IT automation is a set of instructions that are used to define the method of executing repeated processes that eliminates any sort of manual work erstwhile performed by IT professionals. Software, applications, technology stacks, and frameworks all combined execute tasks that do not require any human intervention.
If we look at the span and scope of IT automation, it ranges from a single action process enhancement to a complex IT deployment, which is related to user behavior and other trigger points. The terminology IT automation and IT orchestration are distinct, but they are used in tandem. Automation is about executing a task through tools or machines, whereas orchestration is more about coordinating various automated tasks into a seamless process.
How does IT automation work?
IT automation’s modus operandi is simple. It uses software tools, frameworks, and other machines to execute tasks that are repetitive in nature. For instance, an automation platform such as Windows PowerShell consolidates and combines all cmdlets, variables, and other components to a script, which further emulates a series of instructions that otherwise an administrator would do it manually by going through each line item.
What is IT automation used for?
IT automation has numerous applications, however, let us look at some of the more prominent use case scenarios for the same.
- Application deployment
- Security and compliance
- Incident management
Benefits of IT automation
Automation in every field comes with its set of merits and demerits. Though IT automation process will ensure faster data center and faster operations on the cloud with improved security. However, along with expediting the process, IT automation should also investigate addressing errors. Even with all the processes and errors around, there is a high possibility of overlooking these aspects, irrespective of the benefits mentioned below.
Reduction in operating costs
The first benefit of its automation is the known fact that a machine can execute tasks of three to four people. Moreover, deploying machines help in reduction in heat, thereby resulting in significant energy saving. This is over and above the reduction in labor cost.
Improvement in the safety of workers
Automated processes and tasks, can eliminate the involvement of any workers or laborers, thereby reducing the risk of their life and ensuring their safety.
IT professionals are humans in the end. Hence, there is always the possibility of committing an error, even if it is unknowingly. This can happen in complex processes and sometimes in monotonous processes as well. However, with machines, the possibility of error is negligible to zero because the machines are programmed to perform the same task repeatedly, without errors. However, this requires multiple rounds of testing to be done to ensure that the process is error-free.
Having taken off IT professionals from performing repeatable tasks, an organization can utilize their expertise in more strategic initiatives. This further reduces the cost significantly because now the IT team can concentrate on areas that can help in the future success of the company.
Automation systems are completely dependent upon the specific requirements of organizations. Hence, implementing them has an immediate impact on the return on investment due to more output, less cycle or processing time, and reduction in operating expenditure.
From a manufacturing sector point of view, there are a few specific benefits that IT automation provides. Let us look into these benefits:
Having manpower work 24×7 can result in faster wear and tear of the labor. However, with a machine, it becomes easy for a machine to operate in a 24×7 mode, thereby resulting in better and increased production output.
Less dependency on outsourcing
Automated processes create a scope of increased inhouse production capacity, thereby resulting in reduced or rather negligible dependency on the outsourcing model, where manufacturing units outsource the production of some parts to other manufacturing units.
Increase in productivity
Having IT automation in manufacturing set up yields in
- Production capacity running 24×7.
- Accommodates Just in Time manufacturing seamlessly.
- Enhances real-time communication by using automated cells and machines.
Better system flexibility
- Automation helps to easily reconfigure and retool the system easily, for accommodate new requirements
- IT automation in the form of robots can be easily redeployed depending upon changing production environment
- The ability of robots to adapt to new processes faster
- Does not take a long time to switch over.
Consistent delivery & quality
Automation brings about tremendous consistency in the delivery and in quality. This is because machines are programmed with specifics, including the quality metrics, thereby resulting in consistently delivering output with the defined quality.
Challenges of IT automation
While we have gone through the benefits of IT automation, both generic and specific to the manufacturing sector. However, there are challenges in going for IT automation. Implementing IT automation does not mean that you get confirmed results; there is no guarantee to that. Even with all the tools and technology frameworks available, there is no assurance that these systems will prove to be foolproof and remove errors, enhance security and ensure adherence to compliance. IT teams need to have the necessary competency to use the automation tools that are deployed across the organization.
Future of IT automation
One fact is clear that IT automation is not a new concept. It has been in existence for quite some time, however, the technology that is an integral part of IT automation is in a very nascent stage, but constantly evolving. If we look at some of the most sophisticated tools today, it still requires an IT professional or a team of professionals to develop and maintain such discrete systems, comprising scripts, templates, policies, and workflows.
IT automation is bound to march forward bringing a larger amount of intelligence. There is going to be a heavy dependency of automation tools on artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Any IT automation system that is merged with AI reduces the significance of man-made rules of automation; thus, creating a dependency on choices that are directed by high-end business costs and stringent compliance needs.
Automation is a key component in the process of digital transformation. Different stakeholders of an organization, such as consumers, employees, investors, partners, and other similar stakeholders, who are engaged with the organization constantly, demand digital transformation that helps in delivering an exceptional experience. According to a forecast by Gartner, around 40% of the infrastructure and operations team will be using AI-powered solutions, by 2023.
Any type of innovation, if implemented effectively, will free up manpower so that it can be deployed for other high priority or strategic activities. This further helps in improving security, increasing ROI, and reducing errors across any organization. Additionally, by identifying that can be automated, organizations have the leverage to spend time where they actually want to – that is driving business growth.
However, it has been observed that in spite of having so many benefits of IT automation, project owners or decision makers end up shelving such initiatives and putting them on the back burner. This is purely due to the fact that they might have encountered some early setbacks. Some of the common obstacles like complex IT environments, and improper strategy can bring the entire automation initiative to a standstill.