Is there any doubt that IT personnel will need to embrace automation as they try to manage an infrastructure that increasingly includes aspects of both on-premise and cloud computing? I don't think so.
Earlier this year, I attended a presentation by Forrester Research Senior Analyst Glen O'Donnell, in which he insisted the only way to deal with added IT systems complexity was to introduce more automation into the IT environment. At the same event, O'Donnell's Forrester colleague James Staten named increased automation as part of a three-part strategy aimed at helping IT keep up with business users' demands for more agility. The other two parts: outsource commodity functions and borrow agile methods from application developers to create a more flexible architecture.
Staten's mention of agile software development methods is interesting. While agile software development has been getting lots of attention the past few years, IT operations haven't kept pace. So now IT operations are seen as a barrier to business agility. Hopefully that will begin to change in the coming year, as IT organizations begin to focus more on DevOps as an emerging discipline in 2011, wrote IT Business Edge contributor Mike Vizard. Of course this means more automation. He wrote:
That means relying a lot more on IT automation tools that are coupled with agile lifecycle management (ALM) tools to help smooth the hand-off between developers and the teams that actually manage the deployment of these applications.
As always, though, the underlying processes will need to change along with the technology if organizations hope to enjoy real benefits. Vizard shares some advice from Andrew Phillips, vice president of product development at XebiaLabs, a provider of a framework specifically designed to automate the DevOps process. Phillips says a logical first step to automating key aspects of application management is to bring together all of the relevant stakeholders to discuss the need for change and collect their suggestions.