Features: January 9th, 2017

Automation is impacting severely on IT as in other spheres of life. Joe Kim recognizes why some see automation as a threat, but urges all to embrace it as the way forward.

Nobody said a government IT pro’s life would be easy. With legacy technologies being constantly updated, or replaced entirely by whichever exciting new technology has emerged, from the cloud to virtualisation, it is the job of the IT pro to stay up to date and make sure that their skill set is constantly evolving. The added network complexity that these new technologies bring also ensures that budget and security concerns continue to weigh heavily.

The emergence of automation has also meant that many IT pros are now fearing for their jobs, with the worry that their skills will be made redundant. Automation also requires a leap of faith from IT pros that many are unwilling to take, as in, do you trust a machine to do your job to the standards that you are used to?

While change can be scary, government IT pros know that they must embrace automation if they are to make sure that their organisations are not left behind.

Don’t stagnate, innovate

While some may balk at the suggestion, it could be argued that today’s government IT professionals actually have their fingers in too many pies. Thanks to growing network complexity and initiatives like DevOps, their jobs have evolved beyond simply managing the network and now encompass more responsibility than ever before.

With this in mind, IT professionals can’t afford to spend hours and sometimes days manually solving problems. And even if they could, would they want to? That is time that could be better spent on advancing their agencies’ technology agendas, delivering innovation instead of simply putting out fires.

Alerts play a huge part in this, with IT pros having to manually respond to each and every one of them, even if they’re particularly pressed for time. While there will always be alerts, there is a way to make sure that they don’t devour quite so much of a government IT pro’s waking hours.

Say, for example, an application stops working. Usually, the IT pro would need to manually delve into the issue, seek out the problem, and then formulate and implement a solution. This takes quite a bit of time, yet it is not necessary for the IT pro to manually handle such problems. By opting for automation, the IT pro can write a script that enables the application to automatically restart.

Alerts can also be evaluated ahead of time so that IT pros can see whether they can script an automated response, and if they can, they will save themselves a huge amount of time that can be better spent elsewhere.

By helping IT pros to save time, automation not only makes their jobs easier, but it helps them to concentrate on more important matters, like delivering applications to users more effectively, or driving innovation within the organisation.

Talking tools

For IT pros warming to the idea of automation, there are several tools that should be kept in mind. Those dedicated to compliance auditing, configuration backup and change management and tracking should all be considered, as they will not only save an enormous amount of time and resources, but will also significantly reduce the number of errors sometimes created by manual tasks, which could lead to downtime or even security breaches – a nightmare for a government organisation.

While it’s not possible or advisable for a government IT pro to wash their hands of all manual tasks, a degree of automation could certainly help them manage the organisation’s infrastructure that much more effectively. By making their lives easier, government IT pros can instead look to the future, making positive changes to help ensure a more secure, efficient organisation.

Joe Kim is CTO with SolarWinds