How can we meet the ever-increasing infrastructure provisioning needs of an increasingly connected and demanding world? Is infrastructure automation a viable solution to address this?

In an increasingly open world where services offered to consumers are accessible on a global scale from mobile applications or via the Web and continuously, any failure or slowdown is no longer accepted and tolerated by users. Applications are more and more demanding in terms of infrastructure resources due to the fact that application loads are constantly adapted or because new applications or new functionalities have to be implemented in order to offer new services to its users or consumers.

Is automating your infrastructure worth it?

Automation: an essential step for large companies

Large groups are defined by complex situations:

  • The volume of data is expressed in Terabytes or Petabytes;
  • Technology is directly integrated into support functions such as financial management or human resources;
  • The number of employees is in the hundreds, as are their needs.

For them, it is impossible to look at off-the-shelf solutions: the information system must be seen as a whole, integrated and scalable. It is therefore necessary to turn to a hand-sewn automation.

The best practice Forget about off-the-shelf services and focus on customized solutions.

For more information on this subject, read our article Infrastructure automation: how do you get there?

Automation is a key parameter for competitiveness

Companies that today do without automation of their infrastructure are like those who in the 1990's considered computers and word processing to be superfluous. History proves it: to refuse progress is to put oneself in danger.

By operating on a non-automated infrastructure, organizations embrace several pitfalls:

  • Loss of productivity due to time spent on time-consuming tasks;
  • Higher prices since human time is more expensive than machine time;
  • Lesser service, especially when delayed;
  • Less attractive employer image for new talent who want to focus their efforts on value-added tasks.

On a micro level, competitiveness is diminished because the company does not deliver the right service at the right time. But it's at the macro level that the problem is most acute: when this old-fashioned company is the last to operate in this way, it is quickly put out of business.

Good practice: look at what your competitors are doing, think about the future and the image you want to give your company.

The new methods of automation

Before you even think about automating your IT infrastructure, you need to know who's going to take care of it. For a project of this magnitude, companies don't have the luxury of making the wrong choices. If the decision depended on just one parameter, it would be this: technical teams need to become acculturated to Agile and DevOps practices. There are two steps to achieving this: create an ad hoc team and train its members. In this way, employees become experts in these methods, bringing both fluidity and performance to their infrastructure automation project.

Tomorrow or years later, such development practices are key for everyone to gain in performance. Training: a highly profitable investment.

Good practice: surround yourself with the right people to carry out a large-scale project. The actors are key to the success of the project.

The automation of the infrastructure faces two obstacles

After realizing all the benefits of such a change, why don't so many companies join the movement? For two main reasons: time and financial means. Two forms of investment that they find difficult to dedicate to their automation. Between training and changing components and systems, both time and money are sometimes in short supply. The first wise step is therefore to prioritize. Listing and organizing the actions and the corresponding means gives a clearer and more serene view on the next steps to be taken. This way, the first gains will be fed back into the portfolio of future investments. In infrastructure automation, just like in sports or stock market investing, the rule of thumb is simple: the earlier a company starts, the faster the profits appear. As a result, they improve their competitiveness in the market.

Good practice: take the time today so you don't disappear tomorrow.

When one of the two barriers is time, let's not waste it. With the right people, a clear goal and incremental implementation steps, companies with the most complex systems are working their way to an automated infrastructure. Automated systems mean efficient companies. And no one is against that.

Want to find out more? Read our article on the changing needs of CIOs by our Microsoft solutions specialist.

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