IT Operations and security professionals are continuously overwhelmed with the number of tasks and sheer volume of work they face every day, and solutions for task and process automation have become a necessity. The question is what activities are the best candidates for automation, and what solutions should be deployed?
First let’s start with WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). The benefits of automation are enormous. In many cases, the manual tasks organizations choose to automate are labor-intensive, related to maintenance, and do not fully utilize the skills of their IT staff. Automating manual tasks has enabled my customers to shift resources from maintenance to innovation, allowing them to improve the offerings and services they deliver to their customers, and gain competitive advantage. It has also allowed them to improve deployment quality (and reduce rollbacks), offer more interesting and challenging work to their employees, improve retention when labor markets are tight, and even allow IT staff to take a weekend off every now and then. Imagine that.
I have worked with many customers over the years to help determine which activities are the best choices for automation, and surprisingly the conclusion has remained fairly consistent. Despite the evolution of deployment models (such as the shift from on-premises to the cloud) and increases in the breadth of device types managed, manual tasks related to discovery, security, patching, configuration management, compliance, software and image deployments, provisioning, and IT service management have remained excellent candidates for automation.
IT professionals should also look for solutions that are continually being invested in by the IT vendor. New user interfaces that improve ease-of-use and utilize modern technologies such as containers and microservices are a must. Simplification of key use cases, such as automated vulnerability management and patch management, should be requirements.
Automation becomes even more powerful when products that integrate these capabilities are deployed, allowing them to work together and automate not just individual tasks, but processes that span across an organization. For example, consider automation of the change and configuration management process. The ability to discover a problem, analyze it, open a change ticket, obtain approval for the change, plan and execute the remediation, verify successful implementation, and close the ticket can deliver enormous gains in efficiency and employee productivity. The time savings, reduction in labor, and speed of execution (which can be important for many changes, including those related to security), can be substantial. To illustrate, this type of integrated, automated solution has enabled one of my customers to deploy security patches in 1/14th the time it took them when they performed vulnerability management manually.
That takes us to The Forrester Wave™: Infrastructure Automation Platforms, Q3 2019, which contains additional information about how automation can help you. It describes what to look for in automated solutions for compliance, change management, configuration management, scalability, analytics and AIOps, trend analysis and automated response, reporting, and the ability to manage a wide range of devices (heterogeneity). It also states that:
- “BMC Software provides the most functionality of the all solutions we evaluated.”
- “BMC Software excelled in nearly all parts of the current offering portion of our evaluation, showing off advanced automation across myriad types of infrastructure. The solution was especially good at analytics, reporting, and compliance.”
I invite you to read the report, see why BMC was named a leader based on both the strength of its current offerings (server automation, network automation, orchestration, discovery, service management, cloud security, and more) and its strategy, and how IT automation can help you.
These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.
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