IT automation is a critical factor in today’s digital transformation era. Just as cellphones have changed how we communicate and shop, IT automation has revolutionized how organizations of all sizes maintain cybersecurity. In 2021, IT automation isn’t just a nice to have — it’s a critical component to business continuity, as staff work from home and cyberthreats loom large. Infrastructure deployment, security configuration management, systems patch management and policy deployment standardization are just a few of the core IT problems that teams are increasingly relying on some amount of automation to solve.
In this article, we’ve reviewed the top 10 benefits to using IT automation, from specific technologies like containers, to new methodologies and processes like DevOps, that can help businesses create and maintain more secure networks and services.
1. Seamless alignment with compliance (policy and regulations)
IT Governance is a central pillar in the IT industry. It ensures that organizations comply with specific industry and government regulations that guarantee baseline standards for computing. Although the compliance management process is critical, it can be a very daunting ordeal for IT teams. Each compliance framework requires ample documentation, control testing, and consistent audits to ensure continued compatibility with the corporate environment.
By introducing automation to the compliance management process, IT teams can seamlessly align their corporate policies, standards, and procedures with the ever-evolving cybersecurity compliance landscape. IT automation algorithms can monitor changes in compliance frameworks, such as NIST 800 or PCI-DSS, and update internal policies with the appropriate controls to achieve compliance. As such, IT teams never have to worry about manually updating and deploying their corporate policies each time there are industry standards changes.
2. Robust security patching cadence
Be it a server or a mobile device, every endpoint runs on a software architecture that is vulnerable to exploitation by cybercriminals and/or state-sponsored attackers. Some of these exploits range from malicious backdoors to command-and-control (C2) takeovers. Organizations must maintain a robust security patching workflow that ensures the consistent testing, mass deployment, and management of patches compatible with existing computing environments.
By automating security patching cadence, IT teams can prioritize a mass response to vulnerabilities across an entire IT ecosystem, maintain systems version documentation for audit requirements, and ultimately mitigate the most prevalent cybersecurity risks.
3. Increased speed and efficiency
Increasing efficiency is one of the benefits of IT automation that directly impacts an organization’s bottom line. Deploying IT automation into an organization’s technology stack is a decisive step that achieves measured speed and advanced efficiency, without eliminating human intelligence and efforts from the picture. IT teams can leverage the speed and repetitive precision of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm to recreate mindless busywork while improving age-old processes workflows. By doing this, IT teams can quickly deliver on service requests and divert their energy towards forward-thinking projects.
Additionally, automation alleviates stress by reducing the need to worry about placing tasks in a queue. You can rest easy knowing that your processes are implemented without intervention. An automation-led efficiency could be summed up in three Rs:
4. Scalable bare-metal and application deployment
Bare-metal and application deployment offers management capabilities that allow you to build, manage and optimize your server infrastructure. Automating the process ensures there is little to no human error that comes from repetitive manual processes and, at the same time, improves efficiency. It reduces the volume of manual labor, which results in substantial cost savings.
Having a successful application deployment depends on a complete set of automated, essential tasks and capabilities. Automation helps deploy consistent versions of an application or an operating system’s images on a larger number of servers, especially systems across Wide Area Networks. Bare-metal and application deployment ensures clean installation that produces reliable and consistent PCs and servers.
Organizations can and should leverage IT automation to deploy necessary installations from their datacenter with patterns that align with their existing infrastructure and management tools. If you do this as an organization, it will take full advantage of what you already have and transform you to what you need to be.
5. Reduction in manual IT support tickets
In an average company, an IT help desk operates a manual system where IT support staff are requested to help with hardware or software issues. This process can become too tedious and waste as much as 50% of people’s time. The limitations or challenges that occur by operating a manual IT support ticket include the inability to manage standardization, lack of accuracy, and creating customer service bottlenecks which are caused by incorrectly or incompletely filled tickets.
Knowing all the limitations of manual IT support tickets, automation mitigates negative impacts from manual services. Using an automated help desk software can help reduce ticket volume for IT support staff in the following ways:
- Improve cyber hygiene.
- Eliminate repetitive tasks.
- Create self-service options that address questions that recur frequently and allow employees to resolve common issues quickly.
- Improve efficiency and accuracy by applying rule-based automation to manage the escalation process.
When an organization automates its system of resolving IT support tickets, it encourages fast, standardized, efficient, and reliable ticket tracking and processing. And in the end, the employees and IT support staff are more productive and satisfied.
6. Rapid cyber incident response and remediation
A typical incident response plan includes six phases, which help an affected organization recover from an attack. Although cyberattacks are significant factors consistent in today’s global business landscape, automating incident response and remediation is necessary for organizations to maintain a robust security posture. IT automation minimizes the human intervention needed to detect and respond to security incidents quickly, especially in the areas of cyber-threat intelligence, digital forensics, data collection, aggregation.
Instead of wasting valuable time gathering and analyzing metrics during the incident response process, with an automated incident response and remediation tool teams can generate standardized reports instantly. Documented security alerts offer clear visibility into the state of a corporate security posture. Armed with data, IT automation improves the meantime to resolution (MTTR) for security operations (SecOps).
7. Increased service availability
The average customer expects consistent communication, convenience, and effectiveness when it comes to their service availability. A uniform service operation ensures efficient delivery of planned services without unplanned interruptions. Therefore, the caliber of services provided by a managed services provider (MSP) or a corporate IT team is measured following its service level agreements (SLAs) and tracked using key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine service availability and quality.
An uninterruptible service operation requires seamless collaboration across teams and service provider ecosystems. To this, IT teams should implement the following automation solutions to ensure that customers enjoy a 24/7/365 service operation model:
- Deployment of intelligent chatbots and virtual agents for smoother customer interactions
- Automated decision-making workflows, enabled by sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning-based algorithms, replicate daily processes based on learned behavior and signatures. When using algorithms, together with the human workforce, algorithms learn and take care of more routine decisions.
- Automated standard operating procedures (SOPs) to help enhance operational efficiencies without the need for IT teams always working to develop a fix for every technical issue.
8. Standardization of endpoint vulnerability management
In today’s ever-changing threat landscape, zero-day vulnerabilities have impacted some of the most critical computing environments in the United States. Therefore, automating vulnerability remediation is essential to protecting against data breaches and ensuring your IT infrastructure’s availability. As the number of exploitable vulnerabilities in the wild continues to grow, the meantime to patch them reduces. This is because most organizations lack a proactive vulnerability management program that actively hunts for weaknesses in their computing environment. To address these challenges and improve security resilience, you must automate certain critical elements in your vulnerability management program. For instance, an intelligently automated vulnerability scanning process ensures that thousands of vulnerabilities are quickly identified in real-time and reported to Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CIRTs) for remediation. Especially in today’s remote work culture, waiting for threat actors to discover a vulnerability before your IT team could spell doom for your entire business operation.
9. Improved business continuity
One of the business world’s misconceptions is that business disruption can only be caused by massive catastrophes, such as natural disasters or bankruptcy. While these situations can lead to business disruptions, they are not the only means for operational disruption. Seemingly, events such as application development errors, unwarranted infrastructure downtime, or an exploited computer code vulnerability can accumulate overtime and have just as much devastating impact on the business as a hurricane or tornado would.
Therefore, by integrating automation into critical business functions that directly affect your organization’s bottom line, it helps to prepare your IT teams for unknown catastrophic events that often affect every organization. Organizations must be willing to use automation to augment manual system-management processes and disaster recovery methods to achieve more comprehensive security protection, fortify business functions and assure business continuity.
Introducing automation simplifies your company’s IT infrastructure and reduces the risk of error. Thus, the benefits of automation in IT can be extended to business continuity practices to achieve the following:
- Reliable service in a constantly changing world
- An adequate system of fast and successful recovery from disasters
- Identifying and eliminating compromised data
- Preservation of skills of mainframe personnel
Automation shields your business from failing during a potential downtime, thus enhancing the security resilience factor required to withstand future impacts to critical business operations.
10. Happier service providers and end-users
In today’s technological expedient society, rapid solutions development is a significant factor in determining client and end-user satisfaction. According to a report from Information Age, 90% of employees are overwhelmed with the burden of repetitive tasks. Investing in automation for client-facing operations in an organization results in higher day-to-day satisfaction for employees and end-users interacting with your organization.
Automation eliminates the need for constant supervision or micromanagement and the tendency for human error, which usually induces pressure. Automating repetitive tasks creates a better workplace atmosphere, fosters improved internal communication, and makes employees happier by removing frustration in their jobs.
Secondly, IT automation’s ability to efficiently handle routine processes provides employees with more freedom to innovate on their terms while reducing screen time. Thus, saving them from associated health problems, such as dizziness, eye strain, and headaches. All in all, using IT automation to alleviate the burden of manual tasks (for clients and IT technicians) increases productivity levels and results in better reviews from end-users.