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Three Automation Mistakes You Should Avoid

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There has never been a more pressing need to automate data center operations—including the network, storage, compute, and apps. End-to-end data center automation might be the fastest route to delivering the on-demand IT services needed in today’s digital economy. As such, no organization can afford to stumble as it develops and deploys comprehensive automation strategies. 

Let’s take a look at three of the most common mistakes organizations make as they seek to automate their environments: taking on too much, focusing too heavily on a specific tool, and letting a vendor dictate their strategy.

Mistake 1: Trying to boil the ocean. Trying to do too much, too soon, is often a recipe for disaster. When it comes to automation, this approach frequently results in unmet expectations as well as management’s diminished confidence in IT’s ability to deliver.

Answer: Steady, strategic, and scalable. The best results occur when you embrace an automation strategy that focuses on sustainable growth and takes into account organizational culture. Always start by solving small, clearly defined, and well-scoped problems. This approach allows you to effectively achieve, demonstrate, and celebrate successes before ultimately expanding the scope and sophistication to cover a wider array of automation needs.

Remember, as with any transition, change is hard, and you may face resistance. After all, network operators have spent years developing their own ad hoc automation scripts to address individual problems or projects. Being able to demonstrate success is an important step, especially when you can show quantifiable results. For example, spotlight how many workdays of release testing automation saved or how many builds the team can now test per week. This is also instrumental in building team confidence to conquer the larger problems on the horizon.

Being able to demonstrate time to value is crucial as well, such as how many hours automation can save when restoring a service outage. If automation can significantly reduce troubleshooting time, it’s a huge win for IT and ultimately results in precious buy-in.

Mistake 2: Becoming tool-dependent. Tools alone are never the answer. Instead, the best tools support a well-established strategy. Why does this happen? Oftentimes, a member of the team or a sub-team within the organization has had success with a tool and leverages past successes to justify using the tool for tasks outside its intended scope. In this instance, the deficiencies of the tool will ultimately dictate the strategy and tactics—unfortunately resulting in diminished outcomes.

Answer: Focus on end-to-end strategies. A strategy-first approach is always best. When first armed with a strategy, it's much easier to select the appropriate tools. In all likelihood, you will need multiple tools and technologies. For example, Puppet is a great tool for provisioning applications and compute, but it has serious weaknesses when used for network automation. A tool like Brocade Workflow Composer Automation Suites can play a crucial role in automating the networking—while working in concert with Puppet for applications and compute. The result is end-to-end IT automation using the best tools to meet your specific challenges.

Mistake 3: Wearing vendor blinders. Letting a single vendor dictate your automation strategy often results in less-than-ideal outcomes. Digital transformation, the cloud, and the speed of community-driven open technologies are accelerating the pace of innovation. No single vendor has the capacity to keep up with that degree of change.

Answer: Value openness. You should only consider technologies that embrace openness by leveraging proven, supported technologies. An open approach increases innovation velocity because you’re able to leverage a large pool of like-minded innovators solving similar problems. Further, openness allows you to customize over time as skills and requirements change. Of course, you should only consider open technologies that you can deploy with confidence and that meet your desired mean-time-to-value goals.

For additional guidance on automation strategies, visit our Network World blog page.

To learn more about Brocade’s advanced automation solutions, visit us here.

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