It’s safe to assume that planning ahead is everything to business leaders right now, as the start of 2024 is right around the corner.
It’s a strategy-backed priority to get proactive and ahead of challenges that might be ahead of us. As IT’s role in driving business success continues to expand, putting automation to work inside of IT departments and functions today better positions organizations to reach goals and overcome future obstacles.
IT automation is essential to any IT roadmap and will ultimately drive more success in 2024 – and so the automation experts at Resolve built out an IT automation playbook for doing it right, complete with use cases, examples and plenty of pro tips.
The four IT automations for 2024 include:
1. Request Automation Fulfillment
Request fulfillment automation is likely the most important of all four, especially for a service desk that drowns in countless requests per day, such as new account setups, access to network service drives, ever-popular password resets, and more.
Resolve can integrate with a chatbot on the front end to facilitate an entire process automatically. Particularly helpful with the remote workforce, a chatbot can communicate with employees in real time to take care of requests without any human intervention.
How Automated Request Fulfillment Works: Password Resets
In this particular automated request fulfillment use case, Microsoft Teams is used on the front end to communicate with Resolve automation. Here, virtually any external event can kick off automation inside of Resolve, whether it’s incoming emails, tickets, alerts, text messages, or of course, a message from Teams.
A conversation with the Teams chatbot would start the automatic process. With a simple “hello” message, the chatbot would greet you by name and provide options for different actions you could take. You’d select the “Request an account” option for let’s say, an Okta account.
The Resolve workflow that intercepted the Teams message would already know your identity, and so it would have already reached out to Active Directory to determine who your manager is, to then send them an email for approval for which you’d be immediately notified in Teams. Concurrently, Resolve created a ServiceNow change request ticket to document the entire process.
2. Generative AI (GenAI)
IT teams increasingly tap into GenAI for automation, considering the rapid expansion of its abilities and features, as well as ease of use. Along with AI, machine learning (ML), and large language models (LLM), GenAI resolves issues using historical data and provides recommendations for how to do so. For tools like ChatGPT, OpenAI, and others as they exist today, and while they’re the shiny red balls of technology, it’s important to note just that: It’s all new. But Resolve provides a way to use ChatGPT, monitor what’s happening, and do so safely and securely.
GenAI is incredibly valuable for IT. Imagine administrators or operators constantly dealing with incoming tickets and having the ability to utilize historical, closed out ticket data to actually offer recommendations on actionable steps to take. And that’s just the beginning.
How GenAI Works: Unresponsive Web Applications
In this use case of an unresponsive web app, we’ll take data from a ticket and ChatGPT will tell us what action to take based on historical data.
The ticket appears on your screen, letting you know that a web app, like an HR Portal, is unresponsive. In order for Resolve to pick up the ticket, you’d change a couple properties, as Resolve is flexible in its rules to respond to tickets and alerts.
By saving the “new” ticket, Resolve would pick it up for this particular outage, and automatically start the process. The ticket state would be set to “active” while below, in the work notes, its information automatically populates. Basically, Resolve would find any and all tickets similar to the one at hand (without AI at this point) that are marked either “closed” or “resolved” and then list them.
Resolve would take the closed notes and closed codes from the listed tickets, formulate a question, and ask ChatGPT for steps to solve the active ticket. Closed notes might include clearing the cache, emptying the recycling bin, emptying the C: drive, and the notes would be naturally and organically constructed text.
In addition to integrations, Resolve also comes with pre-built use case templates. In this case, there’d be one responsible for disk cleanup on a Windows host that happens to match the exact recommendations that ChatGPT provided before. It would retrieve details on the host machine’s disk, and then it’d clear the Windows update cache folder, empty the recycling bin, run a quick calculation to see how much space was saved, and then update the ticket.
3. Automatic Error Correction
Correcting human errors, as they’re not 100 percent avoidable, is in fact an IT process. In the real world, it touches so many different systems, it’s very complicated, and it takes up much more time than it should. Automation for self-healing and remediation is of tremendous value to IT teams and the companies they support.
Having automation there for you is definitely something to write home about, especially considering the varying ways in which you can apply it. You can really do as much, or as little as you need – the ability to have diagnostics all on one platform is of huge value to IT and the many industries involved, from financial services to telcos, retail and beyond.
How Automatic Error Correction Works: Web Application Outages
The scenario in this use case is an application outage, posted in Azure, and there’s a huge playbook of items that an administrator, a site reliability engineer (SRE), a cloud operator, and the like would need to check, including database health, connectivity, running services, existing necessary firewall rules, and more that allow inbound traffic to the web applications.
Let’s say you find misconfigured firewall rules were playing a very inordinate role in some of your outages. This use case, like previously covered, starts in the drag-and-drop workflow designer, where you’d use pre-built integrations for Azure Compute, as well as the native ability to talk to Linux systems, and check on file systems, services, running processes, and more.
We’ll also say a deleted firewall rule was allowing inbound HTTP traffic, which caused an alert to be generated inside of your monitoring tool, like Big Panda for instance. Once the alert exists inside an external tool, it can be pushed to Resolve proactively, with a link that prompts you to investigate the outage, as well as one to the ticket that Resolve automatically created. You’d then see information on the configuration item, the alert ID, and down in the work notes, you’d get details on whether the host is online, an option to run a false positive check, a place to check for stopped service, and more as it applies to the problem. Resolve would use the Azure integration to display a firewall rule table of information. Then over Azure, you could see that the rule had been restored.
Depending on the cloud provider, it can take varying amounts of times to reflect a web app update – either that the problem’s been solved or that it needs to be escalated to a human. Resolve then closes out the ticket, and in this case, the end-to-end process was completed automatically.
4. Orchestrate Complexity and Consistency
Orchestrating a complex list of actions by stitching them all together into a cohesive workflow relieves IT of worrying about potential human errors and burnout, and provides consistency from start to finish.
A web application can have anywhere from two to 2,000 servers around the world. Large enterprises often use multiple servers in their corporate environments to provide continuous availability to its employees, for instance. If the reboot doesn’t work properly when a web application inevitably goes down, a company will lose its websites. Automatic checks to ensure that load balancers are up and running helps meet the need for reliability and scalability of web applications.
In an approach to safely and sanely reboot a pair of load balancers, a manual process simply comes with too much to think about and too much to do. What if there are hundreds of load balancer pairs to keep up with?
How Orchestration Works: Load Balancer Sanity Reboots
An automated load balancer sanity reboot would begin when a human, or a pre-defined schedule kicks off the Resolve workflow, ensuring the right sequence of steps are accurately followed to keep the issue from escalating to one that impacts the business.
Resolve would automatically determine whether both devises are online, they recognize each other, and they’re working properly. Upon meeting expectations, the backup device would be purposely taken down and rebooted. The automation, in one more run, would double check to confirm that everything is working – better safe than sorry. The secondary device would take over while Resolve rebooted the primary. Basically, the two servers would be swapped to keep one from getting run down, and automatic pre- and post-checks would lock in proper behavior of the load balancer sanity reboot process.
Triggered from a network alert of job schedule, engineers would receive notice that the load balancer has been operating in the proper format for in this use case, six months, which would enable the rebooting process.
How Resolve Helps
IT can start with the workflow designer’s visual canvas, used to go from scratch to a completely automated process very quickly, providing a rapid time to value and return on investment (ROI). The designer’s drag-and-drop building blocks, also known as “activities,” are also intuitive, highly visual, and easy to use.
There are hundreds of integrations with thousands of activities – everything from dealing with ticketing tools, monitoring tools, cloud, and on-premise virtual infrastructure, and so forth. IT can customize the workflow designer’s settings in a “what you see is what you get” fashion, along with any type of advanced logic they need, and with any programming language (looping, conditional branches, switch statements, and more) they need to use.
IT automation has come a long way, evolving into point solutions — or small bits of automation built into other tools — to match the needs brought about by rising complexity over time. Resolve focuses on end-to-end automation and comes with everything you need to create a successful automation center of excellence, including platform functionality, the ability to customize, data manipulation, third party integration, and governance and security.
Request your demo here to see the full spectrum of automations to fit your needs going into 2024.