Talking and thinking about automation so much can be like sitting in a forest and not seeing the wood from the trees. Only recently I have discovered that some of the ideas we are already applying at arago are a step beyond what is generally called IT automation. Therefore I want to give a clear picture of what is possible compared to what is widely known to be top of the pops automation technology.
As you have seen in previous posts, there are many buzzwords describing automation technology and they are all more or less cool and more or less useful approaches towards making the process of maintaining ever more dynamic IT and application landscapes. But this is not where it stops. All of these tools just take a part of the work process, wrap it into a nice user interface and hopefully standardized configuration. None of these tools actually does the maintenance work, takes the necessary decisions or finds solutions to upcoming problems or adequate answers to imminent questions. But that is what we want, isn´t it? So what we want is something to automatically use all these automation tools to “just do the job”, something to automate the automation.
The best way to explain these different automation tools and their application in IT is comparing IT maintenance to flying an aircraft. In order to keep the plane up and running there are many different tools and technologies that automate the actual flying process. There are also many systems that automate the task of executing all the commands that originate from the flight support systems. These commands are transported to the actual aircraft mechanics where changes in the wing positions, thrust, flaps etc are executed. All these systems themselves automate manual tasks. A pilot flying a modern aircraft no longer has to manually move parts but uses automation tools to do the job for him. Still he is flying the plane. For tedious standard situations our pilot has another tool, called the autopilot. This system does the job of the pilot in such standard situations. The autopilot uses all the other automation tools aboard the aircraft to perform the task of keeping the plane up in the skies. Theoretically the autopilot would only call for assistance when it cannot cope with the situation at hand and that is when the pilot has to step in.
It is exactly the same in IT. With all the automation tools around, you should use an auto pilot that can handle all kinds of standard situations when managing incidents, problems, changes, IT capacity and overall availability. At the core of this auto pilot for IT operations is an autopilot engine. A large set of possible actions is stored within this engine. The job of the engine is to combine and recombine these possible actions to resolve any upcoming issues automatically. Only when it encounters a situation it cannot resolve after applying possible actions should it contact the IT experts and ask for their assistance.
This approach changes an IT expert from someone who has all kinds of good automation tools at his fingertips but is constantly battered and chased by important and urgent issues to an expert who is contacted only when his expertise is required.
003366;">This auto pilot approach minimizes the probability of human error (which is constantly high in IT operations, as there is always more than one task that needs attention in a normal environment), guarantees short reaction time, relieves the IT experts of tedious standard tasks and give them time to concentrate on important and interesting issues. An autopilot in IT operations pushes the job of an IT expert up the value chain and improves service quality at the same time.