(9 Min Read)

What is IT Operations (ITOps)?

Written by: Kate Parker

Want your organization to run more smoothly and securely? You’ve come to the right place. Modern business depends heavily on information technology, and operational efficiency is key to a successful information technology department and, ultimately, a successful organization.

To understand IT Operations, you first need to understand information technology. Information technology, commonly known as IT, is the use of systems, networks, storage and endpoint devices to initiate, send, receive, share, store and secure information in the form of electronic data. An organization’s IT infrastructure is made up of all of their IT resources and is typically managed by an IT Operations manager and/or a team within an IT department.

What does IT Operations mean?

IT Operations refers to the deployment, management and servicing of an organization’s IT infrastructure. It’s the central purpose of an organization’s IT department.

What is included in IT Operations?

IT Operations includes all tasks required to consistently keep IT functional and secure. These tasks may include managing devices, monitoring for issues, navigating automation, handling incidents, rolling out upgrades and deploying patches to IT applications, hardware, software and network infrastructure.

What does an IT Operations manager do?

An IT Operations manager is responsible for ensuring the functionality, security and stability of an organization’s IT infrastructure. An IT Operations manager doesn’t typically choose or purchase tools, network infrastructure, apps or other parts of IT systems, but they play a critical role in the IT department and the organization as a whole. 

In a typical technology-dependent organization, the IT Operations manager organizes and oversees how those tools and systems interact and is responsible for monitoring, maintenance and support. Support may include both the creation and deployment of upgrades plus patch deployment.

What is the goal of an IT Operations manager?

The goal is to ensure that the entire IT infrastructure is meeting business needs and keeping the business as secure as possible from a data perspective. This requires maintaining that not only are the systems themselves functioning and interacting appropriately, but that users are engaging with those systems as they should be.

In order to support systems and users, an IT Operations manager creates best practices that indicate how tools and systems should be used, proper procedures across an endpoint lifecycle and strategies for onboarding, monitoring, troubleshooting and maintaining data security and incident remediation. This may include the creation and maintenance of an IT infrastructure library (ITIL).

What skills are helpful for an IT Operations manager?

An IT Operations manager must have leadership skills, technical skills, project management skills and problem-solving skills. Ideally, they will also have expertise with provisioning, service orchestration and service delivery, workflow management, infrastructure management, security management, IT service management (ITSM), software applications, cloud environments, metric evaluation, cybersecurity and disaster recovery, network security and – more than ever before – machine learning and artificial intelligence, otherwise known as artificial intelligence operations (AIOps).

Given the rapid evolution of technology and digital acceleration, it’s very helpful for an IT Operations manager to be an individual with boundless curiosity, an affinity for lifelong learning and a willingness to stay in tune with the leading edge of innovation. They also need to be able to stay level-headed in a crisis and react quickly and effectively to security incidents.

What does an IT Operations team do?

In midsized and larger businesses, an IT Operations manager oversees a team of IT Operations staff who assist in carrying out these responsibilities. This team is expected to follow best practices as established by the IT Operations manager. It’s also important that they stay on top of trends such as Internet of Things (IoT devices), cloud migration and artificial intelligence.

What does IT service management look like in the digital era?

IT Operations have significantly increased in relevance as digital transformation accelerates and as workers are increasingly decentralized. This decentralization means workers are moving beyond perimeters and local area networks, which increases the burden on IT to offer service delivery and endpoint management throughout the lifecycle for endpoints that are no longer shielded by location-based firewalls. Migration to cloud environments has also intensified workloads for IT teams, complicating network administration and enhancing demand for automation to alleviate manual tasks.

Embracing automation for repetitive, manual tasks can not only allow your IT Operations team to do significantly more with fewer human hours expended, but it can also reduce human error and give your IT Operations team time to focus on other, less repetitive tasks that need their attention and address business needs.

How do IT Operations teams support employees?

While working with systems is a significant portion of the workload for an IT Operations team, they are also tasked with direct support for employees. With job duties tied to technology across a wide range of departments, even employees who work in-person are frequently in need of support from IT to enhance employees’ digital experience. Remote employees need an additional layer of support to ensure a secure, user-friendly experience. An IT Operations team is often responsible for helpdesk or service desk support to assist with employee onboarding, device onboarding and UX concerns, as well as ensuring successful connectivity and secure access. They’re also tasked with handling outages, helping to manage workflow, performing data back-ups and addressing any other issues that arise within the IT environment.

The current work landscape makes it more important than ever for people to be able to access the right information at the right time on the right device and the right network – and, critically, to keep out any person or device that isn’t supposed to have access. When you’re logging in from a beach as a digital nomad, you definitely want to be able to access your work platforms and applications – but you definitely don’t want the stranger on the beach chair next to you to be able to do it!

What about IT Operations vs. DevOps?

IT Operations is often conflated with DevOps, but they’re not quite the same thing. While IT Operations takes a linear and holistic view over how the IT department runs, DevOps (short for development operations) focuses on creating, deploying and improving services and applications. DevOps teams are often made up of rapid-fire coding experts whose goal is to develop, test and release software as quickly and efficiently as possible.

IT Operations and DevOps often have disparate goals that may come into conflict. Since IT Operations is looking at the entire operation, they tend to consider cross-functional and downstream implications of any new software deployment, patch or upgrade. IT Operations prioritizes overall stability, security and seamless integrations.

On the other hand, DevOps is likely to prioritize speed and making the development lifecycle optimally short and efficient. They are trained to take a fast and flexible approach, pivoting when things don’t work in order to find the optimal solution within a limited timeframe.

How do conflicting goals affect IT Operations and DevOps?

Conflicts arise when IT Operations slows DevOps down with red tape and logistical concerns, causing frustration and preventing teams with a DevOps focus from reaching their goals. Meanwhile, DevOps can sometimes fail to promptly communicate changes and/or take potential collateral impact into account, which causes frustration for teams with an IT Operations focus and prevents them from reaching IT Operations goals.

Optimally, these seemingly disparate approaches complement each other, with shift-left development that identifies problems early and lets DevOps pivot with plenty of time to loop in other stakeholders and ensure that their work supports overall business needs and objectives.

How do you future-proof IT?

The most successful IT Operations department and IT Operations managers are those who are never complacent. As soon as you think you have technology “figured out,” that technology is bound to change. For that reason, it can be intimidating to invest in IT infrastructure, service orchestration, cloud computing, application management and other advancements. What happens when something new comes along and suddenly the bright and shiny thing you were excited about is suddenly outdated? And what happens if you’re successful and grow out of your existing solutions?

This is a legitimate concern, not only for IT organizations that offer technology-wrapped services to clients, but also for organizations needing to attract and engage great employees who have high expectations for their digital user experience.
The solution: Future-proof your IT with a dynamic, scalable solution set that grows with you and evolves to keep pace with the leading edge of technology.

Why use a service orchestration and automation platform (SOAP)?

Automation is at the heart of future-proofing. Gartner says automation “is to modern infrastructure what blood is to the body.” Workload automation has become essential for business, but basic workload automation is not sufficient to keep businesses relevant today, let alone in the future. That’s why there’s such demand for advanced service orchestration and automation platforms (SOAPs). SOAPs take workload automation to the next level via compatibility with cloud-based workloads. The ability to provision resources across a dynamic, hybrid digital infrastructure is a critical competitive advantage that will pay dividends well into the future.

How does Redwood help future-proof IT Operations?

Redwood is a leading example of a SOAP that can help future-proof IT Operations and offers the only workload automation and job scheduling solution delivered as a service. Redwood delivers a single, integrated workload automation solution that works across – and has all capabilities required by – a digital enterprise. Plus, it’s managed by SaaS. That means that many of the tasks that fall on the IT Operations manager and IT Operations team take less time and effort with better business outcomes. That’s a win-win for today and an invaluable investment for tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does IT Operations fit into a business?

In any business, an IT Operations team has a lot of responsibility. They are problem-solvers for many active business problems. ITOps teams look for ways to deploy new and innovative technology, improve existing technology and enhance the systems used by the business. For example, an IT Operations team would be responsible for making sure each employee’s devices are operational and have the right tools installed for them to do their job. Another example of the responsibility of IT Operations teams is deploying new systems and teaching end users how to use them. They are responsible for making sure everyone has what they need from a technology perspective to be successful in their role.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a term that is the combination of development (Dev) and operations (Ops). It joins process, people and technology tools together to drive business and deliver value to customers in a continual, ongoing way. DevOps practices and tools provide a way for different roles, such as IT Operations, developers, quality engineers, security professionals and more, to collaborate and coordinate more effectively. This allows a business to produce better products faster and more reliably.

How can DevOps and IT Operations work together?

Both teams are central to the success of a business, especially in the technology sector. ITOps and DevOps have many common points of contact and must collaborate closely to enable businesses to innovate. ITOps has a greater focus on hardware, uptime and reliability. DevOps, on the other hand, has a strong focus on software, configurations and product development. For example, when dealing with servers, ITOps would typically be responsible for replacing broken components or troubleshooting connectivity issues, while DevOps would normally be in charge of configuring the server so it can support the applications running on it.