Blog Post Top IT Automation Trends in 2022 and Beyond

Few of our top nine IT automation trends are wholly new for 2022. Rather, most automation priorities are taking on a new urgency as enterprises demand faster, better, and more efficient digital products and services.

Top IT Automation Trends in 2022 and Beyond

IT automation trends have historically been dictated by the goals of IT operations (IT Ops). However, as the IT market continues to shift to the cloud, there’s a growing list of enterprise teams that have adopted automation as core to their role. The following list provides insight into how IT operations teams are partnering with their IT brethren in DataOps, DevOps, and CloudOps to help their organizations deliver on crucial, top-level business strategies.

1. Demand for cloud-native platforms continues to increase

As IT leaders strive to speed up and scale their digital transformations, many look to cloud-native platforms (CNPs) for support. CNPs reduce the operational burden often found in legacy environments while improving organizational resilience, flexibility, and adaptability. In their Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022: Cloud-Native Platforms, Gartner predicts that “by 2025, cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives — up from less than 40% in 2021.”

As enterprises add these CNPs to their technology landscape, advanced IT automation solutions will be needed to orchestrate and control workloads across them all. In fact, CNPs enable many of the IT automation trends listed here, including self-service automation, DevOps and DataOps methodologies, and total experience programs. Because of this, we’ll see an accelerated shift to strategic automation in 2022.  

As the demand for new cloud-native digital products and services grows, automation must be scalable and accommodate the kinds of use cases that support top-level business strategies. From managing workloads in increasingly common (and complex) hybrid IT environments to creating, deploying, and managing dynamic application environments, IT automation will grow more central to an enterprise’s digital business imperatives.

2. Distributed cloud gains ground as a preferred infrastructure model

I&O leaders are well acquainted with the shift to distributed cloud computing and the accompanying opportunities to accelerate digital transformation. In Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022, Gartner predicts that “by 2023, 75% of organizations that exploit distributed enterprise benefits will realize revenue growth 25% faster than competitors.”

How, exactly, enterprises will make the shift to cloud computing is always top of mind. Over the next 12–18 months, distributed cloud will likely emerge as a preferred infrastructure model. Distributed cloud decentralizes cloud resources, offering enterprises greater flexibility to keep business processes running regardless of location (whether in the office, cloud, or employees’ homes) and supporting each business unit’s unique technology requirements. In 2022, automation will be essential to this decentralized, multi-cloud approach, with many organizations building up CloudOps initiatives to proactively keep their cloud-based systems running smoothly.

3. Workload automation continues its evolution as a service orchestration and automation platform

Anyone responsible for designing or executing their enterprise’s automation strategy, the growing prominence of the service orchestration and automation platform (SOAP) will be a big IT automation trend of focus in 2022. SOAPs offer many advantages over their workload automation forerunners, starting with handling the needs of real-time, event-driven business models and the ability to automate just about anything in the cloud.

The larger goal of SOAPs is to drive business agility and digital innovation. These platforms achieve that by quickly integrating new technologies into larger workflows. SOAPs make it easy to connect to and control automated IT processes within any application, database, or platform that resides on-premises, in the cloud, and in containers. Once connected, enterprise end-users can centrally orchestrate automated workflows that span any connected tool within their entire IT ecosystem.

Looking back at our first trend — demand for new cloud-native products and services—it’s easy to see why Gartner projects that through 2024, 80% of organizations using workload automation tools will switch to SOAPs. 

4. Automation for all: democratizing access to automation systems

IT Ops teams have long used workload automation to automate IT tasks and jobs. As an increasing IT automation trend, enterprises are now empowering end-users throughout the business with self-service capabilities.

This trend is largely driven by a broader movement to decentralize IT services management. Traditionally, IT controlled all budget and responsibility for anything related to technology. The cloud changed this by giving just about anyone access to technology. To support demand from the business, many organizations have adopted a federated model, whereby central IT teams work closely with business units to enable IT services versus dictate them. 

In 2022, the federated trend will continue to grow in automation. We’ll also see demand from line-of-business teams who want access to automation as a service. With this model, IT Ops centrally controls the automation platform and provides it as a service to developers, data and cloud teams, and more.

In addition, this shift has created citizen automators — end-users who automate workflows in their most-used tools, like Teams and Slack — without support from IT Ops.

Look for this trend to accelerate in 2022 as more enterprises recognize that citizen automation delivers benefits like greater productivity and end-user empowerment. We’ll also see citizen automators spread into other business groups, from finance to HR to the C-suite.

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5. SOAPs amplify the business value of DevOps methodologies and tools with a platform approach

Though nearly all enterprises use DevOps methodologies, the 2021 State of DevOps report finds that most have plateaued in the middle stages of the DevOps evolution scale.

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to implement (or improve) a DevOps methodology; however, service orchestration/automation software solutions have proven their worth in uniting IT Ops and development through a series of processes and tools. In 2022, look for enterprises to push ahead with SOAPs as a single orchestration point to execute, route, and delegate along their DevOps toolchains. By doing so, organizations benefit from improved agility and faster time to market; shorter development cycles through self-service automation; streamlined workflow creation across hybrid cloud environments; and enhanced collaboration between DevOps and DataOps.

6. Cybersecurity mesh decentralizes security perimeters

Traditionally, cybersecurity has primarily focused on establishing security perimeters around office environments and data centers. This method worked well when sensitive corporate data and machines stayed within protected areas. However, the pandemic quickly pushed enterprises into distributed environments outside those traditional perimeters — into the cloud and employees’ homes.

One of Gartner’s top strategic technologies for 2022, cybersecurity mesh decentralizes security perimeters to spread protection measures across cloud and on-prem environments. Following the path of distributed enterprise networks, this approach establishes boundaries around individual users, machines, and devices instead of locations. Gartner predicts that “by 2024, organizations adopting a cybersecurity mesh architecture to integrate security tools to work as a cooperative ecosystem will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%.”

Automation is critical to any cybersecurity approach. There are simply too many security threats and opportunities for human error in time-consuming manual security operations. In 2022, we expect more organizations to implement SecOps methodologies to standardize security implementations (policy-as-code) and automate the security dev-test-prod lifecycle.

7. Meta-orchestration of the data pipeline toolchain

One of the fastest-growing segments of automation is data analytics. After all, data doesn’t provide much value on its own. It needs to transform into actionable insights that help businesses succeed.

Modern data teams use DataOps methodologies to design, implement, and manage end-to-end data flows. This approach brings together experts from data, development, and IT Ops to manage the dev/test/prod lifecycle of collecting, ingesting, standardizing, integrating, storing, and delivering data.

To architect, engineer, and manage complex data pipelines in 2022, IT professionals will increasingly turn to service orchestration and automation platforms as a meta-orchestrator of the entire data pipeline toolchain. However, they won’t use SOAPs to replace the pipeline’s highly specialized toolset. Instead, they’ll use SOAPs to centrally manage and orchestrate all automated processes across their pipelines from a single command center-like platform.

8. Reducing IT’s fundamental complexity to enhance total experience

While cloud-native platforms enable tremendous gains in efficiency and scalability, their sheer volume introduces new complexities in connectivity, compatibility, and experiences across all audiences.

In its Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022, Gartner identifies Total Experience (TX) as the cumulation of customer (CX), employee (EX), user (UX), and multi (MX) experiences. With digital technology at the heart of every experience for every audience, I&O teams have the unique opportunity to find common themes, needs, and solutions that boost confidence, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

In 2022, look for enterprises to focus on automation efforts that reduce IT complexities by efficiently managing and orchestrating end-to-end IT workflows from a single, unified view within a centralized platform.

9. Workload automation and other IT automation processes move under the hyperautomation banner

Returning to the list of top IT automation trends for the third year running, hyperautomation doesn’t actually refer to one specific technology. Rather, hyperautomation is a process for orchestrating the rapidly expanding volume of automation technologies in place at most organizations today.

It’s fitting that hyperautomation rounds out this list of top IT automation trends for 2022. That’s because hyperautomation is, in a sense, a blanket term that covers everything we’ve discussed up to this point (and more).

Final thoughts about IT automation trends

As the IT professionals Stonebranch works with are well aware, task automation, job scheduling, and workload automation have long been on the automation agenda for many organizations. Of course, with the urgency driven by business users and additional IT functions, the requirement to centrally orchestrate an exceedingly complex list of disparate automation tools, both within and outside of IT Ops, has become a paramount objective in 2022 and beyond. 

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