Many medium to large organizations today, including universities and institutions of higher education, have implemented a number of different technologies and applications to control, update, streamline, and advance their IT operations. These multiple technologies and applications are disparate; each coming with their own licensing programs and maintenance protocols designed to deliver optimal performance and reliability. But as time goes on, controlling these disparate applications and systems becomes an unwieldy task. Automation has helped, but the proliferation of multiple automation solutions for each application or system has compounded the problem.
However, today’s comprehensive, architectural IT automation solutions can provide the answer. They offer a central point of control for disparate IT entities, and as a result also offer a number of advantages to organizations looking to maximize efficiency and simplify the IT environment. These advantages include reducing operational costs, better managing dependencies and sharing data across applications, improving IT agility, and heightening governance of the entire IT environment.
Optimizing Resource Utilization
According to research by Gartner, nearly half of all large organizations will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017. You may have found that your educational organization is starting to embrace virtual/cloud computing as a way to reduce IT costs. But despite the benefits of virtual/cloud computing, managing and monitoring virtual and cloud resources poses a significant challenge.
An architectural approach to automation can help address that challenge—and save your organization money—by providing improved resource utilization through automatic provisioning and de-provisioning of virtual/cloud systems. Comprehensive automation tools minimize the waste produced when idle systems run in the background by setting parameters to automatically spin down any idle systems left running. They can automatically spin up additional resources when they are needed to ensure the successful execution of workflows. It all adds up to optimized spending on virtual/cloud resources, reduced need for manual intervention, and improved SLA performance.
Streamlining the Data Approach for Real-Time Continuity
With the huge influx of data and constantly-changing technologies, human attention is becoming a scarce commodity. As a result, Business Intelligence (BI) reporting and distribution is increasingly critical, as the availability and amount of data increases, yet the human attention span required to strategically act on it gets more limited every day.
In the recent past, it was IT’s job to make data available to various groups. Today, end-users deal directly with data through self-service IT automation tools. With an architectural approach to automation, the availability and value of data from various sources can be increased significantly by unifying and managing data warehousing maintenance tasks, eliminating any latency between events/jobs, and ensuring jobs run as scheduled. This gets the end user the right data, at the right time, so it can be acted upon with strategic immediacy.
Promoting Governance Throughout the Organization
In the past, IT operated within an environment where processes were built to last forever. Today’s model demands the incorporation of an ever-increasing rate of change—in compliance, technology, business practices, and strategies—and IT must adapt. In higher education, where governance is extremely important, that adaptability is critical.
An architectural approach to automation can help an organization develop centralized policies and enforcement aimed at compliance and control, preventing unauthorized changes to business and IT production/data workflows. Automation capabilities like script vaulting and lifecycle management protect scripts and provide audit/revision control, so changes can be tracked and previous versions can be logged and rolled back to.
Simplifying, Simplifying, Simplifying
At its most basic level, an architectural approach to automation simplifies. Educational organizations that haven’t yet implemented it are most likely relying on scripting to manage the IT environment. Scripting is complicated, time-consuming, labor intensive, and brittle—which all translates into increased costs and decreased efficiency in the long run. What’s more, a dependency on scripting results in significant maintenance and time spent updating workflows and processes when new policies or regulations are implemented.
Intelligent automation simplifies that complex chain of events. It helps organizations reduce scripting and the manual labor that goes into creating and maintaining scripts so workflow creation and maintenance is simplified, time and labor costs are reduced, and the overall IT environment is nimbler, efficient, and streamlined.
Today’s educational organizations, especially, can reap significant advantages by considering the implementation of a comprehensive, architectural approach to automating their IT operations. It can not only offer reduced costs and increased efficiencies starting in 2016, but also set up the organization as a whole for the inevitable changes coming in the future.