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Aug 31 2017

Businesses Need to Automate IT Operations, Says Fujitsu-Sponsored Study

Senior IT professionals from all over the world agree that "pressure is growing fast on IT infrastructure and operational processes, with no signs of this abating anytime soon." That was the key result of a survey conducted among IT leaders from various industries such as Manufacturing, Retail and Financial Services. As it stands, IT ops teams are often flooded with routine tasks in infrastructure and platform management and can only dedicate a fraction of their working hours to implementing or developing/planning new services. The preferable method for solving these problems would be to automate key operations activities and eventually move on to the full-fledged software-defined data center (SDDC).

The study – entitled The Impact of Automation on IT Operations – was carried out in June 2017 as a telephone survey by British analyst firm Freeform Dynamics Limited. Respondents were picked from organizations that had at least 2,500 workforce and/or annual revenues equivalent of US-$500 million. Their answers revealed that IT ops teams currently spend between three quarters and four fifths of their workdays on infrastructure, platform and business application management, and often simply run out of time that could be spent on more challenging tasks like investigating new tools and functions, or more generally improving and modernizing existing IT environments. What's more, most data centers weren't build following a uniform approach, but have been expanded over the years and decades – and as a result, they now consist of a patchwork of legacy and modern systems, management tools and procedures/work sequences that form a highly complex landscape and put up considerable productivity barriers while causing unnecessary overheads and delays. In short, most IT ops teams tend to get caught up in purely administrative work and have little time left to get creative, even if the skills and headcount are sufficient.

As could be expected from senior professionals, the respondents also have figured out several ways to cure this imbalance. According to the study's authors, 3 out of 4 "highlighted the value of automation in relation to all key aspects of IT operations work," meaning that they would like to reduce complexity and the need for human intervention. However, only a small minority of 20% or less claimed they already had fully automated areas like "systems and resource provisioning, ongoing operation and support, and the routine implementation of changes." In many cases, time and budget limitations prevented them from doing so. Others worry about the complexity of creating automated systems environments and the production-readiness of existing automation/orchestration technologies. And finally, more than half of all respondents cited "concerns about loss of visibility and control" (54%) and a "disruption of current IT operation roles," i.e. the fear of having to lay off team members and eventually cutting their own jobs (58%), as reasons to not go full steam ahead.

Against this backdrop, it's interesting to find that most of the respondents' employers have the tools for building automated systems environments (or even SDDCs) right at their fingertips: A whopping 81% are using VMware's virtualization stack (with 29% relying on VMware Cloud Foundation), more than half (51%) are working with Microsoft's Azure equivalent, and nearly one third (31%) have deployed open source solutions based on platforms like OpenStack or Cloud Foundry. The main problem here is to find adequate hardware for these software stacks to run on – which explains why an average 78% of all participants (between 69 and 83%) praised the benefits of pre-integration in standard appliances (as provided by Fujitsu's PRIMEFLEX portfolio) that could help to disburden IT ops teams from routine jobs and refocus staff on more rewarding "higher value" tasks. Nearly two thirds (63%) also foresee that creating faster, stabler and easier-to-use IT services will lead to escalating end user demands, which would in turn help to minimize or even eliminate the risk of job cuts. In other words, most respondents see IT automation as the silver bullet that could help them resolve most of today's IT woes.

The full text of the Freeform Dynamics survey can be found here (PDF). Our accompanying press release is here.


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