IT pros lose precious time every day battling menial IT operations management (ITOM) tasks. ITOM covers the things needed to support the network infrastructure delivering IT services. This includes hardware like switches, servers, and firewalls in the data center or enterprise network and the tools needed to make sure everything runs optimally.
According to the SolarWinds® 2020 Cloud Confessions survey, 78% of tech pros report spending less than 10% of their time proactively optimizing their environments (vs. reactively maintaining them). This extra time spent on maintenance and upkeep takes away from proactive optimization; this is where automation comes in. Automation can free up valuable time for IT pros to focus on things requiring human brain power instead of tedious tasks.
Most IT pros know firsthand the value of automation. In fact, the job title of “network automation engineer” is gaining popularity. But automation hasn’t yet reached ubiquity in relation to ITOM. It’s time for this to change.
First, if you haven’t started down the automation journey yet, consider starting to automate the following types of tasks:
- Complex tasks with multiple steps involved
- Repetitive routine tasks or tasks triggered by a reoccurring event
- Tasks where you sift through a great deal of data for specific, predefined criteria
In these cases, automation can help shift resources to projects requiring human intellect or creativity, reducing processing time and the possibility of human error.
Automation related to ITOM is the next step
First, consider the most relevant ITOM tools. If the goal is to optimize a large government network, look for products that scale; then, ensure the vendor and product are approved for use on government networks. Tools for these can include the following:
- Performance monitoring
- Configuration management
- Security and intrusion detection and prevention
Next, consider specific processes capable of benefitting from automation. One example is automating network configurations. This can help IT pros more effectively do the following:
- Meet compliance requirements
- Implement configuration changes quickly and efficiently
- Reduce downtime caused by failed devices
Network configuration automation is only one area of opportunity. Consider automating workflows, which can have a dramatic effect on freeing up IT staffers’ valuable time. Additionally, consider automating mobile device-initiated tasks.
There’s one additional thing to be aware of when automating ITOM tasks. IT pros implementing automation are seeing the need for a different type of skill set—an as-a-service skill set. The reason? The more tasks are automated, the more IT pros become automation monitors rather than task performers.
In other words, while the most highly technical staffers once needed to understand the inner workings of every piece of hardware, with automation, these folks must be far more aware of how software and applications work—particularly, how they work with one another. The most technical team members must understand application programming interfaces (APIs) and how they can dictate things like policies, rules, and user access.
The bottom line? ITOM and automation together are a holy grail of sorts for IT pros. The secret to a successful transition is to take it one step at a time, in logical progression, to ensure tasks, processes, and accompanying skill sets move forward together.
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