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Embotics Cloud Management Blog

Aligning IT Infrastructure Automation to Business Goals

Fotolia_98734359_XS.jpgIf you're undertaking an IT infrastructure automation project, are you considering the scope of the project and desired business outcomes?
This question may seem obvious, but I’ve seen enough projects derailed to make it a legitimate one.
It’s been my experience that the label of Private Cloud has set an unrealistic expectation for both customers and IT. There's an argument that private cloud should resemble public cloud in form and features

But IT organizations automatically risk scope creep when comparing their projects objectives to that of public cloud features.

Ten Years for Ten Years of Experience

I once had a manager give me some great early-career advice. It went like: it takes ten years to get ten years of experience.
The advice may seem simple, but it applies well to IT infrastructure automation efforts. Before even getting to the example of AWS it’s helpful to look at a massive AWS customer, Netflix.

IT Infrastructure Automation Case Study - Netflix

As a customer of AWS Cloud, it took Netflix seven years to migrate the majority of their streaming services to AWS. And this is because cloud migration isn’t as simple as taking existing workloads and performing a physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration.
Netflix discovered processes and applications need refactoring to run in Cloud infrastructure. The major lesson for enterprises is that introducing automation-as-a-service to customers isn’t enough.
IT infrastructure needs to work with the application team to understand how IT infrastructure automation integrates into existing workflows.
One of the common use cases for IT infrastructure automation is the improvement in application development workflows. IT infrastructure teams need to ask the fundamental question of what’s the existing workflow and does the automation solution improve that workflow.

The Flipside of IT Infrastructure Automation

The other half of that equation is the infrastructure automation scope.
It’s tempting to look at all the integration of an AWS EC2 and want to emulate the service. I’m going to go ahead and say, if the goal is to create AWS internally, you should look to migrating to AWS.
You’ll have a higher likelihood of success removing the roadblocks to public cloud vs. recreating AWS. It took the AWS team ten years of focus on delivering Infrastructure-as-a-Service. AWS built their infrastructure and processes with providing IaaS in mind. Most enterprises still need to deal with installing and supporting packaged and legacy software.
IT infrastructure automation isn’t a fool’s errand.
It's the opposite. It means that infrastructure teams need to focus on areas of value.
If the challenge is getting products or applications to market as quickly as possible, the solution may lay in automating the development and test process. Infrastructure teams can focus on the challenges related to provisioning resources and regression testing of code as it moves through the development cycle. Provisioning development resources is an example of something that produces a significant return vs. automating the provisioning of an email server.

Focus on Results

A point of automation is to remove productivity bottlenecks. The goal isn’t to replicate public cloud which focuses on solving a wider range of problems over a broad customer base.
When undertaking an automation project ensure you are targeting and addressing the appropriate business goal.
Keith Townsend, founder of theCTOAdvisor.com. Keith is an IT Architect with 18 years of experience helping organizations achieve their mission through optimized IT infrastructures, and has written for several award-winning properties that include TechTarget.com and TechRepublic.com.

To hear the replay on Keith's latest webinar with Embotics: the Path to Agilty - Process or Automation, follow the link below.

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Topics: Public Cloud Private Cloud Cloud Automation Software