Tony Lock, Freeform Dynamics

A few weeks ago I pointed out that IT management tools are finally, after many decades of masquerade, ready to deliver the functionality that their product descriptions infer, namely capabilities to actively manage nearly all elements of the IT infrastructure rather than simply monitor if systems are up and “running”.If one takes this as a valid starting assumption then one really must consider how organisations can best move their systems management thinking forward.

Some IT managers may be tempted to ask the “should I really look at automating my systems management processes”? To which the answer is very clearly yes. The pressure on IT to deliver more flexible services to its customers is immense whilst the workloads now placed on IT administrators is almost overwhelming. Doing nothing on automation, the “If” question, is no longer an option.

So we then move on to the “when” side of things. Often this is phrased along the lines of “sure we will adopt this technology (whatever it may be) when the time is right and when the technology is mature enough”. Frankly, and at long last, for automating very many systems management and administrative tasks that time is now. The technology is now advanced enough to deal with many routine, repetitive tasks that consume so much scarce It personnel resources. Now I do understand that the automation of well understood, and sometimes even well documented, IT processes will grate for many of my IT generation who can remember numerous occasions when IT solutions did not quite deliver what was promised. For systems management automation this is a major challenge and one that needs to be addressed quickly. The technology is available, but often the trust of said systems is not there.

Which just leaves the question of “what” management tasks to automate. Well this will vary organisation by organisation. And if the trust of new management automation tools is not there then the identification and testing of the automation of simple tasks should be the first step to take. It will consume some of those scarce personnel resources but the investment in locating and automating tasks will quickly prove to be of immense value. And not just in saving time but potentially in raising the quality of the IT services delivered.

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