Autonomous Operations: An Intelligent Future and Impact in Asia

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Chris Kelly, Senior Vice President, Data Center Solutions, Asia Pacific & Japan, Dell Technologies discusses the potential of autonomous operations in Asia Pacific & Japan.

 

  1. How advanced are autonomous operations in Asia?

 Customers across all industries are implementing different levels of automation. We see the maturity levels still vary quite broadly however there is clearly an increasing trend across a number of industries to advance autonomous operations as a path to improved efficiency, agility and ultimately IT transformation. Industries such as retail, manufacturing, healthcare, shipping, and even mining companies with autonomous vehicles moving tonnage of materials are all embracing the opportunity.

This is particularly true across Asia. For example in Singapore, aerospace companies are looking to fill around 1,000 positions over the next two years. These roles include data analysts, robotics and automation engineers, and aircraft technicians. The industry is looking to seize growth opportunities in digital services, autonomous technologies, and sustainability. Many of the technologies already exist today – visual computing, artificial intelligence (AI), distributed computing, virtualization, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud – that enable organizations to unleash opportunities.

According to IDC, by 2023 to support autonomous operations, organizations in Asia Pacific would have increased their investments in data governance, digital engineering organizations, and digital operations technologies by 50%. IDC is also expecting spending on smart warehousing and supplier network management to reach US$21.5 billion by 2024, indicating a focus on both process and technology investments targeted at embedding intelligence across the overall supply chain. Along with improving resiliency, these investments will bring an element of agility and flexibility helping organizations to react and pivot their offerings and operations more effectively.

 

  1. What are the benefits of autonomous operations?

Dell Technologies has been on a decades-long journey to deliver software that radically simplifies IT. Our commitment to automation through unparalleled software innovation has allowed us to achieve service levels few can rival, such as 99.9999% uptime that our Dell EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure delivers1, 85% time-savings for typical administrative tasks with PowerEdge servers2, up to 98% time-savings to maintain a high availability storage environment with PowerStore3, and the ability to automate up to 99% of network configuration tasks with PowerSwitch4.

For example, CloudIQ, our cloud-based AIOps application, supports all major technology categories in the Dell EMC infrastructure portfolio (servers, storage, data protection, storage area and local area networking, converged and hyperconverged infrastructure) as well as its data storage as-a-Service offering. Moreover, CloudIQ AIOps gives customers the data and recommendations to take both manually and through automation to progress to higher and higher levels of AO.

According to a CloudIQ user survey that we conducted, CloudIQ enable IT teams to resolve issues 2x to 10X faster than before. Providing health notifications and recommendations to address issues is a major AIOPs capability. A good example of that in action is at Plex Systems, the prominent provider of cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, where CloudIQ enables 3x faster time to resolution and productivity gains of 16 hours saved per week.

 

  1. How should organizations start to think about autonomous operations?

It is critical to think about what autonomous operations are trying to achieve for the organization. As problem statements go, most companies are trying to reduce their operating expenses, increase availability of systems and capabilities and reduce risk. Automation should be about making something simpler, and the by-product should be about making life more productive and effective.

Automation and advancements in software innovation and shift to IT-as-a-Service can help accelerate transformation and simplify IT. Dell Technologies is innovating and investing in the technologies and services to help all organizations realize their digital destinies and no one is more capable of helping on that journey.

There are five levels of automation:

Full autonomy is an aspirational goal for advanced systems. Today in our technology ecosystem we have examples of almost all these levels of automation, but most real-world systems are still skewed toward Levels 0 – 2. Our Intelligent infrastructure and AIOps application together provide Level 3.

An example from Under Armour highlighted during a Dell Technologies event5– a challenge being faced is how fast and how much they can adopt automation. Data and technology are growing at an exponential rate. It’s not an equal thing where they have a constant level zero through five for the entire business. They are able to drive a lot more automation. That experience has gotten them to probably a level three or so. Where they don’t know and don’t have defined processes, they’re still engaging a lot more manual engagement with trying to drive processes and driving efficiencies. As AI is being adopted, in order for them to succeed, they have to basically meet consumers where they are.

Automation also requires a high degree of trust in IT. It is important to define an implementation plan, review it, and test it. And then retest it prior to production. This includes trust in the infrastructure, hardware, software, supply chain, and disclosure processes.

 

  1. How does this impact jobs of the future?

As Under Armour adopts AI, it’s about how do they elevate their teammates, the people who are not necessarily replacing but given the opportunity to grow and experience new things, challenge new thoughts, and derive different outcomes.

For example, during the same event⁵, Under Armour explained the adoption of technology as an addition to the team. If they think about the well-known five behaviors of a highly functioning team, the first one is trust. If they allow the teams to know that they’re not necessarily replacing them but replacing the menial task. They’re trying to make it more efficient but also giving teams the opportunity to raise and challenge themselves intellectually to drive the benefit of AI and everything else that comes with it. Automation should not be viewed as a replacement but as an acceleration of outcomes.

 

1Based on Dell Technologies field performance. July 2020. Actual results may vary. AD# G20000255

Based on a Principled Technologies Report commissioned by Dell Technologies, “Performing Common Systems Management Tasks with Dell EMC OpenManage Enterprise 3.5 vs Manual approaches”, March 2021. Actual results may vary. Ad # G21000081

3Based on Dell analysis of staff time required to deploy and maintain high availability array with Dell’s Dynamic Resiliency Engine (DRE) vs. traditional RAID. Actual results may vary. AD#: G21000090

4Based on Dell analysis of SmartFabric versus manual network configuration. October 2019 Actual results may vary. AD# G19000416

5 Source: Dell Event: Autonomous Operations: The Path to your Digital Future, September 22, 2021

 

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