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What is NoOps and is it the future? Equinix explains

The pandemic shifted the way we work in unimaginable and irrevocable ways.

Organisations faced challenges maintaining the same level of services, operations, and coordination across widely distributed teams. The pressures to become flexible and productive uncovered a disorganised reality in which many employees were still spending time doing repetitive manual work.

Digital transformation, however, accelerated and propelled the adoption of automation to help control costs and manage such a distributed workforce and workload. Automation is now a vital consideration for organisations to create a successful modern workplace and is set to play a key role in shaping the future of operations. Digital leaders are radically reengineering their operations, identifying processes to streamline and creating more effective operations.

We already see reimagined automation processes in the Asia Pacific. According to McKinsey, close to 78 million workers across countries in the Asia Pacific will soon have to adapt to the rapid rise of automation technologies.

These trends have revived a buzzword that dates back to 2011, NoOps. NoOps means “no operations”, an IT concept that embodies automation in underlying infrastructure, removing the need for a dedicated team to manage software in-house. In a Forrester blog, it was proposed as a goal to improve the processes of deploying applications - using cloud infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service to get resources when needed.

While we have seen previous applications of automation in many industries, such as production lines, the NoOps concept now refers more closely to a software environment. Today, NoOps pushes the trend of automation, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level by having operations completely unmanned.

NoOps in today's digital-first environment

The pandemic has forced many organisations to rapidly digitise their services. According to the 2022 Equinix Global Tech Trends Survey (GTTS), a survey of over 2,900 IT decision-makers worldwide, 58% of Asia Pacific IT leaders say they are accelerating their company's digital evolution because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Unfortunately, many organisations are still not maximising digital opportunities. Mulesoft and Deloitte found 71% of IT leaders today spend their time on tasks that “keep the lights on”, often observing little time for innovation and development tasks. This becomes a larger challenge for organisations that want to continue expanding their capabilities and strategies as their personnel resources are not effectively used. NoOps can become a central concept for growth in this case.

Automation advancements in Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific region is an excellent example of organisations and governmental bodies making strides in advanced automation and fully embracing the NoOps concept. Here are a few examples:

  • Singapore's Smart Nation plan includes using automation and AI to overcome population and workforce constraints, investing over SG $150 million through AI Singapore.
  • Australia's Digital Economy Strategy recognises the advanced use of automation and AI to make Australia a top 10 digital economy and society by 2030.
  • South Korea recently announced a significant investment into expanding the country's production of industrial robotics and automation systems with its Intelligent Robot Industry Development Strategy.

These initiatives have spotlighted another, more well-known term in this year's tech trends: hyperautomation.

Gartner defines hyperautomation as a business-driven approach that involves organisations rapidly identifying, vetting, and automating as many business and IT processes as possible. It also involves using multiple technologies, such as AI and ML, to orchestrate operations. These factors share a very similar concept to NoOps, but while NoOps is more an aspiration note, hyperautomation seems more grounded in realism.

The global market for hyperautomation was valued at USD $4.78 billion in 2020 and is growing at a CAGR of more than 21.7% between 2021 and 2031, estimated to reach US$46.4 billion by 2031. In Asia Pacific, India is the most attractive market, expecting to grow at a CAGR of 29.1% from 2021 to 2031.

All this data points toward the larger trend in the Asia Pacific: it is becoming a booming powerhouse for global automation.

If the concepts of NoOps were to be explored further, Asia Pacific countries are likely to be the frontrunners of innovation, especially as it relates to business, finance and industrial service sectors.

Is NoOps really a possible concept?

The NoOps or hyperautomation concepts will likely only apply to specific operating environments for most organisations. Boiled down, it simply focuses on the larger issue to free up IT teams' time to focus on higher-level tasks, a more significant problem identified among industry professionals recently.

In 2021, Mulsesoft found only 44% of IT teams reported they were able to complete projects, with another 15% reporting they could not complete any projects. Automation will become even more crucial as leaders demand more operational excellence. Cloud providers recognise this challenge and have invested heavily in the automation of ecosystems. This has led to advances in cloud services, microservices and serverless technologies coming together to enable digital leaders to adopt automation within their software lifecycle operations.

Much of the success we are witnessing is in the rise of the everything-as-a-service (XaaS) model. According to the 2022 Equinix GTTS, eight in 10 IT leaders in Asia-Pacific are planning to move towards adopting XaaS, the main reason being to simplify their IT infrastructure, increase flexibility and improve user experience.

We have aligned our solutions with NoOps and hyperautomation concepts to help organisations interconnect at ease. They are designed to make automation simpler to implement, delivering rapid automated infrastructure and network connection provisioning paired with robust, well-documented APIs. We are also working with various collaborators and vendors to expand our XaaS infrastructure solutions.

Advancing and future-proofing operations for a digital-first world

The NoOps notion is clearly beneficial for some aspects, helping tasks run more smoothly, efficiently and quickly. Whichever term we use, one thing is clear; automation is accelerating beyond its core concept and is an essential aspect for organisation success in the future.

It involves more AI and ML capabilities, advancing how organisations and digital leaders approach operations. This will become essential in a post-pandemic and digital-first world as organisations transition from a loosely coupled set of automation technologies to a more connected automation strategy.

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