For IT operation and the management of heterogeneous system landscapes, companies with mature IT structures need valuable resources. IT departments are faced with high expectations: They are indispensable for IT operations and digitization, and not only for implementation but in the best case as a source of inspiration and sparring partner for the business areas. This also changes the requirement profiles for employees: Knowledge of agile project management, cloud computing, machine learning, security, and license management are required. This, in turn, requires time and resources for further training and qualification of employees, for recruiting and the movement of junior employees.
At the same time, however, the security and stability of all systems must be guaranteed around the clock – and this is where the stumbling blocks for companies with an established IT infrastructure and process landscape lie, keyword: legacy. Hardware, software, and processes were built according to previous needs and adapted and developed over the years. The integration of new software solutions, whether on-premises or from the cloud, makes work in separate areas easier but makes the IT landscape even more heterogeneous.
IT operations: Often, There Are No Funds For Innovations
Therefore, the effort for IT operations and infrastructure devours time and money in the most tightly staffed IT departments. Manual configurations, service requests, tickets, and troubleshooting – according to a Capgemini study on IT trends 2018, over 45 percent of the IT budget was spent on the operation, maintenance and care. Less than 15 percent of the budget was left to implement innovation, so instead of launching new projects, too many resources are tied up to keep traditional IT processes running. How can the IT forces urgently needed for digitization be released?
External support, cooperation, and outsourcing are not just options, but in most cases, essential. Classic offshoring, however, has its limits. Outsourcing processes to low-wage countries can save costs, and your own IT can also be relieved. But there is still a relocation. Manual processes do not get any better. Actual improvements and savings based on automation, as offered by offshoring service providers in some cases, are too often “eaten up” in practice by additional services or necessary adjustments.
Productivity Gained Through Outsourcing To Cloud Providers
It is different from outsourcing to cloud providers: Cloud computing not only enables the scalable, calculated use of storage and computing power and, especially in the financial sector, makes a “machine park” of servers that are designed for peak loads, but oversized for normal operation, superfluous. Since standard maintenance processes have already been created in the cloud, there is a real gain in productivity when used; the effort for infrastructure management is reduced.
Younger companies and start-ups that rely on digital processes and the integration of external cloud services right from the start have a clear advantage in this regard: They benefit directly from the automation of the cloud platforms, unencumbered by the management of existing systems landscapes.
Automation As The Key To Efficient IT Operations
However, for companies with established IT structures, the following applies: Automation is the key to managing the IT infrastructure. According to the “IT Trends 2020” study by Netwrix Research, the automation of manual tasks is one of the focus topics for 53 percent of the IT professionals surveyed – this is second in the top ten IT priorities after data security.
There are various approaches to automating IT operations that can be combined and adapted to the company’s specific needs. The cloud mentioned above management services on the cloud platforms of the major providers plays an essential role. The “Infrastructure as Code” approach comes into play here, programming instead of configuring, and actions are stored directly in the source code. The use of self-services also takes the strain off the IT administrators. IT service management software and DevOps tools are available to automate the in-house structures.
Significant Fluctuations In The Degree Of Automation
Nevertheless, the automation of IT operations is not an easy task. For example, the “IT Trends 2020” study by Capgemini shows significant fluctuations in particular areas when evaluating the surveys on the degree of automation. The automation rate in infrastructure management initially rose from 43 to almost 50 percent between 2015 and 2017 – only to drop to 36.9 percent by 2020. According to the explanation of the study, this is partly because the automation mechanisms used via cloud providers are not taken into account; the actual rate should therefore be higher.
The other reasons listed are likely to be familiar to many companies:
- Technological diversity of application landscapes.
- Automation of only particular areas.
- Organizational hurdles.
- A lack of willingness to change processes to automate them consistently.
Learning systems and algorithms are also rarely used.
Machine Learning: Processes From A Helicopter Perspective
Experience has shown that this is exactly where the greatest potential lies when it comes to not only mapping your processes but optimizing them. Even a classic process analysis and evaluation of the experience of the long-term IT supervisor helps. What is important here is an overarching view of the processes, overcoming departmental thinking. Machine learning also works as a different kind of meta-level: Special programs follow the typical processes and procedures of the system administrators. Artificial intelligence enables correlations and connections that would otherwise not be recognized by human users. The software “learns” from this and automatically takes these relationships into account.
However, such applications have to be specially programmed, adjusted to the processes in the company, evaluated, and repeatedly adapted. This cannot be done alone with scarce resources, which is why most companies seek external support for such complex projects. In addition to traditional advice, innovative approaches that combine project and talent management are recommended, especially in the IT area characterized by a shortage of skilled workers, such as the talent factory management consultancy. The involvement of young professionals in automation projects saves the budget through lower daily rates, but at the same time offers added value through the latest training level of the junior consultants, mostly also additional qualifications in agile project management and the possibility of internalization.
For companies with established IT structures, it is high time to invest in IT automation solutions. Not just to save time and money in IT operations, but to be future-proof and competitive – with IT that is optimally positioned in terms of infrastructure, processes, and qualifications of your employees to advance digitization in the company.
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