Blog: IT Automation Without Boundaries

A CAO (Chief Automation Officer) for IT Organizations?

Posted by Colin Beasty on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 @ 08:03 AM

Conversations with analysts and customers alike have uncovered an interesting trend playing out in the marketplace. Leading IT organizations are assigning automation teams and/or directors who are responsible for implementing an “architectural” IT automation strategy. The goal is to take an enterprise-wide analysis of the automation requirements of the IT organization as a whole and implement a strategy and solution(s) that unify silos of automation and streamline the people, processes and technologies.

For many IT organizations, the implementation of automation strategies and solutions typically takes place at the individual or departmental level. While sound in the short term, it presents IT operational issues for the IT organization in the long term by implementing silos of automation without thinking of the cross-departmental requirements that are at play. These uncoordinated automation solutions, implemented independently of each other, require constant revision and resynchronization in the face of change, thereby increasing IT operational costs and diminishing staff productivity and efficiency.

This enterprise-level strategy is a recognition on the part of IT organizations that a piecemeal approach to automation results in a myriad of point automation tools, each intended to handle specific tasks or process types. It becomes very costly; each tool requires a license and training. Nor are these IT automation leaders only identifying and overcoming the technological barriers. They’re also overcoming the political and process issues of identifying cross-departmental processes, collecting and mapping the enterprise-wide automation requirements and establishing both C-level and end user buy-in.

We’re starting to see these trends play out amongst our own customer base. In particular, leading healthcare and financial service companies are proving to be market leaders in establishing the methodologies associated with implementing an enterprise automation platform spanning different departments. After implementing ActiveBatch, numerous IT organizations establish the processes to ensure that the unmanaged proliferation of jobs and scripts housed across disparate servers within the data center does not continue to occur. Allowing disparate departments within the organization to continue to practice an “elemental” automation strategy is counterproductive and leaves the data center susceptible to job failures that lowers IT service levels to the business when an issue does occur.

A conversation with the IT management team for one of the largest investment firms in the United States recently underscored the importance of taking a top-down approach to automation. For this company, there wasn’t much choice. They’re leveraging ActiveBatch for the automation of processes spanning a diverse array of departments comprising their IT organization. This includes automating FTP/file system operations, runbook automation and other IT operational processes, batch processes, data center workloads and backups, data warehousing and BI workflows, and last but not least, DevOps and application release management to better coordinate the handoffs between development teams and IT operations.

This new approach means IT automation will increasingly become a policy-driven strategy that provides governance and whereby management has visibility and control. A transition is taking place within the marketplace whereby identifying and implementing individual automation tools as problems arise and addressing processes later will be replaced by a “policy first, technology second” approach, according to Gartner, and will be driven by IT automation leaders and teams.

Is this a strategy that your IT organization is adopting? We'd like to hear from you the reader; please comment below.

Topics: Workload Automation, Job Scheduling, Business Process Automation, CIOs

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