Self-Service: How Automation Helps You Help Yourself

by December 5, 2017

Traditional self-service approaches have been at odds with our expectations of the digital age. Automation resolves these issues.

For a long time, there has been a disconnect between our personal and professional lives. Day-to-day, we demand efficiency and fluidity. If a process is cumbersome or takes too much time, we abandon it in favor of a more streamlined solution. Time, after all, is our most valuable commodity and we’re certainly not going to waste it. Yet, when it comes to our professional lives, it appears we have time to burn – we most certainly don’t. Historically, self-service has been a stumbling block for many organizations. This shortcoming is even more pronounced as we move further into the digital age.

At home, if I were to request a new application on my smartphone, I’d expect it to download instantly. That application should be available in seconds or, at worst, minutes. As users, we’re not prepared to wait days and weeks for our software updates or stability patches. That said, there’s a big difference between downloading a smartphone application and fulfilling the self-service requests of the modern enterprise.

Our home computing is, to a point, limited. Although we have myriad connected devices (smartphones, tablets, games consoles, watches and so on), typically they utilize just one or two operating systems. Android, iOS and Windows are among the most prevalent. Developers are optimizing for very specific operating platforms, which have little if any variance in system configuration.

When we look at the needs of the modern enterprise, however, we see a much more varied digital topography.

Self-Service Hurdles

Businesses of all sizes operate under highly heterogeneous environments. Different staff members require different systems, applications and permissions in order to complete their work. It’s a complex environment, with companies often turning to public cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft or Google in order to try and address their urgent application needs.

But migrating to a public cloud isn’t always a viable long-term solution. Although it addresses some of the immediate short-comings associated with application needs, it introduces a whole host of new challenges. Public cloud solutions are no less complex than the internal, heterogeneous environment enterprises currently run. More than anything though, in terms of self-service, over time they can be cost-prohibitive.

Public cloud solutions offer a ‘window’, so to speak, from which self-service options can be provisioned. The idea, as the name suggests, is to eliminate the middle-man and facilitate automated self-service. However, when a public cloud solution inevitably crashes, or fails, resolutions can be hard to come by. Phone support is often an additional premium.

Self-service solutions based on a public cloud have come a long way since their inception. Yet, for all their advances, they are still best suited to infrastructure provisioning based totally in that particular public cloud. Although their capabilities can facilitate more varied requests, these are often tucked away in unintuitive menus, or are clunky and poorly integrated – particularly in hybrid environments. Immediately, this defeats the idea of streamlined self-service, which should be rapid in making requests, and resolutions should be found in a similar timescale. Slow user interfaces and poor customer experiences are inhibitors which simply slow business down.

As is becoming increasingly obvious, security is a major concern many businesses are faced with. Utilizing a public cloud option creates another potential vulnerability. Although security is a major priority for cloud providers, they are not infallible, as a cursory google will prove.

A further concern is cost: by and large, public cloud providers charge by the minute, and don’t typically provide automated deprovisioning capabilities. Resources need to be manually told to spin down, meaning you could be faced with unnecessarily large bills.

So, what’s the answer?

A dedicated automation solution could help you solve all the above. CA Automic Service Orchestration enables automatic monitoring and problem resolution, simultaneous support for multiple cloud providers and can help eliminate VM sprawl. CA Automic Service Orchestration offers true business automation, which takes steps to automatically deliver the requested service, only for as long as it is required. It simplifies the entire process of making and handling requests, requiring few – if any – manual steps along the way. All this is achieved through a familiar user interface, as it integrates with popular IT service management tools and service catalogs.

CA Automic Service Orchestration introduces the fluidity we demand of the digital age to our professional lives, bringing our working habits in line with those we enjoy in our private life. Get in touch to find out how CA Technologies automation can help streamline your business!