Thursday, January 25, 2018

Build a Case for Infrastructure & Operation Automation Initiative

This post is part of blog post series focusing on how a company might kickstart their automation or cloud journey.
Part 1: Improve IT Service Delivery Quality with Automation
Part 2: Build a Case for Infrastructure & Operation Automation Initiative (this post)

Couple of days ago my newsfeed brought me to this paper from Gartner with title “How to Measure the Potential Value of Your I&O Automation Initiatives”. You may get access to this publication freely through this link. I found this paper is really interesting as it greatly summarized what I always try to told my customer when they want to start their automation or cloud journey. On my previous post Improve IT Service Delivery Quality with Automation, I highlighted some use cases taken by some company to kick start their automation journey, which happened to be aligned with what explained in this Gartner’s publication.

What initially caught my attention and makes me read the whole paper was the recommendations I quoted below:
I&O leaders who are optimizing operations and need to show the value of their automation spend should:
  • Justify I&O automation initiatives by focusing first on efficiency improvements in labor usage and on effectiveness gains in quality, consistency, agility and risk reduction.

Efficiency Improvements and Effectiveness Gains

On my earlier post, the first use case I highlighted was "Accelerate Delivery and Improve Consistency of Application Environments". Here I describe the use of automation to avoid manual work which eventually delivers standardized service. If designed correctly, the standardized service will have the required quality by eliminating human error when working on the tasks, consistent as the same service will be provisioned with the same (automated) way, reduce risks of having to do rework, and speeds up the service delivery as automation eliminates human resource constraint. Proven standardized service can then be consumed directly by end user through self-service interface, and frees Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) team to focus on more strategic tasks.

The second use case "Manage VM Sprawl by Automated Lifecycle Enforcement” and the third use case “Providing Secure Access to 3rd Party Vendor” are another examples on how automation can be used to take some off I&O team plates and enables them to focus on more strategic tasks. While the first to third use case can be categorized as IT Task Automation, the last use case I explained “Continuous Delivery for Apps and SDDC” fall under IT Service Automation. As you can see in Figure 3 of Gartner’s paper, IT Service Automation considered giving more business value compare to IT Task Automation. This brings us to the next important thing of doing automation: Business Value.

Delivers Business Value

It is just last week that I had a conversation with my colleague Senaka Ariyasinghe, VMware Strategic Architect base in Sydney about how customer should start their automation or cloud journey by assessing what services they need to provide, taking into consideration how frequent that service being requested, the complexity to automate that service provisioning, and what are the value of enabling agility for that service to the business. We conclude our discussion for this topic with the following figure, quick wins company should aim which give enough business value but easy to deliver, and with that hopefully will help to get financial approval from executives to run that initiative.

Platform that Automates

One last thing I would like to add, I found a lot of misconception which equates automation with having orchestration tool. This is not entirely wrong, but let me give you another opinion. Do you realize that IT Task Automation can also be provided by your platform? For instance vSphere has been for so long have this HA (high availability) capability which automates the recovery of VMs when failure happens to their host. Another embedded automation capabilities can be found at vRealize Operations, for instance automated workload balance which automates VM migration to guarantee performance. Another example of automation at platform level is policy based security consumption with NSX described on this post. Security policy being defined once and when VM gets provisioned, NSX will check that VM profile and automatically apply the appropriate security policy. These examples show that automation at platform level also able to provide quality enhancement, consistencies, risk reduction, and in some cases agility as well.

If you have come to this last paragraph, thanks for reading and hope this is useful. If you have any thoughts, disagreements, questions, please leave comments below. Have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog... Security Automation and Orchestration empowers organizations to automatically respond to security alerts. Thanks for sharing