Shining a Light on Automation Oversight
Part 8 in a series of posts about Data Protection as a Service. This is the second of two posts on automation… (Also posted on Cobalt Iron’s blog)
The first part of this series explored the need for automation in modern backup solutions. Not just automating existing operations, but seeking out and demanding best practices to protect enterprise business.
Mike Matchett, Small World Big Data
When thinking about the best way to approach enterprise data backup, automation ranks high on the list of goals. Automation means consistency, reliability, and out of sight, out of mind — and this can be a dangerous position.
Automation without oversight is a recipe for failure at scale. The larger the operation that is automated, the more checks and balances in the form of monitoring and quality/integrity checks are required. Monitoring goes hand in hand with smart automation (and sometimes provides built-in optimization feedback). It must be built-in to help identify when things don’t fully compute, when scripts can’t run, and when and where protection coverage isn’t complete.
Data protection automation at scale also needs to be securely operated. Perhaps even more securely than the data it’s operating over. If automation processes can be hijacked or hoodwinked, recovery may be impossible.
The solution to achieving great data protection coverage — faster, better, and more cost-effective — through automation lies in engaging with companies that have deep technical expertise, have years of experience embedding best practices for applications at scale, and can truly offer intelligent data protection automation. More than that, there is a growing need for a trusted partner that is in business to build and evolve even better automated data protection over time.
Examples of automation with oversight might include integration of the backup solution with enterprise orchestration tools such as ServiceNow and Remedy to ensure that backup is receiving the same level of visibility as other critical business operations. A second example would be a solution that automatically detects and provisions backup services for newly created virtual machines. Another example would be a solution that proactively resolves problems by leveraging the power of analytics.
One point of view is that IT automation is really about stress reduction, even though most people talk about the beneficial impacts in terms of process efficiency, risk and cost reduction, and even service assurance. This line of thinking about automation advocates that if people are not sitting directly in the critical path, then they can’t disrupt the operation, intentionally or unintentionally.
To be clear, this is not suggesting that people should be taken out of IT. Rather, that when critical recurring jobs just get done automatically — the backups run, the data is validated, and all the systems are protected — smart people can move on to bigger and better uses of their time and creative energy.
So really, what’s better than automating backup best practices, smartly AND securely? If that can be accomplished, rather than just repetitively running through spotty procedures, IT professionals will discover time to innovate and add new value to the business.