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The potential of automation cannot be realized until it is supported by an effective IT service management (ITSM) strategy that encompasses your entire IT environment as well as business objectives and corporate policy. You need a clear vision of the transformation that leveraging cloud computing through automation can accomplish. But the journey is apt to have some challenging moments.

The pursuit will inevitably lead you down the rabbit hole of self-discovery. You need to know why things work the way they do—not just the technology but the people and processes as well. You also need to examine all your assumptions about the interdependencies across your infrastructure.

Your technicians will also need to have confidence that automation tools and procedures solve the problems they are charged with fixing. The only way is if they understand how automation works at its most basic level; when tied to ITSM, automation can free them from repetitive routine maintenance and unleash their talent to tackle creative projects.

As you extend automation, be aware of everything going on in your IT environment. The inter-dependencies of systems within your environment grow exponentially as you integrate more functions—anything has the potential to change everything else.

But also know that automation and the journey toward cloud computing contain all the components of a great adventure: exciting technology with leaps ahead in capabilities, performance, and efficiency. Technology leaders can do more with less and become true service providers instead of a cost center. And business leaders can finance IT out of the operational expense budget instead of the capital expense budget.

If the prospect of all the things that could go wrong still discourages you from getting started with your automation adventure, consider this for motivation: There is always more to be afraid of in standing still than in moving forward!

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