Gartner 2020 Automation Guide

What key features are must haves for modern automation platforms?

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Work­load automa­tion ques­tions and answers

What is Opcon?

OpCon is a low-code, highly scalable and secure workload automation platform that simplifies the management of your IT systems. With a robust REST API and extensive library of modern and legacy system integrations, OpCon becomes the central point of control for orchestrating cross-environment and cross-OS IT processes in on-prem and hybrid cloud systems.

What is workload automation?

Workload automation (WLA) is a software-enabled method of scheduling, initiating, and executing specific business processes and transactions, including workflows and associated functionalities. It is typically part of the IT infrastructure and operations team’s responsibilities because it is used to automate the critical processes that enable modern enterprises to achieve agility and resiliency.

Read the full blog: What is Workload Automation?

What is mainframe automation?

Mainframe automation typically is a collection of processing tasks collected into a schedule, which are then run at preset times in what is known as batch scheduling. Workload automation platforms, such as OpCon, can replace the time-consuming manual inputs traditionally required to run batch scheduling, allowing modern businesses to continue extracting value from their mainframes by maximizing their uptime.

Many mainframe contracts with IBM are based on a capped number of processes per day allowed, and overages can be expensive. With OpCon, companies can streamline the number of jobs necessary to achieve their goals and get more ROI out of their mainframes.

What does digital transformation mean?

Digital transformation is the process of using new and existing technologies to modify or replace existing business processes in order to achieve better efficiency and agility to meet the changing requirements of the market.

SMA Technologies’ vision of digital transformation is to provide a workload automation tool for businesses to automate as many processes as possible and free their employees to focus on more strategic, high-value work.

How to automate business processes.

To automate business processes, you must first break down the process into scriptable steps. Identify what needs to happen first, and then list out the subsequent steps. Then you need to create scripts for each step. If you’ve chosen a good workload automation platform, it should accept a wide variety of common scripting languages, such as PowerShell.

Next, determine if those steps are event-driven, or if they need to happen at a specific time. If the process is event-driven, determine what conditions must be met to trigger the workflow. If the process needs to happen at a specific time, such as sending a daily inventory report to stakeholders, then configure the scheduling options for that workflow in your workload automation platform.

Consider what needs to happen when your new automated business process workflow finishes. For example, is this process tied into other business processes that you want to automate? Best practice is to group codependent automated processes into the same workflow, for ease of administration for your IT operations team. In your automation platform UI, you can configure alerts and notifications to email appropriate parties when the workflow is completed.

You can read more in our blog: Low-hanging fruit – automate common business processes to reduce costs.

How does automation help reduce errors?

Automation helps reduce errors by executing repetitive processes exactly the same every single time they’re needed. Humans get tired and can either forget steps in a process or create an error by inputting incorrect information.

By automating repetitive business and IT processes, organizations ensure that best practices are followed each time, ensuring that they stay in compliance and meet SLAs.

In addition to reducing errors, automating business processes also ensures best practices continue even as people move into different roles in your organization. Read more: Capturing institutional knowledge: turn human expertise into automated workflows.

What is automatic workload repository?

An automatic workload repository collects and processes performance statistics for a database. This data can be turned into automated reports.

How to automate your service management.

To automate IT service management, you first must define the steps in the processes you want to automate. Then you decide how much, if any, manual intervention or approval needs to happen throughout your workflow.

For example, creating a ticket in ServiceNow, the industry leader for IT service management, can be automated using a workload automation platform with self-service automation. Further automated steps can be added to this workflow if desired.

An example workflow:

Step 1) System detects issue with an IT process or service and generates a ticket in ServiceNow.

Step 2) Operator acknowledges the ticket and initiates an automated workflow that goes through the resolution process step by step. (The system can also be set up to automatically trigger the resolution process with no manual intervention.)

Step 3) The workflow finishes and notifies the operator of the result.

Step 4) If the process is resolved successfully, the ticket is automatically closed.

Check out our blog: How to integrate workload automation into ServiceNow with a REST API.

How to automate onboarding.

Automate onboarding and offboarding by adding self-service automation to your IT offerings. Many of the tedious processes involved with onboarding or offboarding can be installed in convenient workflows that are executed with the touch of a button.

In a typical set up, the HR department would input an employee’s data into their system. Using a self-service workflow, the HR rep can then auto-populate that data into other relevant systems and send a request to the IT department to initiate their onboarding processes. The IT tech will then use a workflow to automatically assign credentials and necessary access for the employee, as well as assign a laptop.

More information can be found here: Eliminate errors by automating onboarding and offboarding.

What are new technologies for business continuity?

The critical technologies for business continuity involve workload mobility, remote monitoring and resolution tools for IT processes, and capturing institutional knowledge into automated workflows.

Workload mobility is principally about moving services and applications to the cloud. The advantage gained is that personnel still have access to all the tools they need to fulfill their responsibilities even if access to the office is unavailable due to natural disaster or pandemic.

The COVID-19 lockdowns, and the potential for similar lockdowns with future pandemics, has highlighted the need for the IT operations team to be able to run their environment without needing to be at the data center or office in person. Having a workload automation platform that can automate, orchestrate, and monitor IT processes across a geographically dispersed network is no longer optional.

Organizations now understand the necessity of capturing the institutional knowledge of their best business practices into automate workflows. Businesses are looking for resiliency, and the best way to achieve it is to automate as many critical processes as possible.

For more information, please read our blog: Navigating the storm – Accelerate your business continuity plans with robust automation.