What Is NoOps and Is It the Future?

How next-level automation in Asia-Pacific is driving new operational opportunities

Simon Lockington
What Is NoOps and Is It the Future?

The impact of the pandemic has shifted the way we work in unimaginable and irrevocable ways. Organizations faced challenges maintaining the same level of services, operations, and coordination across widely distributed teams. The pressures to become flexible and productive uncovered a disorganized reality in which many employees were still spending time doing repetitive manual work.

As such, digital transformation 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 organizations to create a successful modern workplace and set to play a key role in shaping the future of operations in the future. Digital leaders are radically reengineering their operations, identifying processes to streamline and creating more effective operations.

We are already seeing reimagined automation processes in Asia-Pacific. Close to 78 million workers across countries in Asia-Pacific will soon have to adapt to the rapid rise of automation technologies.[1] These trends have revived a buzzword that dates back to 2011, NoOps.

What is NoOps?

NoOps is a shortened term for “no operations”, an IT concept that embodies automation in underlying infrastructure, removing the need for a dedicated team to manage software in-house. It was proposed as a goal to improve the processes of deploying applications, by using cloud infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service to get resources when needed.

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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. Experts believe the method reworks the IT process to not only eliminate repetitive tasks, but also includes the use of advanced technology to help automate higher-level tasks.

Experts also believe that NoOps is an aspirational notion. This is because it technically encompasses various functions and automating everything is not a realistic expectation but rather an ambitious one.

NoOps in today’s digital-first environment

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

Unfortunately, many organizations are still not maximizing digital opportunities. Mulesoft and Deloitte found that 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 organizations that want to continue expanding their capabilities and strategies as their personnel resources are not being effectively used. NoOps can become a central concept for growth in this case.

Automation advancements in Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific region is a great example of organizations 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 the use of automation and AI to overcome population and workforce constraints, investing over SG$150 million through AI Singapore.
  • Australia’s Digital Economy Strategy recognizes the advanced use of automation and AI to make Australia a top 10 digital economy and society by 2030.
  • South Korea also recently announced a significant investment into expanding the country’s production of industrial robotics and automation systems with its Intelligent Robot Industry Development Strategy. South Korea’s New Deal 2.0 strategy also outlines the use of automation and AI to build smarter logistic systems.

All these initiatives have also spotlighted another, more well-known term in this year’s tech trends: hyperautomation. Gartner defines hyperautomation as a business-driven approach that involves organizations rapidly identifying, vetting, and automating as many business and IT processes as possible.[2] 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 US$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.[3] 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 point toward the larger trend for Asia-Pacific to become 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 the 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 organizations. 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, only 44% of IT teams reported they were able to complete projects, with another 15% reporting they could not complete any projects.[4] Automation will become even more crucial as leaders demand more operational excellence.

Cloud providers recognize this challenge and have heavily invested in automation in their ecosystems. This has led to advances in cloud services, microservices and serverless technologies coming together to enable digital leaders to adopt automation within its 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 GTTS results, eight in 10 IT leaders in Asia-Pacific are planning to move towards adopting XaaS, citing the main reason for doing so to simplifying their IT infrastructure, increased flexibility and improving user experience.

At Equinix, we have also aligned our solutions with NoOps and hyperautomation concepts to help organizations interconnect at ease. Services like Equinix Metal™ and Equinix Fabric™ make automation simpler to implement, delivering rapid automated infrastructure and network connection provisioning paired with robust, well-documented APIs. Businesses can quickly deploy open-source Kubernetes or enterprise offerings from Red Hat, VMware and Google Anthos on Equinix Metal to automate manual processes so teams can focus on other tasks and organizations can accelerate their digital transformation growth. We are also working with a wide range of collaborators and vendors to expand our XaaS infrastructure solutions so that organizations can shift their focus from repetitive tasks to higher-value projects. Learn more about how Equinix is working on delivering XaaS globally with Dell.

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, NoOps or hyperautomation, one thing is clear; automation is accelerating beyond its core concept and is an essential aspect for organization success in the future.

It involves more AI and ML capabilities, advancing how organizations and digital leaders approach operations. This will become essential in a post-pandemic and digital-first world as organizations transition from a loosely coupled set of automation technologies to a more connected automation strategy. While we are still working toward achieving an end-to-end system of NoOps if we can automate manual tasks, why shouldn’t we?

Learn more about how automation with Equinix solutions can accelerate your digital transformation.

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/asia-pacific/tackling-asias-talent-challenge-how-to-adapt-to-a-digital-future

[2] https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/hyperautomation

[3] https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/556307376/hyperautomation-market-is-estimated-to-reach-us-46-4-billion-by-2031-grow-at-a-cagr-21-7-between-2021-2031

[4] https://resources.mulesoft.com/ty-report-connectivity-benchmark.html#loaded

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