Automation and hybrid cloud: can it go too far?
To manage the myriad of potential combinations of public and private cloud services into an efficient and secure hybrid cloud architecture, automating key aspects such as provisioning and other common processes is now not only viable but the leading solution.
This was the central message from the speakers at the latest in the TechFire series. Clive Freeman, chief technologist, UK Enterprise Group, Hewlett-Packard EMEA, outlined how automation can bring together the best of cloud and as-a-service options in a cohesive and manageable way. In the panel discussion, Freeman addressed the fears expressed by attendees that perhaps such automation could go too far.
Freeman said that this kind of automation, which brings together several common actions that form a specific, often required task, does not really pose such risks. He said that the only real danger would be that if the automation execution locked-in a business process so rigidly that it required serious effort to change, if the business process itself were superseded. Beyond this, Freeman said that such automation merely allows IT departments to quickly and efficiently bring together elements of a task, irrespective of their source, that would otherwise require a significant amount of human action.
Barry Lowry, director IT Services & Strategy, Northern Ireland Civil Service, and NICS head of ICT Profession, spoke about how the service was enabled to not only deliver higher quality services to more than 40 different agencies, but also to reduce the cost of such services to be competitive with external providers. This meant that the shared service provider was able to win business from agencies that either previously had gone to third parties or had relied on internal resources.
Lowry said that far from losing people from IT, the adoption of these automation services had allowed him to reallocate people, based on their own preferences, cross and up-skilling as required. This had allowed him to recruit where gaps emerged, but leaving him with a highly engaged workforce that was motivated to drive the development and adoption even further.
Another key benefit of the automated architecture, which features a single, unified network connecting more than 300 buildings and employing a single Active Directory structure, was the ability to provide home and remote working facilities to any user that required them. Lowry said that as public sector agencies looked to reduce costly real estate footprints, being able to offer remote working to anyone with a broadband connection was a major boon.
The next in the TechFire series, in association with Comtrade, on 22 October in Dublin, will look at the changing nature of technology outsourcing where the new technology partners are becoming innovation partners too. For more information and to register see the TechFire web site.