The journey towards intelligent infrastructures

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Gartner recently identified the rise of autonomics-driven IT as one of the major strategic technology trends of the coming year. The analyst house believes it will mark the beginning of the most disruptive era in the history of IT and it’s hard not to agree. 2014 will see smart machines empowering enterprises to manage more of their IT with fewer resources, and the outsourcing industry will see a major price drop as a result. As enterprises scramble to renegotiate their contracts with incumbent providers, outsourcers will aggressively price competitive bids to avoid losing their business entirely. Through to 2020, the proliferation of contextually-aware, intelligent personal assistants and autonomous machines will take hold. What does the journey look like towards an era when companies have embraced a digitalised workforce?

‘Autonomic’ systems, which have the ability to detect exceptions, instantaneously diagnose across multiple potential causes, correlate environmental and contextual information, make decisions on resolution and carry out fixes - with limited or no human intervention - are revolutionising the standard resource based approach to outsourced IT management. Given a far reduced reliance on human activity, they are able to transform service delivery, reduce the associated costs to serve an environment, and all but remove error and inconsistency from a service. Progressive models for IT outsourcing are transforming the traditional approach, and underlying service delivery model, through the use of expert systems technology to industrialise IT management.

There are, however, some obstacles blocking the widespread adoption of robotic process automation? The primary problem is how IT budgets are typically allocated. CIOs generally dedicate a vast majority of their IT budgets to basic, “keep the lights on” activities, leaving just a little for innovation, revenue generation and strategic planning. With cloud computing, big data, mobility and many other expansive IT undertakings, few IT departments have implemented even the most rudimentary of IT service management systems, preventing many CIOs from expanding their employees’ focus from mundane tasks to ground breaking ones.

However, this paradigm is beginning to change. This is a critical moment for the IT services industry as established players begin to allocate budget to autonomics technology to transform their delivery organisations in order to remain competitive. By embracing autonomics, which can provide efficiency improvements of more than 30 per cent, service providers are able to redefine the cost/quality equation that they offer clients. Virtual engineers can be scaled at no extra cost to meet any required business volume and deliver a consistently high-performance and predictable service every day.

A secondary problem to the adoption of widespread intelligent infrastructures is how IT departments have historically kept costs low. Traditional outsourcing has long created efficiencies for IT departments that have outgrown their resources by offering a proven model to support even the most process-intensive organisations. But, while many have found efficiencies in outsourcing, still more are finding that these projects often end up costing more than originally planned and may not always deliver the promised process improvements. It’s clear that this industry needs to evolve to better serve organisations and deliver more tailored operational efficiencies to each customer in order to create an IT service that is more efficient, keeps costs low and still delivers great results.

Outsourcing may still be considered the traditional approach to ensuring a functioning IT system but environmental and economic shifts are slowly tarnishing its reputation for being cost effective and reliable. Countries which were once known for their cheap labour have fallen victim to wage inflation and sourcing a skilled work force has become increasingly difficult in the recent years due to competition for talent intensifying. Autonomics offers organisations an alternative to overcoming these shifting paradigms, reducing dependency on a human workforce to maintain complex systems and in turn reducing overall costs for organisations.

Through the use of widespread automation, IT operations will become as reliable and predictable as the supply of water and electricity. More importantly, expensive human resources can be fully dedicated to high value tasks. For many IT departments, too much time spent on “run the business” activities hampers their ability to drive “change the business” initiatives, many of which are aimed as using IT as a business differentiator and are thus infinitely more valuable to a business than the engine room of keeping systems and services running.

In 2014, we can expect to see a lot more adoption of automated IT systems as organisations start to realise their importance. While autonomics won’t replace outsourcing altogether it will be fascinating to see how the two will coexist and enhance business’ processes and procedures.

Frank Lansink is the Managing Director of

Ipsoft

,a global autonomic services provider.

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