasks, such as:
- Server and software provisioning and patch management
- Continuous DevOps cycles for software development
- Service and change requests
- Security vulnerability mitigation
Once tasks are automated, IT staff can modify task schedules or start new tasks through the automation service’s portal.
Why Enterprises Are Embracing IT Automation
Automation brings consistency, quality and reliability to manual processes, and it boosts IT productivity.
Automation as a service improves IT by reducing human error and increasing efficiency. IT environments are complex, with hundreds of servers and thousands of services running in large infrastructures. Because many administrators still use a command-line interface (CLI) to manage servers and services, it’s easy to inadvertently introduce an error that can cause a server to go down or have an even greater ripple effect. Automation eliminates most of the opportunity for human error. And organizations can choose self-service, managing applications directly from the cloud, or hand over responsibility to the service provider to control and support server and application deployment. Letting the service provider handle the bulk of the work frees up time for staff to focus on more important and strategic work.
Another big benefit to IT managers is cost. An automation service’s pay-per-use model usually costs much less than staff hours devoted to manual work. Managers can also generate concise performance reports (or receive them from the service) to respond quickly to changing demands.
How to Get Started
Every potential IT investment requires some research and evaluation. Begin by reviewing services offered by well-known vendors, like HPE, BMC and ComodIT. Download their data sheets and get on the phone with a sales representative who can give you the big-picture view without the marketing spin. Sign up for a free trial and carve out some time to run a pilot test on one or two IT tasks. The same principle applies if you decide to subscribe – start small and expand as the service proves its value.