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What is IT Automation? Definition & Examples

Just like a smart home system can automate routine tasks such as adjusting the thermostat, controlling the lights, or securing the doors, IT automation can streamline repetitive IT tasks. This includes operations such as reviewing user access, employee offboarding, or monitoring SaaS adoption within an organization.

By setting up these tasks to function automatically based on specific rules or triggers, IT automation can make managing IT systems more efficient, secure, and less prone to human error.

What are IT Automation, Orchestration & Optimization?

IT automation is using software to create repeatable processes to replace manual IT tasks in data centers and cloud deployments. It involves minimal administrator intervention and can range from single actions to complex sequences and autonomous operations based on user behavior and event triggers.

It is crucial to understand the difference between IT automation and orchestration. Automation handles repetitive tasks without human intervention, while orchestration coordinates them into a cohesive workflow for IT and business operations.

Have a look: A Risk-Based Approach for Achieving Harmony

IT optimization, another related concept, focuses on reducing liabilities and increasing operational efficiency, maximizing business output at minimal cost.

Benefits of IT Automation

Operational Efficiency

IT automation significantly speeds up operations like provisioning and deployment. What once took weeks can now be done in hours with a few clicks, enhancing agility and keeping pace with a fast-moving business environment. 

Cost Optimization

IT automation reduces the need for manual labor, thereby decreasing infrastructure costs. It enhances resource utilization, increases IT productivity, and lowers expenses associated with human error. Automating routine tasks, such as system configuration and renewal management, directly translates to operational cost savings. 

Additionally, it enables efficient tracking and management of all applications and assets, including free or trial accounts, users, and devices. This unified inventory approach allows for comprehensive monitoring of app adoption within the organization, providing clear insights into SaaS usage. 

Security and Accuracy

Automated processes are less prone to errors as they consistently perform tasks without deviation. This reliability allows IT professionals to deploy applications with confidence. 

Automation also limits human interaction, reduces security breach risks, and enforces security and compliance policies effectively, aiding in regulatory compliance.

System Integrity

Eliminating manual tasks through automation enhances service reliability and availability. IT automation is designed with quality metrics and standard operating procedures, ensuring consistent service delivery. It also streamlines disaster recovery processes and reduces service downtime, providing more rapid and consistent IT service delivery.

How IT Automation Works

IT automation uses software to minimize human involvement with IT systems by creating repeatable instructions and processes. This helps streamline complex processes, tasks, or systems within the IT environment. Here's a brief overview of how it works:

1. Identify tasks suitable for IT automation, such as maintenance, updates, or user management.

2. Write scripts or use specialized IT automation software tools.

3. Schedule the IT automation tool to execute the scripts at specific times or in response to certain events.

4. The automation software executes tasks such as copying files, sending notifications, monitoring system health, or generating reports.

5. Monitor and log automated tasks for errors or issues.

6. Continuous monitoring and feedback refine the automation processes.

IT Automation process

What IT Automation is Used for?

IT Automation has many potential use cases, but some of the most common ones include user provisioning, network management, and security automation, such as monitoring and response. IT automation is also helpful in incident management, as it can help companies reduce downtime and the associated costs by quickly creating and assigning incident management tickets, resulting in faster remediation and recovery.

Suggested Resource: SaaS User Management Playbook

By automating crucial tasks and capabilities, especially during testing, organizations can deploy their applications more efficiently and with fewer spaces for human error. Application deployment automation enables companies to progress more systematically from committing and building to testing and deployment. IT automation allows organizations to confidently deploy their applications, configure necessary services from the outset, and retrieve their applications and artifacts from a repository as needed.

What IT Automation is Used for?
Gartner

Automation can also help enforce security, compliance, and risk management policies. IT operations managers can build remediation steps as automated processes throughout their infrastructure, keeping security at the forefront of their IT processes easier.

Challenges of IT Automation

IT automation can be challenging to implement for certain aspects. The three most common of these challenges are:

  • Scalability: Many IT automation tools require a certain level of technical expertise to use, in which the employees may show resistance to participating in the process in building and maintaining the automation. This situation can slow down the automation process and make implementing and sustaining automation at scale challenging.
  • Optimization: It is necessary to periodically assess IT processes to identify areas of improvement and eliminate outdated practices. Automation can be a valuable tool for these assessments and improvements. Still, it may take time to implement, especially if the organization has many processes or requires technical expertise to use automation tools.
  • Identifying the Return on Investment (ROI): While some benefits, such as cost savings, can be easily measured, others, such as improved employee experience, are more challenging to quantify. It can also be difficult to consistently assess and report on the impact of specific IT automation. All these factors combined can make it challenging to make the case for IT automation, especially when resources are limited.

5 Examples of IT Automation with Resmo

Offboard Employees Swift & Secure

Efficient and secure offboarding of employees is a critical yet challenging IT responsibility. This process involves identifying the applications used by departing employees (including any unauthorized or shadow IT), revoking their access, and ensuring that company data within these applications is either securely transferred or deleted. Neglecting these steps can lead to security vulnerabilities, unnecessary expenses due to unused software licenses, and potential compliance risks. Achieving a clear dashboard and completing offboarding tasks is gratifying and essential for maintaining IT integrity.

Employee Offboarding Statistics
Common IT Offboarding Mistakes to Avoid

Resmo's employee offboarding automates this comprehensive process with minimal effort, ensuring thoroughness and security. This automation guarantees that no aspect is overlooked during the offboarding process, making it an effective solution for managing employee transitions.

Explore more: Employee SaaS Offboarding with Resmo

Detect & Manage Shared Accounts

Using shared accounts, where multiple employees access the same SaaS tool with a single set of login credentials, can be a cost-effective strategy. However, it's crucial to monitor these shared accounts closely for security reasons. While shared accounts may seem practical at first, they can pose significant security risks if not properly managed.

Resmo identifies and tracks each shared account, providing detailed user information. This capability keeps users informed about shared account usage and enables intervention when accounts not intended for sharing are being used by multiple employees. With Resmo, users can effectively address the security challenges of shared accounts.

Have a Look: How to Manage Shared Account Risks with Resmo

Stay Up-to-Date on Upcoming Renewals

Many of us have faced the challenge of unintended SaaS renewals. Keeping track of all subscriptions can be a daunting and sometimes impossible task. 

Resmo provides a comprehensive solution to manage and monitor SaaS subscriptions, ensuring that organizations stay informed about their renewal dates. This proactive approach not only prevents unexpected renewals but also aids in better subscription management, offering insights into which services are essential and which may no longer be needed.

Review User Access

Ensuring that all resources are accessible only by authorized users while adhering to the principle of least privilege is a complex task to manage manually. 

Privileged access management (PAM) is the set of cybersecurity strategies and technologies that control the elevated ("privileged") access and permissions for users, accounts, processes, and systems across an IT environment.

Resmo allows for straightforward user access management by letting users select a SaaS app and determine the frequency of access reviews. The platform efficiently identifies and revokes access for unauthorized ('shadow') users. With the ability to set due dates for reviews, Resmo ensures that these access checks are performed regularly and on time. Options for setting continuous review periods ‚Äď monthly, quarterly, or annually ‚Äď guarantee ongoing monitoring and security.

Additionally, Resmo's consolidated audit log, which records all user actions including those of administrators, is invaluable for audits and investigations. This log is crucial for spotting unusual activities and swiftly addressing potential security threats.

Suggested Reading: Introducing Role-Based Access (RBAC) Management

Discover Unassigned Accounts & Unauthorized Apps

Unassigned SaaS accounts are user accounts within a SaaS application that haven't been allocated to a specific employee or user. These accounts, which might result from employee turnover, redundant accounts, or incomplete onboarding, can lead to resource wastage, security risks, and compliance issues. The 'Unassigned Accounts' action page in Resmo displays all such accounts in one place, allowing IT teams to easily review and assign them, ask colleagues for reviews, send reminders for reviews, or decide to ignore or delete them.

Additionally, unauthorized app usage poses a challenge for organizations. These are SaaS applications used without the IT team’s approval or knowledge. On Resmo's 'Unauthorized Apps' page, you can view all detected unauthorized apps. The platform enables actions such as asking employees to delete their unauthorized accounts, seeking clarifications, suggesting secure alternatives approved by the IT team, or deleting the accounts.

Review OAuth Permissions & Detect OAuth Vulnerabilities

In OAuth, there's a risk when a potentially harmful app gains access to your information, as it could misuse this data or act on your behalf. Moreover, if you inadvertently authorize a risky app, your information could be compromised. Therefore, it's crucial to monitor which users and apps are granted permission vigilantly. OAuth allows websites or applications to interact with each other on your behalf without needing your password.

OAuth, short for "Open Authorization," is an industry-standard protocol that enables secure and authorized access to resources owned by one application on behalf of another.

Resmo assists in managing this aspect by providing a detailed inventory of OAuth grants made by employees across platforms like Google, Microsoft, GitHub, Zoom, and Slack. It features advanced OAuth filtering capabilities, enabling you to manage and analyze your organization's OAuth usage efficiently. These filters allow sorting and categorizing OAuth grants based on criteria that align with your security needs.

FAQ

What is automation in IT industry?

IT automation refers to the use of software and systems that can perform automated processes and tasks, which in turn replaces the manual work done by IT professionals. This technology accelerates the processes that were previously done through human interaction, making them more swift and secure compared to manual handling.

What are the 4 types of automation?

There are four types of automation: fixed automation, programmable automation, flexible automation, and integrated automation. 

  • Fixed automation, also known as hard automation, is designed to perform a single set of tasks repeatedly.¬†
  • Programmable automation systems are controlled by computer programs that provide commands.
  • Flexible automation, also known as soft automation, is generally utilized in batch processes that involve a range of products.¬†
  • Integrated automation systems are designed to automate manufacturing plants with minimal human intervention fully.

What is meant by IT process automation?

IT process automation (ITPA) involves automating IT services, support, and administration through workflows, reducing the time and cost of manual management.

What is the IT operations automation strategy?

An IT automation strategy is a systematic approach or framework for implementing and utilizing automation technologies within an organization's IT infrastructure. The primary goal of this strategy is to identify, evaluate, and implement automation tools and techniques that can streamline IT operations, improve efficiency, and enhance overall productivity. By doing so, the strategy helps organizations enhance their overall IT infrastructure and ensure that their IT operations are efficient and effective.

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