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How to Approach Advanced IT Automation

When it comes to advanced IT automation, technology leaders should become familiar with both current as well as future trends that may affect your organization. It is a fundamental task to make an appraisal of one’s data center infrastructure and to analyze what is being done now and what needs to be done in the future regarding IT processes. A more specific question regarding the present and the future is, how can one achieve the benefits made possible by automation? It is essential to clearly identify problems and even out areas of disruption you aim to eliminate or better manage within your datacenter infrastructure.

Some questions to begin with are, do you exclusively rely on IBM i? Or do you utilize IBM i with additional platforms? Are you in the cloud or on-prem, or utilizing a hybrid environment? Additionally, most data center infrastructures are operating with overworked staff and facing a host of new challenges including growing demand for information availability.

From the remote user simply accessing information, to the central data center infrastructure, a slew of information with a lack of organization can only provide frustration especially amongst an increase of moment-to-moment non-stop demand.

Once all problems and challenges can be clearly identified, then these issues can be prioritized and dealt with. Then, technology leaders can make positive progressive steps towards minimization or even complete removal of process inhibitors and other obstacles. This encapsulates the process of IT automation.

Defining IT Automation

First, let’s start by defining IT automation and why it’s helpful. IT automation is the reduction of manual or human intervention while using technology, essentially using technology to manage technology for an IT process with the goal of delivering and receiving data securely and efficiently with no disruption.

An IT automation “Think Tank” concept can help to identify and build an active list of specific areas to focus on and logically develop a better method of organization. This method of organization can help to arrange software tools and new technologies in order to better manage, control, schedule, alert, escalate, forecast, report, audit and trend, in order to enhance and optimize automation for applications and resources that run the organization.

Get Started With Your IT Automation Think Tank

First, list your specific and current contributing factors and challenges for 2022-2023!

When making this list, review the below as contributing factors:

  • Growing demand for your data in real time, or how to expand one’s user community
  • Adopting new applications, ERP, CRM, SCM, etc.
  • Upgrading existing applications, ERP, CRM, SCM, etc.
  • Expanding user access via mobile devices
  • Acquisition/merger
  • Migrating to the cloud
  • On premise/cloud/hybrid IT environment
  • Industry compliance requirements
  • High availability/disaster recovery (HA/DR)
  • Data/cybersecurity
  • DevOps methodologies
  • Service-level agreements with customers, vendors, users, etc.
  • Global demand for your data and information spanning across different time zones
  • Optimal use of current resources (people, technology, budget, etc.)

Keep in mind that it could be one or a combination of the above that you need to consider.

Then, review the following list to identify challenges you may be facing:

  • Monitoring critical messages and alerts for a robust production application utilized by a large enterprise and heavily used ERP
  • Missed notifications from a critical IT process, thus causing larger problems due to slow human response
  • Interdependent batch job schedules that need to run in different global/regional time zones
  • HA/DR environment needs to accommodate batch job schedules between production and replicate environments in order to optimize role swap and recovery readiness
  • HA/DR RTO and RPO objectives with advanced IT process automation requirements
  • When an application process faults, the need to issue alerts or kick-off a process on another server on a different platform
  • Running a 24-7-365 IT department, and the requirement for advanced automation so as not to miss application or process alerts
  • The need for a more efficient and secure method to schedule and successfully transfer files cross platform
  • Currently running multiple software products on multiple platforms that do the same thing regarding IT automation
  • Using an automation solution that does not meet current requirements for the enterprise and feeling stuck because of migration concerns, preventing movement to a more advanced automation solution
  • Annual IT budget
  • The need for unified visibility regarding enterprise server activity for multiple applications and multiple platforms

This is not an exhaustive list, but new challenges can be added to your specific scenario and requirements.

A Helpful Analogy for Addressing IT Process Problems

As you clearly identify current contributing factors as well as possible challenges you may face, a “reality checklist” will begin to form for your IT automation “Think Tank.” In a sense, consider it a doctor’s visit for your organization. Rather than telling your doctor an umbrella statement such as, “It hurts all over!” you can specifically address certain aspects, and highlight the areas of pain that have been the causes of frustration.
The doctor at this point would find it easier to focus all resources in order to better diagnose the nerve centers and better address the point that needs remedy. Using this analogy as a technology leader can prove to be an easier method to address the specific IT process problems one needs to tackle.

Asking the Right Questions

After going over the results of your checklist, ask yourself some questions to help prevent things from growing out of control. Some of these questions might include:

  • Is it a small adjustment to a current IT process that will fix the problem, or does my IT team require more training in the software solution currently in place?
  • Will the current problem self-correct as the result of a temporary occurrence, or is it time to look for a replacement, possibly including the addition of a new advanced IT process automation software?
  • Should I do more independent research before I begin consultations towards further action, or do I need to include others on my IT team as well as including department leaders in my organization to help identify problems?

Be sure to include timelines and identify the person responsible for each of the assigned items on the checklist. This will contribute to organizing all your objectives and track progress to achieve desirable results.

Find Problems, and Take Action

As we are aware, customers, end users, mobile devices, vendors, partners, products, supply chains, workflows, services, communications, providers, social media, current demands, future considerations, etc. are all information and data driven. Information Technology requires advanced and secure process automation. As the technology leader realizes and assesses all challenges facing an organization in a parsed down and logical manner, success grows ever more in reach.

By using the above process to create an IT automation “Think Tank” you will be able to internally gather and list current contributing factors and challenges faced by your organization. The list will grow and shrink, essentially existing in a flux. As old problems are addressed and solved, new problems appear. Further, your IT automation “Think Tank” is the ideal concept for making those active steps needed for discovering and realizing specific automation problems.