It goes without saying that automation in the enterprise is critical to keeping up with today’s dynamic business demands. Unfortunately, automation isn't a set-it-and-forget-it process. You need to carefully monitor the environment to know exactly how much to automate and when to adjust for environment changes. To exasperate the issue, the concept of DevOps is still confusing to many and some still inappropriately equate DevOps to automation. But that isn’t stopping leading enterprises to create automation initiatives, have DevOps skunkworks projects popping up, and to name whole teams DevOps for the sake of it.
"IT organizations are taking an “opportunistic” approach to IT automation by identifying individual automation opportunities as they arise and implementing platform-specific tools to solve a specific problem. This fragmented approach to IT automation is not an enterprise-grade strategy. Nor is it scalable. It introduces increasing levels of complexity, higher TCO and lacks any form of enterprise-wide governance." - Ronni Colville, Gartner VP & Distinguished Analyst, Automation: The Lynchpin for Cloud & Data Centers
By 2016, according to Gartner, 75% of large enterprises will have more than four diverse automation technologies within their IT management portfolio, comprising any one of a number of solutions tailored specifically for the automation of one and/or multiple process types:
Of these, enterprise job scheduling and workload automation solutions continue to represent the largest percentage of the IT automation market and are continued to be looked upon by many within the marketplace as the uber automation management solutions by which to incorporate the automation of other process types outside of job scheduling and workload automation, such as infrastructure provisioning, applications release automation, DevOps and cloud orchestration. Yet for most IT organizations, scripting remains the de facto standard of automation and the starting point for adopting an architectural approach to IT automation. Whether this strategy represents the best course of action almost certainly differs from one IT organization to another, but whatever the approach there is a need to understand and document these process and the knowledge that is trapped inside of your prized resources.
Another way to consider automation’s role across the IT organization is by considering the automation of systems by their role and rate of change. Gartner’s pace layering model is a methodology for categorizing applications and developing a differentiated management and governance process that reflects how they’re used and rates of change. In the past, IT organizations have had a single strategy for selecting, deploying and managing applications. They may have had methodologies for classifying applications by value or technological viability, but they did not recognize that applications are fundamentally different based on how they are used by the organization.
The mantra of “automate all the things” needs to be overlaid with an understanding of the costs and benefits of automation. Wherever you have a scripted process, make sure the team knows what script to use for which purpose and how to update the scripts when the environment changes. The only thing worse than not automating is trying to automate too much. The end result is IT automation becomes a strategic priority that drives alignment and collaboration between organizational islands within the IT department and enables the marriage of revenue and productivity by reducing IT operational costs while improving staff productivity. All of these challenges must be dealt with in order to do automation and DevOps across your enterprise. The main risk for most enterprises today is rushing full steam into automation without first laying the groundwork for your success.