The Data Center Dream Team: Your Staff and Automation

The Data Center Dream Team: Your Staff and Automation

This article was originally published in Data Center Knowledge.

It is coming. We have been fully warned that a massive shortage of qualified technology professionals is going to quickly become our reality. But thanks to the increasing abundance of available data, along with innovative tools for gathering, processing, deciphering and storing that data, machine learning algorithms can now be used to produce fast, affordable results for businesses of every size and industry.

Automation and machine learning have become force multipliers and game changers for many organizations because it means that they are no longer constrained by data center staff or budget limitations. There are some basic yet unavoidable factors are driving the need for these new technologies, but fortunately technology leaders today have options to solve today’s most pressing challenges.

A Glaring Need

Today’s data center professionals are under increasing pressure to accomplish more with fewer and fewer resources. Increasing amounts of available information make manual data management a full-time endeavor. For those operations with limited staff or smaller budgets, finding extra support can be an uphill battle. Furthermore, customer demand and an increasingly competitive landscape have placed significant burdens on IT leaders.

Automation’s Role

IT automation technology facilitates a shift from human (manual) processes to machine, enabling the agentless execution of critical data center tasks and workflows, including but not limited to:

  • Monitoring – Continuously scan and track the status of data center components with automated notification and escalation in the event of a problem
  • Maintenance – Automatic performance of ongoing functions, such as updates and patches
  • Scheduling – Organize the automatic execution of routine data center processes, including backups, downloads/uploads, replication, application events and more without the need for human effort
  • Provisioning and Configuration – Development, testing and deployment of new applications, including physical, virtual and cloud servers
  • Application Service Delivery – Automatic fulfillment of user requests within just minutes
  • Optimized Workload Delivery – Automatic movement of network traffic for better load balancing and/or on-demand delivery of additional applications
  • Security – Automate the incident response process from start to finish, creating a closed loop to quickly detect and address threats, mitigating damages
  • Compliance – Audit and report on live configurations, compare current and past configurations to identify discrepancies and implement rules-based policies to adhere to regulatory standards – all without the need for human intervention

By adopting automation technology, data center professionals are no longer burdened with the challenge of performing many of their duties without disrupting end-users. Previously, things like system refreshes and updates had to be carried out after hours to avoid a potential service interruption. Now, these workflows can be scheduled and executed automatically, alleviating the need for IT staff members to work odd hours.

Automation + Intelligence

Beyond the basics of data center automation, some of today’s platforms are now incorporating intelligent technologies, like machine learning, into the mix. So, not only can IT teams streamline operations by automating manual processes, but they can now rely on the power of artificial intelligence to achieve continuous process improvement.

Automated platforms powered by sophisticated machine learning algorithms, use available data to dynamically create rule-based recommendations, insights and correlations. This enables better data-driven decision making and facilitates more optimized workflows and processes. As a result, not only does the data center itself run more efficiently, but the enhanced service that occurs as a result drives greater customer and employee satisfaction rates. In other words, everyone benefits.

Considerations for IT Leaders

Given the advantages automation can have for the data center, it can be tempting to automate everything. However, IT leaders are better served to take a more comprehensive approach to data center automation. When planning for automation, be sure to consider the following:

Automate intelligently. That is, don’t just automate processes for the sake of it. Instead, processes and workflows should be evaluated and weighed based on each one’s business value as well as the quantifiable outcomes that could be realized as a result of automation.

Practice in with the new and out with the old. Whenever possible, focus should be placed on automating newer processes and workflows first rather than trying to adapt old processes to automation – unless, of course, significant ROI could be realized by changing the existing workflows.

Start small and work from there. An incremental approach to automation is recommended, as it’s always easier to automate basic functions than it is to tackle large scale projects right off the bat. Start with smaller initiatives that can be built upon.

Test first, then deploy. It’s always advisable to experiment with automation changes in a test or QA environment before going live with them. In the absence of a test environment, look for ways to deploy automation incrementally rather than exposing the entire data center to a complete automation change.

There are many cases for which automation can and should be considered thanks to the rapidly evolving technology landscape. For example, IoT deployments are steadily on the rise and adding to the complexity of the data center, making the role of data management in business even more crucial. And increasingly IT teams need the ability to leverage the power of data to meet enterprise-wide objectives, but may lack the qualified staff and resources needed to produce what is needed.

When applied appropriately and strategically, automation technology has the potential to empower data centers – even those with limited resources – to perform at the highest level and yield greater outcomes than were ever thought possible.

5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation

Shaping The Future Of Work: A Collaboration Of Humans And AI

Shaping The Future Of Work: A Collaboration Of Humans And AI

Article originally published on Forbes (Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images)

Since the industrial revolution, business leaders have been leveraging technology to augment human workers with the goal of maximizing efficiency and productivity while simultaneously cutting costs. Now, thanks to the recent tidal wave of intelligent technology advancement, we have suddenly found ourselves staring down the barrel of a workplace that looks quite different than the one we have become used to.

What do automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) mean for tomorrow’s workforce? Will AI eliminate the need for human workers altogether? The reality isn’t quite so cut and dry. In fact, the future of work will likely be a hybrid that involves both human and machine intelligence working in conjunction toward the same shared goals. Let’s explore this in a little more detail.

Redefining The Way We Work

The basic concept behind automation hasn’t changed all that much over the past century or so. When menial tasks can be shifted from human employees to robots, work can be completed faster and without the risk of human error. This dramatically improves efficiency levels, which means a better bottom line for an organization as a whole. And because the output of quality of work increases, service levels also receive a boost, so in theory, everybody wins.

However, automation powered by artificial intelligence has taken this basic concept and brought it to an entirely new level. Now, it’s not just about programming a machine to perform simple tasks; rather, it’s about relying on technology that is intuitive enough to adapt and improve without the need for human input. Take chatbots, for example. This technology is capable of using the data gathered over time from incoming customer inquiries to continuously develop a robust catalog of answers. In other words, the more it’s used, the smarter it becomes.

A New Realm Of Possibilities

Automation will inevitably lead to redundancy in certain roles. It’s only logical to assume that if software robots are capable of performing the majority of a lower-skilled employee’s tasks, it’s a much more economical business decision to shift those duties to technology, subsequently making certain roles obsolete. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that we’re doomed to a future of humanless offices. The truth is that while automation may eliminate some jobs, it also creates new roles and opportunities for human workers to pursue.

It’s also important to point out that as far as intelligent automation has come, there are still certain areas where the human touch cannot be replaced or replicated. For instance, a chatbot can be programmed to perform basic customer support, but it is not capable of managing complex situations. Likewise, intelligent automation can be highly effective in identifying ideal candidates for a job opening, but the actual hiring process is still a human-centric function.

Humans And Machines: A Match Made In Heaven

Ideally, the best way to approach the adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace is to view it from a more holistic perspective. Rather than machines and humans working independently, the two should be working in tandem toward the greater good of an organization. For example, process automation can be leveraged to handle the majority of the mundane, repetitive IT tasks while seamlessly transferring more complex issues to human workers.

AI can also be highly effective in helping business leaders make smarter, more data-driven decisions. Machines handle the data mining process, identifying, extracting and organizing the most relevant information available. Executives can then use this information to more accurately project and plan for the future. This facilitates greater innovation, which means those enterprises who adopt AI will lead the charge in their respective fields.

A New Definition Of Work

As artificial intelligence continues to evolve and improve, the very definition of what we consider to be mundane or routine will also continue to change. With smarter technology, more and more tasks will be shifted to machines. In fact, according to a recent report from Gartner, smart machines and robots could take over the tasks performed by highly trained professionals in such fields as IT, medicine and law by 2022.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean certain unemployment for those individuals working on the front lines. To the contrary, according to one study conducted by ServiceNow, 79% of executives surveyed say they expect an increase in the adoption of automation to lead to the creation of new jobs. Furthermore, an incredible 94% agreed that when repetitive tasks are automated, the demand for jobs that call for soft skills like communication, collaboration and creative problem-solving will grow.

Ultimately, it’s the way human workers approach this technology that will determine what tomorrow will bring. For those who choose to embrace artificial intelligence and all of the opportunities it presents, the future certainly looks bright.

This article was originally published on Forbes as part of the Forbes Technology Council. To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

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5 Practical Ways Machine Learning is Improving Business Operations

5 Practical Ways Machine Learning is Improving Business OperationsToday’s forward-thinking organizations are leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to automate the decision making process. In fact, corporate investment in AI is predicted to reach $100 billion by the year 2025. As a result of this rapid digital transformation, many changes are underway in the workplace. In particular, there are a number of ways that machine learning is already making an impact for companies in every industry. Here are a few to consider.

Personalizing the customer experience.

One of the most exciting benefits machine learning can have for businesses is the fact that it can help improve the customer experience while also lowering costs. Through things like deep data mining, natural language processing and continuous learning algorithms, customers can receive highly personalized support with little to no human intervention. And people are warming to the idea. In fact, 44% of US consumers say they actually prefer chatbots to human agents.

Improving loyalty and retention.

With machine learning, companies can do a deep dive into customer behavior to identify those who are at a higher risk of churning. This enables organizations to develop and implement next steps designed to target and retain those high-risk customers. The more proactive a company is in this area, the more profitable it will be over time.

Enhancing the hiring process.

When asked about the most difficult part of their job, corporate recruiters and hiring managers almost unanimously list the task of shortlisting qualified candidates for job openings. With dozens and sometimes even hundreds of applicants, sifting through and narrowing down the options can be a monumental task. Machine learning is fundamentally changing the way this process is handled by letting software do the dirty work, quickly identifying and shortlisting those candidates that are the best fit.

Detecting fraud.

Did you know that the average organization loses up to 5% of their total revenues each year due to fraud? Machine learning algorithms can be used to track data and apply pattern recognition to identify anomalies. This can help risk management detect fraudulent transactions in real-time so they can be prevented. This type of “algorithmic security” can also be applied to cybersecurity, leveraging AI to quickly and accurately pinpoint threats so they can be addressed before they are able to do damage.

Streamlining IT operations.

Another way AI and machine learning are revolutionizing how organizations operate is through intelligent IT automation. Powered by machine learning algorithms, agentless automation and orchestration platforms become force multipliers, driving efficiency and helping enterprises save time on manual and repetitive tasks, accelerate mean time to resolution, and maintain greater control over IT infrastructure.

Want to see machine learning in action? Schedule a free product demo today!

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in CybersecurityAn ever-connected world coupled with the widespread adoption of cloud and mobile technologies have made the subject of cybersecurity infinitely more complex. Furthermore, an expanding number of access points and the seeming relentlessness of today’s sophisticated hackers mean the need for adequate network security measures has never been more important. Keeping up with the demand is challenging, to say the least. Artificial intelligence is turning out to be the ideal solution. Here’s how.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are being leveraged across any number of industries to improve data collection and analysis and enable better business decision-making. Mountains of data can easily be gathered, analyzed, organized and presented to help business leaders understand new trends and optimize future performance.

From a cybersecurity perspective, AI can be utilized as a tool to quickly and accurately identify new vulnerabilities in an effort to mitigate future attacks. This technology can alleviate much of the burden currently being placed on human security workers who are overworked, limited by human capabilities and inevitably prone to error. With a cybersecurity strategy that’s powered by intelligent automation, machines do much of the heavy lifting, alerting human agents only when action is needed. This enables security personnel to allocate their time and skills more effectively.

Think for a moment about your best security expert. Now imagine if he or she transferred that knowledge and expertise to your artificial intelligence and machine learning programs. This would essentially make your AI as smart as your very best employee. Now, imagine the outcome if you transferred the combined skills of your top ten best employees to your artificial intelligence program.

And since this intuitive technology is capable of “learning” and improving all on its own, your cybersecurity plan will continue to get stronger and more effective over time. What’s more, intelligent automation doesn’t make mistakes and never takes a sick day or vacation. That means with AI, your defense against cyber-attacks will remain constant, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So, it’s like having an army of your very best employees (but even better), constantly monitoring and evolving to provide even better protection.

Of course, that being said, AI shouldn’t necessarily be viewed as a replacement for human security teams – at least not yet. While the technology is, indeed, intuitive and self-driven, it still requires some degree of human interaction in order for it to continue to meet the needs and challenges of today’s organizations. As such, a hybrid approach is recommended, which includes human IT personnel working efficiently alongside the technology to achieve optimum results.

One particular area in which cybersecurity powered by AI can augment human IT teams is through the use of predictive analytics. With this, the technology leverages past and present data to provide security teams the predictive insight they need to thwart attacks before they occur. Essentially, it can facilitate a proactive rather than reactive approach to network security. For those inevitable instances in which threats do manage to get through, intelligent automation can aid in the timely and effective detection, eradication and remediation of successful breaches.

In conclusion, machine learning and artificial intelligence are beginning to play an increasingly important role in how organizations keep their networks and sensitive data secure. In the not-so-distant future, advances in machine learning, AI and intelligent automation will continue to provide newer, better and more effective tools to help savvy organizations stay a step ahead of cyber criminals.

See the next generation of cybersecurity automation and orchestration in action with your very own live demo or click here to launch your free trial of Ayehu and experience the power of AI powered automation for yourself today!

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Intelligent Automation in the Workplace: What it Is and Why it Matters

Intelligent Automation in the Workplace: What it Is and Why it MattersImagine sitting down for dinner in an upscale restaurant, waiting for your food and seeing it delivered not by a server, but by a flying drone. This may seem a bit futuristic, but it’s soon to be a reality in some places in the world. It’s also a glimpse into how automated technology is beginning to infiltrate just about every industry on earth. In the office realm, robots have been deployed for decades, delivering maximum efficiency and productivity at a minimal cost. But what, exactly, is intelligent automation and why should it matter to your business? Let’s take a look.

Intelligent automation takes regular process automation to a whole new level. Instead of merely carrying out predefined steps and processed, automation powered by artificial intelligence is capable of evolving and improving on its own over time. As tasks and workflows are performed, the data obtained during the process is then used to automatically improve how they are performed in the future. Intelligent automation can also help identify and optimize best practices, enabling business leaders to make more data-driven and therefore accurate decisions.

But if technology is capable of being “smart” and intuitive, does that mean it will eliminate the need for human workers? Does this spell the end for the human workforce altogether? Not necessarily. To the contrary, the purpose of intelligent automation in the workplace is to change the way businesses operate by augmenting and complementing human capabilities. In other words, automation powered by AI is meant to make the lives of human employees easier, allowing them to perform their jobs more effectively.

How is this possible? The ideal scenario would see humans and machines working in tandem. After all, even the smartest software in the world cannot yet replicate certain human characteristics that are necessary in business, such as emotion and cognition. Robots, such as chatbots, can deliver basic customer support and deliver quick, efficient answers to general questions but when it comes to complex situations and personal connections, human agents are still the key.

Intelligent automation comes into play where the need for precision and accuracy exist, when tasks are mechanistic, repetitive or even dangerous, and when vast amounts of data are involved. As a result of this new technology, new opportunities have begun to emerge. Thanks to automation, workers can now focus on learning new skills, performing tasks that are more complex, creative or cognitive in nature. The two working side by side ensure that the underlying organization continues to operate at peak performance, leveraging the latest technology and running as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The added benefit of intelligence in automation today is making significant impacts in a variety of industries. Take for example the finance sector. Many institutions are leveraging natural language processing as a tool to identify fraud and improve compliance. Law enforcement officers are applying computer vision to achieve better facial recognition and the healthcare industry is taking advantage of intelligent technology to gain insight from vast amounts of data in an effort to improve patient care.

Ultimately, it can be said that we have reached a point in time when organizations and business leaders must focus their efforts on helping people achieve more with the help of advanced technology. As a result, shift in how workplaces operate will continue to occur. Like it or not, disruption is occurring all around us and only those enterprises that embrace change and are willing to ride the wave – including that of intelligent automation – will emerge on the other side successful.

Want to see our intelligent automation platform in action? Click here to request a demo and experience what a self-driving enterprise really looks like today.

How Automation and Machine Learning Are Solving the Technology Staffing Crunch – An IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview

IT Briefcase

This article was originally published in IT Briefcase.

Browse any tech news site today and you’re bound to see at least one headline pertaining to automation and machine learning. The fact is, this technology has made leaps and bounds in advancements since it was first introduced, which has led to its more widespread adoption in almost every industry across the globe. One specific area where intelligent automation technology is making a significant impact is in that of the staffing IT shortage.

We recently sat down with Gabby Nizri, Co-Founder and CEO of Ayehu Inc., to learn a little bit more about how automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence are being used as a force multiplier to help organizations overcome the staffing crunch and operate at peak performance.

  • Q. What is machine learning?

A. Machine learning is a level up from basic process automation. Instead of simply automating pre-defined or ordered steps and workflows, machine learning uses an algorithm that is capable of learning patterns in existing data and then using that information to predict similar patterns in new data. Essentially, it uses intelligent technology to implement dynamic rules and workflows while also recommending next best actions for further business optimization and better decision making.

  • Q. What are the benefits to IT?

A. The most obvious benefit of automation and machine learning technology is its efficiency. Transferring time-consuming, repetitive tasks and workflows from human to machine can dramatically speed up operations. It also eliminates human error, which can reduce costs and improve satisfaction levels.

What many organizations are now realizing, however, is that automation can also provide a solution to their staffing woes. We all know that skilled IT professionals are at a premium, particularly those who are experienced in the area of cybersecurity.

By leveraging automation to do much of the heavy lifting, essential business functions like incident management can be handled electronically while existing IT personnel are freed up to focus their skills on more mission-critical tasks and projects.

  • Q. How is it having an impact on the industry?

A. Thanks to the overabundance in available data and more affordable tools for gathering, processing, deciphering and storing that data, machine learning algorithms can now easily be applied to produce fast, affordable results for businesses of every size and industry. Companies are no longer held back by the fact that they are smaller or have limited staff or IT budgets. That’s why we like to call it a force multiplier, because it truly is a game changer for many organizations.

  • Q. Why should organizations should embrace it rather than fear it?

A. It’s understandable why many people view automation and machine learning as a threat, but what they need to realize is that this technology isn’t designed to eliminate humans from the workplace. To the contrary, its purpose is to augment and complement human capabilities. In other words, the ideal scenario is to have humans and machines working side by side.

Will some jobs be eliminated? Likely so, but in reality, those types of jobs were actually better suited for automation anyway. At the same time, the adoption of machine learning and introduction of artificial intelligence into the workplace will also create new roles and opportunities. So, those individuals whose jobs are made redundant may have the chance to learn new skills and change their career paths.

Overall, the benefits far outweigh any downsides, particularly in how automation helps organizations do more with less. So, even those operating on a shoestring budget or with a skeleton crew of IT workers can remain competitive.

  • Q. How is Ayehu using artificial intelligence and machine learning?

A. The next generation of Ayehu is a simple yet powerful web-based automation and orchestration platform for IT and security operations. The platform leverages proprietary, sophisticated machine learning algorithms to provide decision support via suggestions to optimize workflows and dynamically create rule-based recommendations, insights and correlations. It is both agentless and codeless, and is easily deployed, allowing users to rapidly automate tasks and processes, including interoperability across multiple, disparate solutions and systems from one, standalone platform.

  • Q. What is the role of automation in the future?

A. What I find most exciting is that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface with automation and machine learning. As these technologies continue to develop and improve, the way they can benefit businesses will only continue to increase as well. What we’re seeing now – and it’s pretty amazing stuff – is really just the tip of the iceberg. In my opinion, the best is yet to come.

 

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate