Our blog today is a contribution from Tim Grieser, Analyst and Program Vice President, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC.
Today’s global enterprises are highly dependent on IT-based services for commercial success. IT applications provide key foundations for business operations and are used to support employee-based functions as well as “back office” processes. At the same time, IT is being called upon to support customer-facing applications, often being directly accessed by end-users from mobile, hand-held or browser-based devices, over the Web. Indeed, IT is continually evolving from supporting the business to often being the business. In this context, focus for automated IT management continues to elevate from jobs and tasks to workloads, IT processes and business services. Increased levels of automation provide expanded opportunities for business development.
In the complex, dynamic on-line environments faced by many IT organizations, it is important to understand “What business opportunities does workload automation provide beyond job scheduling?” By supporting entire IT and business processes – not just optimizing the execution of groups of jobs – workload automation provides a strong foundation for supporting the demands of business growth by increasing efficiency and minimizing operational errors across a broad set of functions. Automated solutions help drive up the volumes of business transactions that can be supported reliably and can help meet the requirement of providing increasingly higher scalability. The ability to meet Internet –scale workloads and peak volumes as needed– a key factor in successful Web-based applications – is another benefit.
One of the key benefits often mentioned for workload automation is increased business agility – the ability to rapidly deploy new applications or make changes to existing applications in order to address new business opportunities or respond to customer demands and competitive pressures. By automating key repeatable processes – such as provisioning physical and virtual servers and even complete applications and business services – IT can respond quickly to rapidly changing business needs to “on demand” pressures.
Another aspect of workload automation is enabling more business-centric access to IT services such as self-service access to applications or to management functions such as monitoring workload progress – as defined in a service catalog. Indeed, extension of such automated capabilities to hand-held and mobile devices enables closer alignment of business application owners with IT operations.
Of course, workload automation solutions continue to bring benefits to the business by helping to reduce IT costs and improve service levels. These benefits include: managing workloads to minimize resource consumption and operational costs; increasing the utilization of infrastructure resources; reducing errors; slowdowns and outages for higher availability; increasing staff efficiency; and improving user productivity. The combined effects gained from adopting workload automation solutions can provide signifcant business improvements- such as agility and improved service levels – while containing costs. These benefits not only support business expansion and growth but also contribute to enhancing IT-business alignment.