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The Business Case for Autonomous Cloud Management

Published on
Last updated on

April 1, 2024

Max 3 min
The Business Case for Autonomous Cloud Management

This article is based on a panel discussion at autocon, our annual autonomous conference.


In this article, we delve into the reintroduction of autonomous infrastructure within the realm of large-scale systems, shedding light on the transformative changes that have taken place in infrastructure development over the past few decades. The insights shared here are the result of a collaborative effort involving multiple speakers who engaged in a thought-provoking discussion, comparing the distinctions between traditional monolithic systems and emerging paradigms such as Kubernetes and serverless environments. The focus lies on highlighting the advantages offered by enhanced flexibility and access to a diverse range of tools.

As the conversation unfolds, we shift our attention towards the crucial role that autonomous systems play in this dynamic landscape and why relying solely on automation falls short of our aspirations. By embracing autonomy, we open up new possibilities to transcend the previously inevitable trade-offs that accompanied investment decisions, business choices, and market strategies. We reflect on the age-old dilemma where one must choose between something being good, fast, or cheap, realizing that achieving all three simultaneously has long been an elusive goal. However, our speakers firmly believe that with advancements in technology and the successful implementation of autonomy, these trade-offs can be overcome.

Join us on this exploration as we delve into the world of autonomous infrastructure, unveiling its potential to revolutionize large-scale systems and reshape the way we approach infrastructure development in an era defined by rapid technological progress. You can watch the panel discussion here.

Driving Innovation and Performance through Autonomous Technologies

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, businesses face constant pressure to innovate and optimize their operations. One area that has gained significant attention is the integration of autonomous technologies.  A very interesting discussion with Kiran Makagon highlighting the importance of investing in talented individuals dedicated to innovation and customer value he mentioned ""My responsibility is to invest in talented individuals who are dedicated to driving innovation and delivering value to our customers. At the end of the day, what matters to our customers is the final product—the end result that brings them tangible benefits. They don't need to know about the extensive workforce behind the scenes, as that's not something they pay for or want to be bothered with. It's simply overhead.

My goal is to empower my team to focus on what really matters: innovation, development, strategic thinking, and creating a seamless onboarding experience. I want them to spend less time worrying about deployments, speed, and costs. That is a major victory. By enabling them to concentrate on these key areas, we can drive significant progress and ensure that our investment in innovation translates into tangible value for our customers. You see, anything that automates manual processes, reduces costs, and enhances reliability is a game-changer for us at RingCentral. We operate with a remarkable five-nines availability, meaning minimal downtime. So, achieving these efficiencies is paramount to our success. It allows us to deliver the exceptional service and reliability that our customers rely on.” It captures the essence of the paradigm shift brought about by embracing autonomy. Unlike the past, where infrastructure limitations hindered progress, businesses now have the opportunity to break free from such constraints.

Kira Makagon also discussed the benefits of using autonomous systems to improve the performance and reliability of real-time networks. By implementing autonomous systems, they can achieve two key advantages. He said “ Firstly, it reduces the reliance on human involvement, as people are often the cause of problems or service interruptions. With fewer people involved, the system becomes more reliable and experiences fewer interruptions. Secondly, autonomous systems leverage more reliable hardware, contributing to improved system performance. These advantages allow for increased investment in the network infrastructure. Deploying autonomous systems results in reduced costs, better availability, and ultimately, a win-win situation. 

The Impact of Autonomous Systems on Developer and SRE Productivity

A notable moment occurred when Prakash Muppirala highlighted the positive impact of autonomous systems on the productivity of developers and Site Reliability Engineers (SREs). In today's dynamic landscape, the boundaries between developers and SREs are becoming blurred as organizations strive for direct deployment to production. The emergence of autonomous systems brings numerous benefits, particularly in reducing the burden of labor-intensive tasks.

By leveraging autonomous systems, the need for extensive training and manual labor is significantly diminished. This shift allows developers to focus on their core responsibilities, resulting in increased productivity within the team. As the roles of developers and SREs merge, their collective efficiency and effectiveness improve, leading to higher-quality outcomes and streamlined operations.

Autonomous systems serve as enablers, freeing SREs and developers from repetitive and time-consuming tasks. This newfound efficiency empowers them to concentrate on more strategic and innovative endeavors, thereby driving business growth. Integrating autonomous systems into the workflow enables organizations to unlock the full potential of their teams, optimizing productivity and amplifying their impact.

The Importance of Automation, Measurable ROI, and Collaboration in AI, ML, and Robotics 

Investments in the realm of AI, ML, and robotics investments, it is crucial to highlight the significance of automation that offers a measurable return on investment (ROI) and collaborative capabilities. One of the key challenges faced today is the scarcity of available human labor for various tasks. For instance, during a discussion at Autocon22, Matt Howard shared an example of a berry manufacturer struggling to find enough labor to pick berries, resulting in a significant amount going unpicked each year. This shortage of human resources extends to the IT industry, where people are increasingly occupied and find it challenging to accomplish tasks efficiently. In such a scenario, automation solutions like Sedai present an opportunity by providing clear ROI and collaboration features, addressing the optimization and efficiency requirements of organizations, particularly in a challenging economy.

In the course of the same conversation, Matt Howard raised a particular incident involving Facebook, where automation glitches caused a multi-day outage. This incident underscores the importance of deploying technologies that possess the ability to learn, adapt, and operate autonomously, as opposed to rigid automation methods. Autonomy empowers organizations to enhance cost performance, availability, and customer experience, ultimately fostering business growth. By embracing new technologies and leveraging autonomy, the emergence of IT leaders with evolving skill sets is anticipated, leading to impactful innovation and progress.

Simplicity and a clear ROI are paramount factors when considering the adoption of autonomy with solutions like Sedai. Cumbersome sales processes with complex spreadsheets often hinder the adoption journey. It is crucial to emphasize the importance of a straightforward ROI that customers can easily understand and build trust with the sales force. The aim is to facilitate a "no-brainer" sale, where the benefits of adopting autonomy are readily recognizable, enabling informed decision-making. By simplifying the adoption process and eliminating complexities, a smoother path to implementation and widespread adoption of autonomy solutions is expected.

The Impact of Autonomous Systems on Fabric and Belcorp

Now, let's explore a deeply thought topic centered  around the transformative power of autonomous systems within two pioneering companies, Fabric and BellCorp. These organizations have harnessed the potential of autonomous systems to revolutionize their operations, driving remarkable outcomes. Fabric and BellCorp exemplify the transformative power of intelligent systems in their respective industries. Fabric, a well-established player, serves as a testament to the profound impact these systems can have. Similarly, BellCorp, renowned for its extensive operations, has experienced firsthand the benefits of integrating intelligent systems. This discussion also explores the inherent safety of Sedai and the challenges that arise when managing a rapidly growing number of microservices.

During the discussion, Suresh delved into the intricacies of autonomous systems and highlighted their exceptional performance. These systems demonstrate outstanding capabilities in specific operations, ensuring a remarkable success rate with zero reported incidents, as observed in Fabric's case. The scalability and adaptability of autonomous systems were emphasized, relieving Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) from the burdensome task of scaling up and down. BellCorp, too, experienced a notable decrease in latency, resulting in an overall performance boost. Suresh emphasized that the purpose of autonomous systems is not to replace human jobs but rather to eliminate repetitive tasks, allowing SREs to dedicate their efforts to enhancing customer satisfaction.

A real-life example where a fabric customer noticed improved shopping cart performance and suspected Sedai's involvement. This anecdote highlights the value of autonomous systems in identifying and addressing issues that might go unnoticed by humans. 

Sedai serve as supportive companions to SREs, enhancing their capabilities and eliminating toil. The goal is to leverage automation and newer technologies to maximize talent and scalability while prioritizing customer experience. Sedai acts as an autonomous buddy, working alongside SREs to optimize system performance and reliability.

Driving Customer Success: How RingCentral Prioritizes Performance and Value

When it comes to providing top-notch service, RingCentral understands the importance of performance and value to their customers. In a recent conversation, Kira Makagon, Chief Innovation Officer at RingCentral, shed light on how their rollouts have positively impacted the company's overall performance and customer satisfaction.

For customers, the interface they interact with is crucial. Whether it's a phone call, video meeting, or collaborative messaging, the experience should be seamless. Any disruption or dropped call can result in lost revenue, unhappy patients or clients, and a tarnished reputation. To tackle these challenges, RingCentral has implemented automation to ensure high availability and minimal downtime. This investment in automation has been instrumental in maintaining a consistent service that operates without any significant interruptions.

However, the true measure of success lies in the quality of these interactions. While customers may not be aware of the complex technology infrastructure supporting their experience, they do care about the end result. Factors such as call quality, video performance, and message delivery speed significantly impact their satisfaction. RingCentral understands this and is dedicated to delivering superior quality and fast response times to meet and exceed customer expectations.

The three pillars of RingCentral's value proposition: availability, performance, and cost. Availability takes precedence, as a dropped call signifies a missed opportunity. Performance, specifically addressing latency in communication channels, plays a crucial role in ensuring a seamless user experience. Slow response times can be as detrimental as complete service downtime. The company is committed to continuously measuring and optimizing performance to avoid customer dissatisfaction.

Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities of Automation

Let's delve into the valuable takeaways from this enlightening discussion on automation and its impact on businesses. By examining their perspectives, we can gain a better understanding of how these ideas align with the current market landscape. Get ready to discover thought-provoking takeaways that shed light on the significance of automation in today's business world.

The conversation centered around the advancements of autonomous systems and their readiness for the market. While automation has been present for years, it has primarily relied on predefined rules and triggers, lacking intelligence and adaptability. However, the emergence of the next wave of technology presents an opportunity to embrace more sophisticated autonomous systems capable of handling complex tasks, thus freeing up human resources.

Despite its potential, the adoption of pure automation solutions remains limited. One significant challenge lies in the extensive consulting and customization often required, resulting in prolonged time-to-value and complexities in revenue recognition. Startups, in particular, face the hurdle of convincing customers to invest in early-stage technology. To succeed, automation solutions must offer compelling returns on investment and demonstrate swift value delivery.

Furthermore, businesses are grappling with backlogs of automation projects, making it challenging for new technologies to gain traction. There is a growing demand for intelligent automation solutions that can be swiftly deployed to address immediate needs and provide tangible benefits in a timely manner.The businesses are seeking intelligent automation systems that offer flexibility and deliver rapid value. By addressing these challenges, both startups and established players can unlock the true power of automation and drive transformative change in the dynamic business landscape.

Embracing the Potential of Autonomous Systems

Now let’s explore the final thought and key takeaways that emerged from the panel discussion.

Kira Makagon emphasizes that we are still in the early stages of fully realizing the value of autonomous systems. While cost, performance, and reliability have been discussed, she highlights the crucial role of security. Autonomous systems have the potential to address vulnerabilities inherent in rules-based systems, reducing the risk of human error and enhancing overall security. Matt Howard emphasizes the practical approach to autonomy, emphasizing the importance of "doing no harm." Building trust with autonomous systems requires practical expectations and a commitment to ensuring they operate safely and responsibly. By considering practicality and managing potential risks, organizations can make meaningful strides towards autonomy.

On the other hand, Suresh noted that autonomous systems are not merely a futuristic concept; they have been in use for years in leading companies. The key lies in effectively leveraging existing autonomous capabilities and identifying the right use cases. By delegating routine operational tasks to autonomous systems, teams can focus on higher-value initiatives, paving the way for an autonomous world.

As the world increasingly embraces digital services and complex infrastructures, the adoption of autonomous systems becomes crucial for effectively managing and optimizing environments. Integrating teams with autonomous capabilities ensures a seamless customer experience while empowering organizations to navigate the evolving digital landscape.

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