In spite of the off-putting buzzword, I nevertheless find quite a bit of merit with Richard Samson's argument that automation will make offshore outsourcing a moot point in the not-so-distant future (as explored in this CNET report
Back in November, we uncovered some food for thought from Datamonitor
on this very topic. The firm argued that speech-enabled self-service technology may be a bettervalue proposition than using offshore call center agents for low-leveltransactions. The report estimates that a company can save 25% to 35%per transaction using speech-enabled self-service solutions versususing a call center in an offshore location.
Expect to see similar efficiencies arise out of data center automation. Within the next couple of decades, we'll be seeing plenty more automation, and much of it will be an "invisible" revolution. But there are still some leaps of faith involved:
- Major infrastructure vendors are offering autonomic toolsets or environments, and a number of products already on the market have self-managing attributes. However, all-encompassing management solutions are expensive, and individual functional offerings are far too fragmented to be melded into a more holistic autonomic environment.
- Autonomic systems can dramatically improve IT staff productivity, and enable organizations to expand their IT environments without additional staffing. Eventually, autonomic computing will begin to cut down requirements for many current IT positions. However, it will be some time before autonomic systems can provide relief to impending IT skills shortages.
- The primary advantage for autonomic computing is to alleviate maintenance costs associated with computing, which encompasses huge parts of IT budgets. However, large up-front investments required for autonomic technologies still wash out perceptions of cost-savings.
- There are various identifiable stages in the progression to autonomic computing environments, from rudimentary managed environments to lights-out operations. The most critical stage is reached when systems can detect problems, make recommendations, and act on a recommendation without human intervention. For most organizations, leaving the action to the computer is a leap too far to make at this time.
- The best working model of autonomic systems today is embedded technology. Embedded systems sites run by themselves under the covers, require little IT expertise, and little tinkering to make applications run. The goal of autonomic computing ultimately should be to make IT infrastructure a highly embedded system.