IT Automation: Where, When and How?

    The enterprise is anxious to automate as much of its data ecosystem as possible, starting with the cloud. But is automation the best solution for every challenge, and if not, how can enterprise executives determine what should be automated and what should remain under human control?

    According to tech journalist Bill Kleyman, cloud automation is one of the key drivers of business innovation. Many organizations have found, in fact, that while the cloud alone is useful in overcoming the challenges of traditional infrastructure – things like lack of scale, poor resource utilization, and the prevalence of data silos ­– problems such as resource management, visibility and cost control persist. Automating management tasks and orchestrating the relationships between resources and workloads can alleviate these issues, plus it accelerates IT management to speeds required of the modern digital economy. So in the end, the enterprise becomes more agile and more responsive to the needs of its users.

    A number of platforms have emerged in recent months promising to deliver these results for cloud-facing enterprises. CloudVelox recently updated its One Hybrid Cloud stack that aims to streamline workload mobility across internal and external resources. The system provides a new set of optimization tools, such as application-centric instance tagging, multiple security groups and role-based identity and access management (IMA), plus new system reporting and alert functions to verify successful migrations to the cloud. Additional features, due later this year, are expected to provide autoscaling and elastic load-balancing (ELB) across multiple instances.

    Meanwhile, Boston’s IndependenceIT has released a new version of its Cloud Workspace Suite designed to streamline the deployment of data, applications, workspaces and even full software-defined data centers (SDDCs) to virtually any device. Upgrades include support for key Windows platforms, such as Windows Server 2016, Azure Resource Management and Office 356, which enables users to create full Windows 10 desktop experiences and migrate them to the Azure cloud without having to pass through multiple authentication steps. As well, it provides for template-based hypervisor management and event-driven application installation and upgrades, allowing administrators to pre-define the parameters of deployment and management functions.

    But whether it’s in the cloud or traditional IT environments, the enterprise needs to take care regarding what to automate and when, says NetEnrich CEO Raju Chekuri. Some organizations are tempted to automate everything, but the fact is that even today’s intelligent automation stacks are only cost-effective when performing the rote, routine functions that recur on a steady basis. A more effective approach is to categorize all manual tasks in terms of cost, complexity, and the propensity for human error. Functions that score high on all three metrics are good candidates for automation.

    Like any technology, automation is not fool-proof. Fools are simply too ingenious. But when applied in the right way for the right reasons, it becomes a vital tool for the modern enterprise.

    As demand for faster, better and more personalized data experience mounts, the less time spent managing infrastructure and the more time spent optimizing performance, the better.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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