The rate at which IT operations will become automated is about to accelerate significantly over the next two years. A global survey of 1,500 senior IT leaders conducted by Cisco Systems finds that 64 percent of respondents today would describe their approach to IT operations as either reactive (26 percent) or proactive (38 percent), but within two years more than two-thirds expect their approach to be either become predictive (33 percent) or preemptive (33 percent). Only 14 percent of respondents describe their IT environments as being preemptive today.
In general, the survey finds 88 percent of IT leaders said their investment in IT operations over the past 12 months had improved external customer satisfaction, while 89 percent said there have been improvements in innovation. But only 26 percent collect data on an ongoing basis and even fewer (17 percent) employ any kind of real-time automated analysis, the survey finds.
Nevertheless, 42 percent of respondents said they expect artificial intelligence (AI) to have the biggest impact on their ability to automate. More than half (51 percent) said they already rely on AI to some extent today to automate IT operations.
A full 82 percent also already collect operational and performance data about their security infrastructure.
Joseph Bradley, global vice president for IoT, Blockchain, AI and Incubation Business at Cisco, said much of the investment in automating IT operations is being driven by the realization that IT has become a profit center rather than cost center. As organizations increasingly realize they are a software company that happens to make something, they are looking to maximize the return on their investments in IT wherever possible, said Bradley, adding as a result, line of business (LOB) executives are exercising more influence over what applications get built and deployed within the context of an overall digital business transformation strategy.
Naturally, all that increased appreciation for the value of IT is putting more pressure on IT organizations to modernize their processes. As the number of applications that need to be built, deployed and maintained continue to increase, the need to embrace DevOps processes becomes a greater imperative. To facilitate that shift across enterprise IT environments that now routinely span multiple clouds, Cisco has been making a two-fold case for centralizing the management of highly distributed IT environments and upgrading to next-generation software-defined infrastructure that makes use of machine learning algorithms to automate IT management.
Cisco is not the only IT vendor pursuing a similar strategy. The success of those strategies, however, depends as much on the ability of the IT organization to implement the processes required to modernize their IT environments as much as it does the technology platforms. That creates something of a chicken-and-egg relationship between processes and platforms. It is difficult, but not impossible, to implement some level of DevOps without having a lot of automation. But applying DevOps at any meaningful scale within an enterprise undoubtedly will require a lot more automation than currently exists within most IT environments.