Implement automation in your IT department, and you can expect any of several reactions.
The first comes from people who automatically think, “My job will disappear.” Then you have those who assume all menial tasks will suddenly (and magically) disappear, leaving only the most interesting work for them to do.
The reality of automation, however, exists somewhere in the middle.
For the pessimists: Rest easy—talented IT professionals cannot be replaced by code and robots. And for those who see a future free from the tedium of manual tasks: Not so fast. Because, while automation offers increased simplicity and time savings, it will not completely eliminate all manual tasks.
So what does automation do?
Next-generation automation multiplies resources by removing easily-repeated tasks from an engineer’s workload.
The result? Improved capacity for overburdened IT teams. Ideally, this allows valuable employees to focus on more important—and often more exciting—projects. But the benefits of automation aren’t limited to resources.
Improving security posture
Done right, automation addresses and remediates security incidents faster than manual approaches. Still, that doesn’t render human touch unnecessary.
Instead, engineers become critical for proactively identifying risks, instead of fixing them after the fact. By allowing already-identified problems to be fixed by machine, automation frees up experts to focus on finding new threats and risks.
Further, as one of the major benefits of software defined networking (SDN), automation allows organizations to enact a variety of network policies, whether for security, storage or networking, with lower risk for errors.
Decreasing human error
Consider, for example, change management processes—a requirement any time you make changes to your network, security included.
Typically reviewed by committees, managing network changes can greatly slow down your IT team’s ability to tend to other business, depending on how many changes you are making and what types of changes they are.
While some of these alterations are unavoidably time intensive, others occur the same way every time. This is where automation saves your business significant time.
Automating these policies the same way every time reduces (or even eliminates) the need for manual review. This shrinks the timeline for implementation and allows you to make changes in a more controlled, less error-prone fashion. And minimizing the risk of error is critical for improving network security.
Wherever you have manual steps, a risk for error exists. Even the most responsible employee might forget to change a password or turn a feature on or off. Automating those processes, however, provides accountability and reassurance. And when something does go wrong, an expert can step in to figure out why and fix it for next time.
Easier, but not a free ride
One thing automation isn’t: An excuse to become lax or over confident. You’ll still have work to do, some of it tedious and some of it requiring crucial vigilance.
While automation offers a wealth of benefits, conveniences and reassurances, it’s not simply a matter of pushing a few buttons. Even so, we now have the ability to accomplish many things faster than we ever could through solely manual operation. And key to enabling automation are software defined networking and the improved level of programmability it offers.
Even technological geniuses can’t add hours to the day. But automation can free up precious time so that your most talented employees can focus on the most important products. To get started, figure out which tasks are best done by machines (i.e., things repeated on a daily or weekly basis). Automate those tasks, and watch your engineers flourish on the most important projects.