IT as a Service is one of the hottest topics these days. In a nutshell, it entails the radical alignment of all IT disciplines around strategic business requirements. Instead of having to beg IT for resources and services, as many of us are accustomed to, we can now pick all the resources and services from an easy-to-use online catalog. Workload automation features are finally becoming part of this service catalog, allowing business users to trigger, monitor, and even repair essential job flows.
All 2012 key trends in workload automation aim at further strengthening the integration of workload automation with the IT as a Service concept:
Ease-of-use: To become a good citizen of corporate IT, workload automation has to clean up its act and allow business users to at least trigger and monitor their workloads. More and more vendors have realized that usability matters, even in workload automation, working on cutting edge HTML 5-driven user interfaces. This new focus on ease-of-use will accelerate in 2012, contributing to workload automation becoming even more pervasive and relevant within the enterprise.
Integration: Business service management (BSM) solutions are key to tying the health of your company's IT services to the corresponding business requirements. Without including workload automation performance, BSM dashboards often get blindsided by sudden failures, due to workload problems. Therefore, in 2012 we will see a growing trend toward integrating workload automation solutions with BSM dashboards, as well as with configuration management systems and IT process automation implementations.
Business focus: To become a true strategic differentiator, IT has to radically focus on its connection with actual business requirements. SLAs constitute the translation of business requirements into technical specifications. Therefore, workload automation must be SLA-aware. Each individual batch job has to be mapped against the SLAs it affects. In case a job is late or fails, the workload automation solution must be able to automatically evaluate the impact of this issue on the critical path and ultimately, the effected business processes. Event correlation and predictive analytics capabilities enable this ability to identify potential critical path issues, before they become true problems with massive business impact. In 2012, we will see a drastically increasing role of predictive analytics and event correlation within workload automation.
Cloud: What would any 2012 outlook be without stressing the all encompassing magnitude of cloud? "Bursting" workloads to places where they can be performed in the most cost effective manner seems to be the pinnacle of enterprise IT. We have come all the way from running workloads statically on a mainframe, to vMotioning them between numerous virtual machines within the enterprise, to ultimately being able to move these workloads across datacenters and to public cloud environments. Therefore, the growing impact of the cloud on workload automation is a pretty safe prediction for 2012.
Mobile management: EMA's own Steve Brasen has recently published a research study showing the increasing importance for staff to be able to complete their daily task from outside the office. Mobile management applications allow IT and business staff to monitor and debug their workload automation systems. The more flexible corporate work conditions become, the more the enterprise can take advantage of reaching the right staff member at almost any time, ensuring that problems are addressed by the person most suitable, instead of by whoever is available at the time. In 2012, more and more workload automation vendors will expand the capabilities of their mobile applications.
As you can see, 2012 will be an exciting year for workload automation. I personally look forward to working with all of the workload automation vendors in this year's EMA Workload Automation Radar and finding out more about future directions far beyond 2012.