While information technology is intended to make enterprises run more efficiently, many find it difficult to manage multiple software platforms to meet business goals, according to a survey released Aug. 1 by BMC Software.
The survey, conducted for BMC by Forrester Consulting, reveals that as many as 90 percent of 448 IT professionals surveyed in June report major problems integrating IT automation tools across multiple software platforms.
Problems include a lack of synchronization between job runs requiring excessive manual intervention, reported by 48 percent of respondents; critical jobs not done in time to meet business needs (48 percent); critical files not transferred in time (44 percent); and excessive manual work to transfer a job from one platform to another (36 percent).
The problem stems from enterprises grappling with different sets of automation tools for their Unix, Linux, Windows, mainframe, Oracle or SAP platforms, said Saar Shwartz, a marketing director BMC Software.
"The main issue that companies are seeing with that kind of approach is that they are finding themselves using multiple automation tools with no real ability to integrate," Shwartz said.
He compared IT automation to factory automation, such as at an auto assembly line. Over the last several decades, automation has streamlined manufacturing processes so that different parts of a car, like the seats or dashboard, arrive at the assembly line just when they are to be installed in the car. Automation also avoids the mistake of putting a blue door on a red car, he added.
Businesses need automation of IT for the same reasons to integrate various IT platforms, improve efficiency and hold down costs, Shwartz said.
"They are looking to automate more parts of IT so that IT becomes more predictable, more cost-effective and less error-prone," he said.
IT automation tools, like those from BMC and other vendors such as CA, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, offer that integration of multiple platforms, according to the Forrester survey. It reduces errors that require manual intervention, according to 76 percent of respondents; it improves on-time completion of batch jobs (54 percent); it reduces the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees needed to handle batch scheduling (54 percent); and provides better control of all batch activities (51 percent).
The survey also illustrates the importance of making IT automation tools self-service so that end users can make IT decisions about a particular project in a self-service manner so they don't have to contact the IT staff as often as they would without IT automation. According to this survey of 472 IT decision makers, 55 percent of respondents said self-service capability is important, and 73 percent said it improves user satisfaction.
Self-service makes it possible for a line-of-business manager to check on some part of the operation through an IT automation dashboard without interrupting the work of others and without having to contact the IT staff, said Shwartz.
"It's one less thing for the operations staff to worry about. It makes it easier for us to complete jobs within our batch window," added Rusty Clark, a data center supervisor with the city of Long Beach, Calif., and a BMC customer, in a statement.
While larger companies like CA, HP and IBM also offer IT automation tools, Shwartz said it's the primary focus area of BMC, while those other competitors offer all sorts of other software and hardware.