Why IT operations teams need automation technology now?

Automation tools could help IT shops looking to reduce costs, streamline processes and optimize IT operations.

Forrester Research report details why 2009 is the year IT organizations need to end inefficient processes, eliminate manual errors and alleviate staff shortages that plague IT operations.

IT operations teams today are challenged to provide more services with fewer resources, which could be the perfect opportunity to update processes and introduce automation technology into their day-to-day routine, according to Forrester Research.

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In the report “IT Operations 2009: An Automation Odyssey,” Forrester Research Senior Analyst Glenn O’Donnell and several other analysts examine the reasons why enterprise IT organizations need to reconsider their approach to IT operations and integrate automation tools into their plans. According to Forrester, several factors are driving the need for IT to automate more tasks and processes – in an effort to better serve the needs of the business.

“The typical IT organization wastes a significant portion of its budget on inefficiencies that only get worse as complexity grows,” the report reads “Automate many of these tasks and you become leaner and more responsive to business changes.”

As demand for IT services escalates, human operators struggle to keep the pace that technology could maintain, the report says. And that is not a shortcoming of IT staffers as the complexity of environments continues to grow and the number of elements needing to be managed multiplies exponentially as technologies such as virtualization take hold in enterprise environments. Also automation technology significantly reduces the opportunity for inconsistencies and errors, Forrester says, that have become too common with manual processes.

“Even if an individual failure probability is low, multiply the number of systems to patch and the probability of at least one failure is virtually 100%,” the report states. “Automated solutions ensured a nearly perfect degree of accuracy and redo costs plummeted to near zero.”

And while many organizations may feel that adding staff will help deal when IT infrastructure expands, Forrester says the complexity of environments is outpacing human capabilities. “For many IT services, complexity has surpassed human ability,” the report says. “None of these points should be interpreted as an indictment of human stupidity.”

Forrester also suggests that IT operations should couple automation technology with best practices, such as those detailed in ITIL. Updating IT staff skills to accommodate new technologies and processes will also go a long way to helping operations teams reduce efforts and deliver IT services within budget constraints. By streamlining existing IT processes and then automating them with tools, Forrester analysts say IT operations teams will improve service delivery and better support the business.

“It is almost certain that you will realize substantial overall benefits in operational expenses and business agility if you approach automation right,” Forrester says. “Conversely, process excellence coupled with the right technologies, personnel adjustments and cost balance will undoubtedly produce highly effective and highly efficient service delivery.”

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