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Lets talk about IT automation

How IT operations need IT automation to help solve the challenges they are facing.

Enterprise 27,330 VIEWS
4/3/2017 9:20:28 AM
Lets talk about IT automation
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Posted Monday, April 03, 2017 by Richard Harris, Executive Editor


Lets talk about IT automation
IT departments are often faced with similar challenges: stagnant budgets and a lack of qualified applicants. Unfortunately, despite the lack of resources, IT continues to face increased pressure to push out new applications faster and make changes to existing systems quicker to stay competitive.
 
IT automation helps companies coordinate and consolidate IT operations so disparate systems and software become self-acting or self-regulating. This minimizes the amount of manual intervention needed within a workflow and reduces time spent on repetitive tasks. In turn, IT has more time to focus on mission critical work and the risk of error is greatly reduced.
 
However, all too often, automation solutions are tailored specifically for one process or application so managing multiple disparate automation tools adds to the complexity of the current IT environment. In order achieve the highest level of governance, visibility and control that IT automation is capable of providing, it must be easy for companies to connect disparate systems and processes, as well as gain a centralized view of operations at the project, organizational and enterprise level.

We sat down with Mehul Amin to learn more about these challenges and how IT operations are best utilizing automation to help remedy them. Take a look:

ADM: Who is Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.?

 
Amin: Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. (ASCI) is a provider of IT automation solutions and supports over 2,000 customers in 48 countries. ActiveBatch, ASCI’s flagship product, provides a central point of control that simplifies and automates reliable workflows consisting of applications, databases and technologies across the enterprise.
 

ADM: What is IT automation?


Amin: IT automation is the coordination of disparate systems and software workloads so that they become self-acting or self-regulating. There are many forms of automation that fall under the IT automation umbrella - such as workload automation, IT process automation (ITPA), application release automation (ARA) and automation for the preparing and staging big data / the Hadoop ecosystem.

However, all too often, automation solutions are tailored specifically for one process or application so managing multiple disparate automation tools adds to the complexity of the current IT environment. In order achieve the highest level of governance, visibility and control that IT automation is capable of providing, it must be easy for companies to connect disparate systems and processes, as well as gain a centralized view of operations at the project, organizational and enterprise level.

Another key issue that IT automation helps overcome is the problem of human fatigue. The combination of growing demand, stagnant budgets and not enough specialized talent, forces IT professionals to do more with less. However, IT automation makes it possible to automate repetitive tasks, which are often incredibly time-consuming, letting IT focus on mission-critical activities.
 

ADM: What are the biggest hurdles enterprises face when trying to make better decisions in real-time?


Amin: Organizations typically have the tools to gather data from various internal and external sources, however, they often lack the ability to uncover timely and actionable insights from the mounds of structured and unstructured data being collected. In order for analytics teams and data scientists to make better decisions in real or near real-time, as well as uncover trends and patterns that help shape long-term business decisions, they need a way make the data usable. This means prepping, organizing, staging and finally, archiving the data. This is where many data engineers turn to Hadoop.

The only way to make better decisions is if the entire IT environment works together so data is collected and analyzed in real-time. If this level of speed and accuracy is achieved, action can be taken before a problem arises, or in time to take advantage of an opportunity.
Mehul Amin
Mehul Amin, a veteran of Advanced
Systems Concepts Inc. (ASCI)

ADM: How does IT automation make it easier for enterprises to create value from big data (structured and unstructured)?

 
Amin: IT automation solutions have pre-built and tested logic to automate processes that deal with structured and unstructured data, which saves time and reduces the number of errors that come from relying solely on custom scripts. This makes it possible to quickly get the right information in front of the right decision makers. In turn, more educated decisions mean better outcomes for a company’s bottom line. However, there is still the need to link all IT automation solutions together. This need has never been more important because according to Gartner, most large organizations have three to eight automation tools in place. With all these disparate tools in one environment, it is critical that an IT automation solution can bring together business processes in a central location, with or without custom scripts. Scripting, a time intensive process that is prone to errors, is traditionally how IT connects workloads that were never designed to work together in sharing data and managing dependencies.

There are many reasons why companies want (and should) keep old scripts, and even write new ones, including already having a large collection of scripts, encountering a specific use case that requires scripting or simply having a preference for it. While scripting still plays a key role in many companies, and will continue to do so, there are certain features that modern IT automation solutions can offer that improve the usefulness of scripts. They can make it possible to manage scripts in a centralized location, access revision history and change sets, implement version control, and provide access to granular scheduling capabilities. As an example, the rapid evolution of the Hadoop ecosystem makes it difficult to properly maintain and modify scripts. However, IT automation can make it possible to automate and integrate Hadoop components (ex. Hive, Spark and Sqoop), integrated workload schedules into existing applications and technologies, as well as supplement scripts with pre-coded logic and actions.

ADM: How can such tools help app developers when creating mobile and enterprise apps?

 
Amin: Automation allows IT to flexibly add on new technologies with automated processes for building, testing, upgrading and configuring apps - all while reducing the slack time between various steps. For instance, a workload automation solution (a type of IT automation) should be able to trigger a build, deploy the build to the test environment, run the test suite and, assuming testing meets acceptable criteria, promote the build to production. If something does go wrong, necessary remediation can occur, and through monitoring and alerting capabilities, the required parties can be notified proactively. If done manually, it can be a time intensive process, however agile methodologies that are supported by IT automation are leading the way in shortening application release cycles so developers can achieve improved deployment frequency with lower failure rates.





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