How to Automate IT Service Delivery

By Ryan Shopp  |  Posted 2011-01-26

How to Automate IT Service Delivery

The primary objective of most IT departments in moving to a dynamic data center is to automate 80 percent of existing requests so that they can be fulfilled with minimal staff intervention, while ensuring that the other 20 percent (which are typically more complex and custom) can be given the attention and expertise they deserve.

Automating such routine tasks as server provisioning and configuration management can make the IT department as a whole entirely more productive. Moreover, removing the human element where it is unnecessary significantly increases user satisfaction and speed of delivery. It also reduces risk because it decreases manual errors, heavy redundancies and painful time lags synonymous with e-mail-based and ticket-based systems.

While many enterprise IT departments have implemented an underlying service catalog technology, a comprehensive solution for service requests, subscription, delivery, cost allocation and measurement remains mostly elusive and an aspiration. If automating self-service for a traditional IT infrastructure is an ongoing goal, then it is an absolute necessity for those seeking it to evolve to one that includes a mixture of physical, virtual and cloud platforms. Only then can they address demand management across the entire environment and ensure that their resources are appropriately supporting that demand.

Automating service delivery

The key is to fully automate service delivery today and leverage that foundation as an integral part of the infrastructure-one where self-service extends to any and all technologies including private and public clouds-in the future. As a result, organizations can successfully optimize resources across the operational environment, freeing up additional working capacity to support ongoing and increasing business demand. To that aim, they must:

1. Centralize requests, automate delivery and tightly integrate the underlying technologies,

2. Ensure process automation across the enterprise including departments, domains and systems,

3. Incorporate the service delivery strategy into the overarching cloud strategy in order to ensure a dynamic infrastructure, and

4. Automate fulfillment channels of that business demand across multiple IT domains including security, asset management and infrastructure management.

Four Steps to the Dynamic Data Center

Four steps to the dynamic data center

Step No 1: Automating and integrating service catalog and service request delivery

While a service catalog publishes standardized IT offerings, it is only as effective as the technology and processes it supports. Too often, enterprises are marred by multiple request portals and inconsistent procedures that leave internal customers confused and frustrated. Systems backed by e-mail communications and ticket applications feel like black holes because there is no visibility into status for users and an abundance of redundancies and time lags on both sides.

What's more, this lack of standardization creates a situation where every request is treated as entirely new, leading to a tendency to reinvent the wheel and an IT environment where inconsistency and unapproved configurations are the norm-and the cost of delivery is high.

The answer is to first empower users with self-service capabilities that create necessary structure and enrich the overall experience in such areas as incident management, knowledge management, support automation, labs on demand, service requests, and subscription and request fulfillment and provisioning.

Step No. 2: Ensuring process automation across the enterprise

Once the comprehensive, underlying service technologies are in place, companies can cross business units and domains in order to orchestrate processes beyond IT and into the departments and functions necessary for execution. All necessary tasks, communications and status can be facilitated, managed and viewed throughout the enterprise from a centralized location, delivering a single version of truth. This helps to coordinate and control work efforts. This also reduces the time it takes to provision physical server and virtual machines. It provides the necessary foundation for orchestrating service delivery across complex environments consisting of the cloud, service providers, suppliers and customers.

Automating Fulfillment Channels of Business Demand

Step No. 3: Automating fulfillment channels of business demand across multiple functional domains

Such a highly orchestrated environment also helps to connect the silos within an organization such that they no longer exist in terms of user experience and enterprise procedures. With automated service delivery, for instance, a single action can seamlessly trigger multiple actions and tasks across an organization's domains-without any additional human intervention necessary.

Step No. 4: Incorporating the service delivery strategy into the cloud strategy

Done right, a comprehensive cloud strategy addresses the specifics of what will be provisioned, as well as how it will be delivered. For instance, a private cloud might provide capacity for typical IT services and a public cloud might be employed when a specific operational group requires a quick, finite burst for a special project.

If both technologies have been incorporated into the dynamic data center, users can automatically provision these options as easily as they currently consume physical and virtual resources. This, in turn, facilitates the agility attracting enterprises to the cloud to begin with, essentially delivering on the promise of the technology. Moreover, the flexibility helps minimize overall IT complexity by allowing organizations to use a single tool to manage virtualization and cloud technologies from various vendors.

Ryan Shopp is a Senior Director of Product Marketing for CA. In this role, Ryan focuses on thought leadership, strategy, positioning, sales enablement and evangelism for one of CA's product portfolios. Ryan's 15+ years of domain expertise in IT infrastructure and management span leadership roles in marketing, product management and sales engineering for Dell, INS (acquired by Alcatel-Lucent), AT&T, EDS and startups such as Securityworks (acquired by Lumension), NetVMG (acquired by Internap), Centrata (acquired by Lontra) and AlterPoint (acquired by Versata). As a subject matter expert, Ryan has blogged and presented at numerous trade shows and events. Ryan earned a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University and has multiple industry certifications. He can be reached at

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