Automating Change: The Key to Proactive IT Management

Dec 30, 2014 2:03:18 PM

Reflecting on my earlier career in IT management, I have to confess to a level of astonishment at how naïve IT administrative practices were just a decade or two ago. Failure events were common, and most organizations just accepted as immutable fact the reality of systemic firefighting. IT services critical to business operations were all too often held together with little more than a hope and a prayer. Sure, my colleagues and I were acutely aware of the importance of performing “root cause analysis” and implementing proactive management practices, but who had the time for that? The inevitability of business pressures, support limitations, and time constraints most often contributed to sustaining a mantra of “just get it working and move on!”

At the core of these deficiencies was the unfortunate fact that administrators principally relied on manual process and a few ad hoc scripts to perform support tasks. This approach is inherently inefficient as it is eminently time consuming and fraught with human errors and inaccuracies. Nowhere is this shortcoming seen more keenly than in the inability to perform effective change management. Nearly all IT failures can be attributed to an unforeseen problem with a planned or unplanned change. Relying on manual processes for implementing changes will always result in an elevated number of failure incidents and exceptionally long resolution times.

The recently published EMA white paper, “Effective Change Management: Maximizing IT Reliability Through Service Automation,” outlines best practices for adopting service automation to support change processes. Also revealed in the paper are the key business values achieved by automating change management, which can be summarized in five areas:

  • Ensures Consistent Implementations – By standardizing the execution of change processes, all deployments are performed in a predictable manner, reducing incidents of human error.
  • Achieves SLA & Compliance Goals – Automated monitoring processes continuously identify and report on any performance issues or potential problems that may impact user or business productivity.
  • Reduces Time-to-Resolution – Automation enables instant reporting on out-of-compliance changes as well as continuous performance monitoring to promptly alert administrators when incidents occur, enabling rapid remediation times.
  • Enables Proactive Management – Automation, in conjunction with analytics, identifies potential problems before they impact business production and performs root cause analysis, ensuring failure events do not recur.
  • Minimizes Costs – Resource optimization and capacity planning enabled by automation increase the life of existing asset investments while enabling new investments to be right-sized to meet business requirements. Operational expenses are also reduced as fewer administrators are empowered to perform a greater number of tasks.

Change in IT is persistent as both technologies and business requirements are constantly evolving. But change does not need to be a painful and challenging experience. With the strategic application of automation, any change process can be simplified and made more reliable and cost effective—transforming chaotic, reactive IT operations into predictable, proactively managed environments.


Steve Brasen

Written by Steve Brasen

Steve Brasen is a Research Director leading EMA’s practices covering endpoint management, identity management, and access management. Steve’s career at EMA follows 20 years of “in-the-trenches” enterprise experience in IT management, operational support, and engineering for high-technology, telecommunications, and financial institutions, including: MCI Worldcom, Bell Communications Research, UNIX International, Salomon Smith Barney, and Agilent Technologies.

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