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What is IT automation?

IT automation is the practice of creating and managing IT resources with minimal or no human interaction. Assets managed can include virtual compute resources, storage, virtual network appliances, and even security zones.

Automation should use repeatable, auditable software to manage the entire lifecycle of IT assets. The automation software can be as simple as custom scripting to deploy virtual hardware and configure software, or as complex as pipeline workflows that manage the full lifecycle while integrating with existing tools such as security, change management, and mesh systems.

Organizations can adopt practices incrementally, starting with scripting of simple, repetitive tasks. More sophisticated groups will integrate discrete tasks into a continuous toolchain, providing end-to-end automation of the entire infrastructure lifecycle.

What are the benefits of IT automation?

IT automation is hugely beneficial in helping companies manage their infrastructure and meet their compliance goals. It improves company efficiency while ensuring infrastructure compliance.

IT automation is more valuable today than ever before because it addresses the problems that can challenge a company’s growth. With regulations, users, and markets placing a greater emphasis on compliance, security, and rapid application delivery, automation is critical to staying competitive in today’s market. 

IT automation saves time, saves money, ensures reliability and governance, and promotes speed and agility

Saves businesses time

Many IT departments spend as much as 50 percent of their time on repetitive manual maintenance tasks.

When teams spend most of their time being reactive, there’s less time to spend on the work that matters: deploying applications quickly and moving the business ahead. IT automation speeds up the time to value of infrastructure assets.

Saves businesses money

By taking manual, time-intensive tasks off the plates of highly skilled professionals, IT automation allows employees to focus on strategic initiatives and be more productive in the aspects of the business that matter most. Plus, automation reduces the risk of human error in necessary but repetitive tasks.

Brings reliability and governance to businesses

Automation is the key to faster deployments. It’s the foundation for continuous delivery and other DevOps practices. It assures that IT assets are created and maintained in a defined state, reducing errors, increasing confidence, and assuring license and compliance needs are fulfilled.

With IT automation, it’s possible to:

  • Define how infrastructure and applications should look
  • Test changes before deploying them to production, in an environment that matches production
  • Automatically fix any unexpected changes

Allows businesses to move with speed and agility

To rise above the noise of a crowded market, companies need to be more efficient than ever. IT automation removes tedious manual processes, decreases system downtime, and increases the ability to shift strategically with market demands. It saves companies time while providing peace of mind.

How does IT automation help IT operations teams?

IT automation allows operations teams to scale services far beyond what manual processes can do. It reduces the time to delivery of new assets from days and weeks to minutes and hours while reducing post-deployment problems. It is the cornerstone of self-service, where end users can request new assets and have them delivered via a fully-automated process, with the licensing, resources, and compliance restrictions deemed necessary.

Automation practices can be extended to the full asset lifecycle:

  • Updates can be deployed in an orderly fashion, old or outdated assets can be recycled, and current state is known and reportable (visibility being another core DevOps tenet).
  • Identifying incorrect configuration and drift is easier because automation makes sure the desired state of each machine is known. That simplifies troubleshooting, reduces downtime, and allows for testing at scale.
  • Without the need to learn proprietary, manual processes, onboarding new people and managing turnover is also easier for companies with skills gaps and knowledge siloes.

How does IT automation factor into DevOps?

IT automation is one of the basic tenets of DevOps, and it’s been adopted by the wider IT world. Larger IT organizations saw the significant improvement in deployment times and testing success that DevOps teams experienced by automating, and thus the practice was adopted more broadly.

Several other core DevOps philosophies also accompany well-developed automation practices: collaboration, visibility, and “design with the end user in mind.”

How do I know if my organization is ready for automation?

Very small businesses, or ones without complex IT infrastructures, may not be ready for automation. However, there are several signs that your organization may be ready to start automating:

  • You’re growing faster than your IT team can keep pace. When you start to scale infrastructure to keep pace with growth, manual processes no longer are feasible, economical, or efficient.
  • Certain production issues recur regularly. It may be one issue or several, but if it needs continual fixing or maintenance, automation can help.
  • You’re always restructuring your workforce or it’s hard to find talent. When headcounts drop, automating processes can fill the gap and help lower labor costs.
  • You need to streamline workflows to improve efficiency. As your company integrates applications and data, automating workflows will connect systems and apps. This creates a smoother, more efficient process that improves customer and employee experience.
  • You feel like your IT team’s time is wasted on the little things. Automating IT processes like compliance and configuration lifts the burden from humans and frees them to apply their skills and expertise to work that has a higher return on value.

How can I get started with IT automation?

While many tools are available – both open source and enterprise – getting started with IT automation is very simple.

  • Scripting. Most organizations already have some automation in the form of scripting, which is the most basic type of automation.
  • Putting script into a source control system. This enables wide availability, collaboration, and version control.
  • Automatically running scripts and linking them together with orchestrators. These methods work but don’t scale, as maintenance tends to be more of a burden as use and scope increase.
  • Bringing in specific automation tooling. Puppet provides infrastructure automation that simplifies in order to strengthen customers’ security posture, compliance standards, and business resiliency.

Recommended for you

Through the power of an IT automation platform, teams are freed up to innovate. Puppet enables DevOps and IT teams to simplify automation and scale infrastructure in the largest and fastest growing organizations in the world.
 
Puppet also offers free training options including instructor-led classes, web-based labs, and self-contained virtual environments to safely explore how Puppet can help you excel at automation.