Organizations are facing many (often conflicting) challenges and decision points as they work towards building an IT infrastructure that supports their users, partners, suppliers and vendors. Chief among the challenges is preventing downtime. According to the 2016 Ponemon National Study on Data Center Outages, there are 3 major factors leading to downtime: UPS failure, human error and exceeding UPS capacity. The Ponemon study lists human error as being responsible for 22% of outages while other studies have it listed as high as 75%. Regardless of the actual figure, it is easy to see that human error is a leading cause of downtime. After all, IT is a pressure business and people are error prone. This leads to lack of planning, poor maintenance monitoring and poor operational governance.
The good news is that we can still mitigate against the possibility of human error resulting in downtime. Systems can be designed in such a way to require almost no human interaction at all. Truly available systems are intelligent and are designed to keep as many hands off the system as possible. This reduces mean time to recovery and improves availability.
Automating administration of common system tasks such as monitoring, mitigation response and recovery significantly reduces or eliminates the need for manual intervention. (Beyond taking action faster than humans, autonomous operation also removes chance for human error.)
Even user interfaces should be as simple and intuitive as possible to use (without special training) – eliminating guesswork, reducing chance of human error taking the system offline.
There is still an important place for system administrators within the autonomous IT world. The effect of automation is to shift their roles to working on the application layer instead of administering the platform. Or offering advice and guidance on the development of systems and services to take the organization forward. Automation has actually added value to the system administrator role all the while making the platform more reliable.
Today’s smart IT professionals are looking beyond traditional hyperconverged and high-availability platforms for intelligent systems that elevate ease of use and functionality such as autonomous operation to new heights. It is these kinds of intelligent platforms that will allow organizations to use IT as a competitive advantage to lower total cost of ownership and improve operational continuity.