Automate Digitalization

Digitalization Automation

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I've recently started to drown my head into automation again - this time from the Cloud. This article appeared on the NJINN Blog!

It’s the age of Digitalization. And we’ve hit its focal point the hard way. While some are still working on the C-level slideware to explain “Digitalization” to the Execs, others have already formulated their entire strategy (that’s quite something, yes)

And then nature f….. back with a little virus – and showed us all how much of what is possible that has been inconceivable so far

  • not boarding planes and still talking to people
  • sitting at another place than usual and still doing valuable work
  • internet for everybody

What’s not possible, though, is an IT department’s human scale-up (it’s still only so much to be squeezed into a day) or scale-out (HR says “no” – to hiring).

If only there was less of the usual duties so to focus more on the specifics that a crisis brings about.

Not possible? – Well, if only we would have automated earlier …

So now, after having invested the past few weeks entirely to enable your staff to work from home, let’s look into some very basic standards that every IT department can automate. Must automate.

1. I need VPN access

In the Cloud age, VPN still has not seized to be. I wasn’t even surprised how many of our customers fought the load of VPN access requests to be accomplished. Large enterprises mostly still have an on-demand authorization policy for VPN. Which means: Request it – we check it – then you get it.

Still, VPN – configured correctly – is entirely secure. And can be provisioned entirely automatically (even if your company’s policy requires to raise a request).

Here’s were Automation comes into play:

  • Have a little self-service portal form ready for your users
  • As per the organizational information from HR (data integration), push any submitted request to the respective manager for approval
  • Add the user’s credential information to the respective permission level (grouping and policies can help with full/split scenarios and geo-located endpoints)

The flow itself is easily constructed; any specifics of your setup are scripted within the Automation solution’s action blocks. Period. No human interaction on such simple requests anymore.

2. We need a team space for our project

Your project teams probably all found creative ways to collaborate. And still do – especially when working from home. Even though you have a really great and well-working collaboration solution for project teams at the tip of a finger.

So why this self-service “creativity”? Because just now (in times of this crisis), it takes the IT department ages to setup their collaboration space. Even though you have done it umpteenth times. It also takes you ages to reach the requestor at the other end to squeeze out that last important detail. Because they’re already at home. And on-off, of course. And still they need this space.

Well, then let them create them. Of course, alongside your IT policies, naming conventions, permission structures. The solution:

  • Self-service form for request data (including any of the details that caused you numerous phone calls in the past)
  • If need be, pass it on for approval
  • Automated space/channel/team/… setup as per company policy including group setup, permission structure, etc. …

Done. No human interaction needed. Spot-on for the CEO’s home WiFi improvement.

3. I need a VM for testing

Since the very beginning of the Cloud age the “I need a VM now” use case was one of the most stressed classics.

However, while the focus tended to be on the capability of executing the ramp-up “on the instant”, end-2-end automating such requests tended to be neglected.

Needs are the same as before:

  • Self-service portal for requesting the need (and parametrizing it to the extend necessary for execution)
  • The Automation engine to execute the request respectively in any involved platform (again, this may not only involve the hypervisor but also any request audit tracking, monitoring solution to keep the new VM stable, permission structure to allow/reject according need, etc.)

Self-service, is what you need in these challenging times

And why is this:

Because none of the requests an IT department is getting these days is standard by any means. These requests need your attention, creativity, flexibility, spontaneity.

Having to deal with umpteenth standard “no-brainer” requests at the same time keeps you from being the support you ought to be in times of crisis.

Are you through it, already? Then, now is the time to pick the Automation tool of choice and start cleaning up with manual standard requests.

And – behold! – there’s another advantage: No more documenting for audit purposes – if your Automation engine of choice does it for you.

So: Eat. Sleep. Automate. Repeat.

Feature image by Emiliano Arano from Pexels

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