In the era of consumer driven IT, you can even automate quality, cost and agility.
I’ve written before about how unified automation lets IT transform from managing infrastructure to providing business services that align to the immediate needs of the business, going from the legacy “push” model to the just-in time “pull” model of IT.
Today I’d like to shift to IT automation, a here-and-now technology that addresses the major pain points facing today’s organizations. Progressive leaders are starting to think of everything they do as services they can deliver to users (employees), customers, institutions (banks, etc.), partners, vendors and even government organizations.
This mentality is fostered, in no small part, by the consumer driven enterprise, the demands of which are becoming louder, and the requirements clearer every day. An example: The CIO of an investment bank told me how they just defined everything they do in the context of 74 services, with success measured against five pain points: quality, cost, agility, security and capability.
Let’s look at quality first. IT departments have a lot of pain around any service interruptions. Another bank CIO, this one in the retail sector, told me they’re measuring how many customer experiences are interrupted due to IT service outages. I’ll bet you’re not surprised to learn these service outages are expensive for the bank and aggravating for customers.
It turns out human error is often the source of IT quality problems and serious outages. It doesn’t matter whether the problem is at the network level, the systems level or the application level. Most outages are the result of human error or human misconfiguration.
Automation all but eliminates human error. It’s a prime vehicle for avoiding service outages and stopping quality issues before they happen. Once the process is correctly defined and automated, and the automation tested rigorously, you have all but erased the opportunities for human error to reduce service levels and quality outcomes.
If quality is the first pain point, cost is never far behind. Obviously budgets are stretched in most IT organizations. For every dollar spent on equipment and technology, there are $5 to $10 in operating expenses managing it. Everything we can do to streamline operations frees capital for other uses. And automation might well be the most effective way to do that.
We have customers that are very aggressively documenting and detailing their processes, eliminating those they don’t need, simplifying others, and automating everything that can be automated. I have seen savings tallied in the millions in larger organizations.
For example, one of our customers identified a large number of ad hoc end-user requests for job scheduling. It was a particularly expensive task. They attacked this cost center with six workload automation engines that powered a self-service catalog for the end-user requests. It’s now saving the company more than a million dollars annually.
Certainly the need to improve quality and reduce cost is nothing new. IT was under pressure to mollify these pain points before the consumerization trend. But just as we were making progress with the “do more with less” mantra that pervaded IT in the pre-consumerization era, along came the iPhone, Android, social media and tablets.
With automation, instead of two steps forward and one step back, these customers can continue to build on quality and efficiency gains they have invested in over recent years. But what about agility, security, and capability—the issues most likely to be pointed to as pain points by IT leaders when discussing the consumer driven enterprise?
Automation is an effective salve here, too. Agility case in point: A large entertainment company required six weeks to provision a single physical server. Working with us to implement a unified automation strategy, they reduced provisioning to four days. Better still, it now takes just one click and 20 minutes to power-up a new virtual machine. (Among their many talents, VMs are often a key technology for enabling and managing consumer driven environments).
On the security front, automation can ensure critical network routers and servers are properly patched and compliant with policy. Ditto for consumer devices—PCs, Macs, tablets, smartphones, what have you—that connect to the network. As with quality of service, most security issues also arise from human error. Every new patch that must be deployed manually is an opportunity for human error—and a recipe for disaster.
Unified IT automation addresses the five dimensions of how IT thinks about and measures the services that define the consumer driven enterprise today: quality, cost, agility, security and capability. The only thing IT automation can’t do is implement itself. That’s your job, and mine.