Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation

Michael Vizard, Journalist | 6/20/2013 | 17 comments

Michael Vizard
The biggest challenge every IT organization of any size faces today is finding a way to scale without breaking the budget. Given the fact that the most expensive part of any IT organization is the people needed to run it, the only way IT organizations are going to be able to cost-effectively scale is to embrace IT automation.

In fact, it's the success of large-scale public cloud service providers and companies such as Facebook that are now forcing the issue. According to David Vellante, co-founder of the IT research firm Wikibon, the average IT organization can't afford the same level of engineering talent as a Google or a Facebook. But they can borrow ideas in the form of best-practices that rely more on IT automation to scale their IT operations.

"Enterprise IT organizations are now learning from the hyperscale guys," says Vellante.

For example, rather than dedicating applications to specific servers, IT automation makes it simpler to dynamically allocate IT resources to applications on demand, thereby maximizing utilization rates to the fullest extent possible.

There are, of course, a number of challenges with automation in the datacenter, otherwise every IT organization would have embraced it by now.

The first issue that most IT leaders face when trying to introduce higher levels of automation is fear. Many IT administrators look upon IT automation as the path to their own obsolescence. In addition, it's not uncommon for administrators to have written their own scripts to automate specific functions. Not only do they tend to take great pride in those scripts, they view them as their own unique intellectual property that differentiates them from other IT administrators.

The problem, of course, is that not only are those scripts undocumented, they don't tend to scale particularly well. The end result is the IT organization is held hostage by a handful of IT administrators that often argue that their custom scripts are better than any commercial IT automation product could ever be.

Another problem is that not all IT automation technologies work perfectly out of the box. Not only do many of them have troubles of their own when it comes to scaling, there's not much in the way of visibility being provided in terms of how they actually work. That makes a lot of IT organizations uncomfortable with being tethered to a proprietary workflow that leaves them unsure about what specific actions are being taken at any given time for any number of possible reasons.

Nevertheless, the benefits of commercial IT automation tools tend to outweigh any of the negatives if for no other reason than they creates a documented series of repeatable processes for managing the datacenter that are indispensable when it comes to keeping IT headcount costs under control.

For that reason, we're seeing vendors such as Dell that have introduced turnkey private cloud computing platforms, such as the PowerEdge VTRX, while at the same time releasing Active Infrastructure reference architectures that simplify the deployment of, for example, high-performance computing (HPC) or SAP HANA in-memory computing environments.

According to Steve Stover, director of product management and strategy at Dell, most of Dell's automation efforts are focused around the IT automation technology the company gained when it acquired Gale Technologies late last year. That technology now manifests itself in an Active System Manager software that is at the heart of Dell's reference architecture. The goal, says Stover, is to reduce the amount of time and effort that IT organizations spend on maintenance activities so they can spend more time and money on investing in new systems and applications.

"Our research shows the average IT organization spends 72 percent of their time maintaining existing systems," says Stover. Obviously, this is an ineffective use of resources.

There is no shortage of options when it comes to IT automation. Besides the technologies offered by system vendors, every provider of virtualization software has extended its IT automation offerings. In addition, there are a whole range of companies that provide suites of IT automation tools that run across multiple platforms.

Whatever the route taken, the one thing that is for certain is that more automation is going to be required to manage IT at scale. It'll be up to each and every organization to determine to what degree they want to embrace IT automation, starting with any cultural resistance issues. But once they start to automate things they'll soon discover that ultimately the difference between managing 10 servers versus 100 servers is rapidly becoming nominal.

In fact, Wikibon's Vellante notes that going forward, increased usage of IT automation is not only going to allow IT organizations to scale operations higher, it's ultimately going to drive a convergence of roles within the IT organization. Rather than having to rely on specialists to manage every silo, the future management of datacenters will be in the hands of IT generalists schooled in servers, storage, and networking technologies. That may take a while to occur, but at this point Vellante says the economics of managing datacenters make it all but inevitable.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
MDMConsult   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   8/1/2013 6:40:54 PM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
Converged infrastructure is a way to integrate multiple IT technologies, such as servers, storage, networking equipment, virtualization, and/or software applications into a larger solution. Converged infrastructures offer a number of advantages over best-of-breed solutions.For instance, they are either integrated by a single vendor or built according to a vendor's pre-designed templates, making them much easier to deploy than a solution that needs to be assembled from multiple vendors' products in the field. Converged infrastructure solutions also provide customers with "one throat to choke" for service, repairs, updates, and patches.
geeky   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   7/26/2013 7:08:35 AM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
@Shoaib: Yes true ROI is something the companies do look into but it consumes time. So when you reach a certain point break or make factor is not that important since you have used it for some time.
sohaibmasood   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   7/3/2013 5:27:18 AM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
ROI is always important and a decisive factor when you opt for a technology or anything else in an organization. In IT the ROI is often the only factor that makes or breaks a solution. 
DBK   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   7/1/2013 10:58:31 AM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
Sara Well thank you but I have to admit some plagiarism.  Had something to do with a colorful phrase and said some like this  "Instant jerk, just add alcohol".
Sara Peters   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   6/30/2013 11:08:14 PM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
@DBK  ooOOOooo, this is very cleverly put.  "The cloud is an instant automation enablement tool, just add automation."
nimanthad   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   6/28/2013 11:42:28 PM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
@shoaib: Indeed and I see that as a very positive sign for technology. Anyway the deciding factor of it will be the ROI companies do make after buckling up with IT    
DBK   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   6/26/2013 12:28:11 PM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
John - Your comment about the cloud = automation has some merit, and I look at it slightly different.  The cloud is an instant automation enablement tool, just add automation.
The_Phil   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   6/25/2013 7:36:41 PM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
Yes sir. I've been trying to create something like that for YEARS!
sohaibmasood   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   6/25/2013 6:51:59 AM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
Hospice_Houngbo, You are correct. Automation is a must these days. The bigger challenges I think are memory/resource allocation and storage.
sohaibmasood   Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation   6/25/2013 5:15:15 AM
Re: Enterprise IT Efficiency Requires Increased IT Automation
nimanthad, I agree with you. Most companies these days are automated if not fully than partially. Which means that we are relying more & more on IT and systems to make our work easier. Companies are trying to leverage IT and increase their productivity by use of complex systems. 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Michael Vizard
Michael Vizard   10/23/2013   14 comments
With congressional hearings scheduled this week to get to the bottom of the fiasco surrounding the HealthCare.gov launch, what will probably come to light is just how much a broken ...
Michael Vizard   10/15/2013   2 comments
Speaking at the recent McAfee Focus 2013 conference, Intel president Renee James says integrating security into hardware in a way that fundamentally lowers the cost of IT security is now ...
Michael Vizard   10/9/2013   18 comments
With so many big-data projects now underway across the enterprise, the next big challenge facing IT organizations is how to effectively manage that amount of data.
Michael Vizard   9/13/2013   27 comments
With massive investments now being made in customer experience management, the way organizations sell their wares is being transformed in the digital age; and with it is coming a profound ...
Michael Vizard   9/9/2013   20 comments
IT organizations of all sizes have never been confronted with as much diversity and complexity in terms of the devices they are being asked to support.
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
[email protected]
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.