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How to Easily Automate Azure Infrastructure Tasks

Author: Guy Nadivi

Although AWS is currently the 800lb gorilla in the cloud, Azure is its fastest-growing competitor. The work-from-home mandate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seems to be accelerating a migration to the cloud for many enterprises, and that means more and more infrastructure tasks will need to be done on platforms like Azure.

The Ayehu NG platform integrates with cloud computing environments like Azure and AWS, so it can mitigate the need to manually perform a lot of those critical yet mundane tasks associated with managing an Azure cloud instance.

The cloud computing market is growing very fast.

According to research firm MarketsAndMarkets, in this crazy year of 2020, the cloud computing market’s size will hit over $371 Billion!

In just 5 years though, they forecast the market size will more than double – hitting over $832 billion by 2025.

That represents a healthy 17.5% compound annual growth rate. Not too bad.

And that report from MarketsAndMarkets contains an interesting quote:

“Increased automation and agility is expected to drive the cloud computing market.”

So automation actually has a dual role, both as a contributor to growth of the cloud computing market, and as a solution for making it easier to manage.

Just for the sake of comparison, I want to show you this chart I grabbed off of Statista.com comparing all the major cloud service providers, including AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM, etc.

The bottom row of the chart represents market share for AWS. As you can see, since Q2 of 2017, their market share hasn’t changed much. Three years ago, it was 34%, and last quarter it was 33%, so they’ve remained pretty steady.

Now look at Azure. Starting from the same time period, we can see that Azure went from 11% market share in Q2 of 2017, to 18% as of last quarter, Q2 of 2020.

No other individual provider has grown that much in that short a timeframe.

Not only is the Cloud Services market growing, but Azure’s share of that market is growing faster than anyone else’s.

Azure’s global footprint is large, and continues to grow.

They currently boast over 60 regions, which they define as “…a set of datacenters, deployed within a latency-defined perimeter and connected through a dedicated regional low-latency network.” They also claim to have more global regions than any other cloud provider.

Azure also currently has over 160 physical data centers within those 60 regions. I don’t think I need to define what data centers are, so suffice it to say, they’ve got a lot of capacity.

Within those 60+ regions and 160+ data centers, Azure provides customers 22 different categories of service. There’s a really broad diversity among those services, as you can see in the graphic below. The number in parentheses on each hexagon represents the number of services in each category.

As of today, there’s a grand total of 277 services offered that Microsoft lists on Azure’s website.

Here’s a sampling for some of the specific services you’ll find in 4 of the most popular service categories.

Under the Compute category, there are services for VMs, SQL Server, and Containers.

The Storage category includes services for Backups, BLOBs, and Data Lakes.

If you need Network services, Microsoft offers Traffic Management, Load Balancing, and Firewalls.

And in the ever-critical Security category, you’ll find services for Active Directory, Key Vault, and VPN Gateway.

Now I suspect that most (if not all) of you reading this probably already knew about Microsoft’s many service offerings, the diversity of services they offer, their global data center foot print, and even their market share. So why am I going over all of this?

The reason why is because all of that massive computing capability Azure makes available to you, also requires a massive amount of often manual administrative tasks to be executed in order for your Azure instance to run smoothly. Which brings up the question – What percentage of Azure tasks can be automated?

As long as a task can be accessed through an API, and as far as we know the vast majority of Azure tasks can be, then you can automate that given task with Ayehu NG. We estimate that at least 90% of Azure tasks can be automated. Which means that as you grow your enterprise footprint on Azure, and as you increase the variety of Azure services you subscribe to, there is a solution for scaling your system administration capabilities in parallel that just might mitigate the need to increase headcount. That solution is available right now and can be plugged into your Azure instance within minutes of downloading.

One more thing to keep in mind. As your Azure footprint grows, and your volume of user demands expands, the number of tasks you’ll need to perform will increase as well. That will make it progressively more difficult for your staff to keep up, for one very simple reason – people don’t scale very well.

Even the very best Azure SysAdmins can only do so much. At some point, automation has got to absorb more and more of the repetitive, tedious, laborious tasks all this growth in cloud computing usage creates. The alternative will be trying to hire your way out of this dilemma, and that will prove to be far more expensive than adopting automation.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how easily you can automate your own Azure infrastructure tasks, please visit our website or click here to download your very own free 30-day trial version today.

5 Ways to Quantify Intelligent Automation ROI

5 Ways to Quantify Intelligent Automation ROI

In terms of disruptive technology, intelligent automation has gained tremendous ground. In fact, according to Statista, more than half of today’s business leaders say they expect to implement automation in the coming years. And for good reason. While technologies like traditional workload automation, cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) reduce costs and provide the flexibility to perform routine tasks and workflows, artificial intelligence (AI) brings these benefits to a whole new level with the capability of performing tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Intelligent automation software enables businesses to perform much more diverse and complex activities without the need for human intervention. Furthermore, thanks to machine learning algorithms, this type of platform is capable of learning and improving entirely on its own based on data from past experience. Artificial intelligence can also provide valuable insight and decision support for management. But how does all of this translate into actual, tangible return on investment? Let’s take a look.

Drastically Saving Time and Money

When a good portion of business processes are shifted from human to machine, the operation runs far more efficiently. Work is performed faster and more accurately, which equates to greater productivity and higher service levels. Fewer man hours results in tremendous savings for the organization. (In one recent case study, one global enterprise slashed man hours by 1,500 in less than a year simply by adopting intelligent automation. That reduction resulted in an overall savings of nearly $500k.)

Distinct Edge Over the Competition

Staying a step ahead of the competition is the key to success – especially in today’s global marketplace. Every company is chasing digital transformation and hoping to claim their spot at the head of the pack in their respective industry. The use of intelligent automation can facilitate this transformation, not only be streamlining processes, but by empowering human workers.

When the mundane tasks and workflows no longer require human input, employees are able to apply their skills, time and effort toward more important business initiatives. The freedom to be creative breeds innovation which can provide the competitive advantage companies are striving for.

Agility and Scalability

The ebb and flow of business has long been a challenge for organizational leaders. Scaling up as needed based on sudden changes in market demand is not only difficult, but it’s also quite costly. Conversely, in situations when finances are lean, such as during economic recessions, the ability to maintain an expected level of production on a limited budget is incredibly problematic.

The deployment of intelligent automation resolves both of these issues by enabling businesses to scale up or down at a moment’s notice. Seasonal or other business influxes can be met seamlessly thanks to the ability of software robots to take on some of the workload. And when it comes time to tighten the belt, automation can help skeleton crews operate as if they were fully staffed. Every business leader understands the importance of agility like this.

Maximizing Uptime

Another way intelligent process automation can deliver tangible benefits to a company is through improved system operability. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Due to variations in how businesses operate, experts estimate that on the low end, downtime can cost as much as $140k per hour, while at the high end, can run upwards of $540k per hour.

Regardless of which end of the spectrum a business happens to fall on, system outages can be, without question, downright disastrous. Enter intelligent automation and suddenly there’s an army of robots monitoring the infrastructure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Furthermore, artificial intelligence is capable of identifying threats that could take days, weeks or longer for humans to spot. When incidents can be pinpointed quickly and the platform itself is capable of addressing and remediating those issues, downtime can be dramatically reduced and, in many cases, prevented altogether.

Data-Driven Decision Support

Because intelligent automation is powered by AI and machine learning, it is inherently capable of analyzing massive amounts of data and extracting value. Furthermore, AI-powered automation can then turn that data into actionable insights that can be utilized by business leaders to make better decisions.

Incorporating advanced business automation technology into the mix enables the analysis of overall organizational performance. With these intelligent analytics, business leaders can more effectively identify and implement the right approaches to achieve improved performance over the long-term.

Could your organization benefit from any of the above? If so, adopting intelligent automation should be on your list of priorities for the coming year. Get a jump start by taking Ayehu for a test drive today.

3 Ways to Fine-Tune Your AI for Continuous Process Improvement

3 Ways to Fine-Tune Your AI for Continuous Process Improvement

Getting up and running with artificial intelligence in your organization can be an exciting and even liberating experience. Suddenly, your infrastructure has more unity. Productivity and efficiency are through the roof. Errors have all but been eliminated. Profitability is skyrocketing. But then, over time, things start to level out. Suddenly, the numbers aren’t as impressive. Problems have been slowly but surely ticking back upward.

What gives? You and your team worked so hard to adopt and deploy AI across the organization. You were hailed heroes by your fellow business leaders. Yet, now, it seems complacency has set in. What’s more, as is the case for many organizations, a lack of ownership and collaboration between teams has begun to erode the progress that was previously being made.

The truth is, AI, just like any other major technology initiatives, is something that is fluid. Digital transformation doesn’t just occur one day and stop. It requires ongoing evolution, which means that, in order to continue to get the most out of artificial intelligence and automation capabilities, you must routinely prune and fine-tune your efforts.

Not sure where to begin? Here are three ways to ensure the time, talent and other resources you’ve invested into AI will remain relevant and profitable.

Develop a collaborative team.

In order for AI to be universally beneficial, different teams and departments must work together toward shared goals. But that doesn’t mean people will naturally step up to the plate. In many organizations, it’s necessary to establish a designated team with the purpose of collaborating on and contributing to the development of policies and procedures that will deliver continuous improvement of AI initiatives. In particular, there should be representatives from key groups, including IT, data science and the end users.

Keep your cycle active.

One area where many organizations fall short when it comes to successful implementation of artificial intelligence is their machine learning cycle. We’ve said it time and time again, but it bears repeating that AI is only as good as the data that’s driving it. The fact is, the logic and data you used to set up your initial AI project may no longer be relevant. The best way to ensure consistent accuracy between your algorithms and the areas in which they are applied is to keep your cycle active and pivot whenever and wherever it’s deemed necessary.

Employ retirement policies.

We’ve all heard the expression, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The opposite could be said for AI initiatives. In order to remain agile and competitive, you must be willing to scrap the things that are no longer delivering value. Otherwise, you will be wasting resources that could be better used elsewhere. Develop and implement policies that include routine audits and strategies for next-steps, whether it be modifying to improve or retiring wasteful workflows altogether.

In a successful AI deployment, there are a lot of moving parts. The last thing you want is for any of those parts to become stagnant. To avoid this, you must continuously work to not only keep things running smoothly, but also optimize your strategy over time. Doing so will enable you to maximize the benefits of artificial intelligence and keep you a step ahead, both in terms of internal operations as well as with your competition.

cio guide to operational efficiency

3 Ways AIOps Can Change the Game for CIOs

3 Ways AIOps Can Change the Game for CIOs

The role of CIO has evolved rapidly over the past few decades. Perhaps the biggest change has been the shift from being primarily tech-focused to playing a pivotal role in driving business strategy. In fact, most organizations now recognize the unique value that the CIO brings to the table, combining technology know-how with in-depth business acumen to provide unparalleled insight and perspective to the enterprise.

Of course, along with great responsibility comes even greater challenges. Because of their unique positioning, CIOs are expected to deal with everything from infrastructure and operations to innovation. On any given day, they’re expected to balance putting out fires in the trenches and handling escalations with things like managing budgets and developing growth strategies. They wear dozens of hats, many of which must be switched in a matter of seconds.

As the CIO’s role becomes even more multifaceted, the demands and expectations they face continue to grow while their time and energy remain finite. At some point, something’s got to give.

AIOps to the rescue!

In the face of increasing complexity, growing demands and ever-changing requirements, AIOps can be a secret weapon for CIOs, freeing up their time and enabling them to focus their efforts on more mission-critical projects. Here are three specific ways AIOps can become an absolute game-changer.

Maximum Visibility

AIOps facilitates end-to-end visibility, offering oversight of the IT infrastructure in its entirety, including on-premises, cloud and end-user environments. It also bridges the gap between the infrastructure and the services being delivered, enabling prioritization of issues based on their business impact. This helps CIOs identify which issues require their attention most. It also provides invaluable, data-driven insight executives need to make more informed business decisions.

Greater Simplicity

Today’s IT environments are becoming increasingly complex by the day. AIOps allows CIOs to not only keep the pace, but actually gain a few extra steps in the process. Rather than wasting countless hours trying to connect thousands of separate events from disparate monitoring tools, IT operations teams can view relevant, actionable alerts and impacted services on one single, central console.

This facilitates faster detection of service issues, eliminates false positives and prevents important issues from potentially being missed. As a result, CIOs receive fewer escalations and are able to offer more timely answers when escalations do occur, saving both themselves and their teams time and energy.

Rapid Resolution

The third most impactful way AIOps can help CIOs is by enabling IT operations to resolve service issues faster. This is accomplished through a strategic combination of root cause analysis, historical and real-time context and automated remediation. Not only does this significantly reduce MTTR and mitigate the impact of major incidents, but it also lessens the amount of time and effort CIOs must commit to escalation management.

At the end of the day, AIOps has the potential to deliver a momentous win-win, improving service quality while also freeing up the CIO to be able to focus his or her precious time on strategic work and innovation.

The great news is, getting started with AIOps is easier than ever. With Ayehu, you can be up and running with AI-driven, intelligent automation in just a few minutes! Click here to download your trial and try Ayehu free for 30 full days.

Introducing the 1st Annual Intelligent Automation Hackathon!

The world has evolved rapidly in recent months, and many of us and our customers are now working from home (WFH).  While we’re all looking forward to things returning to normal once again, it will definitely take a while. And for some, it may never be quite the same. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that the new normal will increasingly involve remote work arrangements, to minimize impact and prevent potential business disruption while maintaining social distancing recommendations.

With so many employees now getting the green light to work from home, the demand for IT support – for VPN access, remote file permission, and the like – will only continue increase, at a time when fewer IT staff are available on-site to meet this higher demand. The result is likely to be longer wait times for IT support and more technical issues to resolve. Intelligent automation can help address these challenges.

Now is your chance to be part of the solution, have fun, and win prizes at the same time! 

Welcome to our first annual Intelligent Automation Hackathon – focused this year on WFH solutions. Develop workflows and activities to leverage Ayehu’s automation and orchestration platform to make WFH easier, more streamlined, and more efficient. 

The hackathon will take place as an entirely virtual event, during which participants will develop their workflows and activities from their work or home office. There will be two categories and prizes will be awarded to winning entries in each category.

Why participate? Lots of reasons!

  • Get firsthand experience building activities and workflows, and propel your professional career forward
  • Learn more about the free resources Ayehu provides via its Academy and Git Hub Community
  • Receive personal exposure as an automation leader and innovator
  • Give back to the community and help us all get through the COVID-19 pandemic and its long term impact
  • Have fun and win prizes (up to $1,000!)

The event is scheduled to run from October 6 to 8th, and all development work and entry submission must take place during that time period.

Interested? Click here to register while there’s still space available!

3 Ways Intelligent Automation Can Facilitate Growth, Even in the Face of Uncertainty

The recent global health crisis has tested the resolve of organizations large and small, and across just about every industry. As of a result, the perspective of many business leaders on technology has also begun to evolve. While the focus pre-COVID was primarily keeping operations going, there has been a marked shift toward digital transformation, namely the acceleration of automation initiatives.

As organizations begin to acclimate to the so-called “new normal,” those that embrace intelligent automation will quickly discover that not only can it help them navigate through uncertain times, but actually innovate and grow, regardless of what the external circumstances may dictate. Here are just a few ways how.

Cut Costs

Automation used to be an IT-only function. Slowly, but surely, the technology began to make its way into other departments, like marketing. But with intelligent automation, it’s possible to leverage the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning across the entire organization. With the right approach, automation can lay the foundation for a more resilient digital enterprise. Furthermore, by applying automation to other key areas, such as HR, finance and engineering, IT is able to optimize their workload and run a much more efficient, cost-effective operation.

Put Data to Use

There are mind-boggling amounts of data available in the world today. Making sense of that information has become increasingly challenging. Intelligent process automation technology is capable of sifting through massive amounts of data and pinpointing and extracting information that’s relevant and of business value. This information can then be leveraged to do everything from improving the customer experience to helping leaders make more informed, data-driven business decisions.

Do More with Less

If there’s one positive that’s come out of the recent health crisis, it’s that many organizations found themselves on the fast-track to digital transformation. In particular, many business leaders quickly learned that, with the right tools and technology in place, remote work arrangements were not just feasible, but actually a more attractive long-term solution. This was especially an epiphany for IT operations teams, many of whom discovered that with intelligent automation, they could effectively “keep the lights on” even with a skeleton crew.

A better run business is better positioned to outpace competitors and achieve sustainable growth. At the heart of that better run business is intelligent automation. The right technology can help ensure that whatever life circumstances may come your way, your organization will be capable of not only standing firm, but continuing to thrive through it all.

Click here to get up and running with AI-powered intelligent automation in less than an hour!