Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms: What They Are and Why They Matter


When Gartner published the Market Guide for Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms, it created quite a buzz in the enterprise automation world. This guide categorized Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms (SOAPs) as the forward-looking, transformative classification for workload automation solutions that orchestrate across platforms, applications, environments, and infrastructures.

Gartner suggests that for Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) teams, this new categorization of SOAPs will ‘minimize the complexity of automation workflows that span diverse application and infrastructure domains.’ Essentially, SOAPs empower I&O leaders to boost efficiencies across enterprise automation, while meeting the demands of cloud-based and hybrid digital environments as well as big data workloads.

Perhaps most shocking, Gartner predicts that by 2024, ’80% of organizations using workload automation tools will switch to Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms to orchestrate cloud-based workloads.’ This means legacy job schedulers and limited workload automation solutions that do not keep up with the complexity of the heterogenous IT environment will have a diminished role and lose relevancy for delivering across complex infrastructures.

With this in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into what Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms are, examine why SOAPs are essential for the modern enterprise, and explore some of the most common characteristics and capabilities based on the Gartner report.

What Are Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms (SOAPs)?

The Gartner report defines SOAPs as automation and orchestration solutions that ‘design and implement business services through a combination of workflow orchestration, run book automation and resource provisioning across an organization’s hybrid digital infrastructure.’ SOAPs, including the JAMS solution, enable I&O teams to reduce the complexity of enterprise automation by centralizing workflows, expanding capabilities for cloud infrastructure, and shifting from time-bound scheduling to event-based, or event-driven automation, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.

According to Gartner, Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms ‘represent the evolution of workload automation tools that aim to manage and automate a complete business process…by adapting to cloud-native infrastructure and application architecture.’ The expansion of workload automation (WLA) solutions into the modern classification of SOAPs more richly develops these cloud-based capabilities and demonstrates the progression of automation platforms that reflect the complexity and diversity of IT infrastructures today.

Why Are SOAPs Essential for Modern IT Environments?

Organizations with modern infrastructures require increasing amounts of orchestration compared to what was needed previously when simply scheduling batch processes that generated end of week reports. Today, business demands real-time information, data, and insights that depend on cloud-based platforms, services, and applications.

The radical digital transformation during the past few years has made it challenging for IT and I&O teams to keep pace. As Gartner indicates, ‘digital business requires multiple teams, both within and outside of IT, to take advantage of real-time, event-driven orchestration of business services’—and this is virtually impossible with more limited automation strategies. SOAPs are intended to serve as the next-generation solution—the hub of automation and the cornerstone for organizations in managing their automation approach in a complex IT environment.

Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms enable organizations to integrate and orchestrate across all platforms, across on-premise, cloud, and hybrid environments, and across all scripting languages. By streamlining management of dependencies and data, SOAPs significantly increase efficiencies, and according to Gartner, they ‘not only eliminate repetitive manual tasks, but also enhance business agility.’ Ultimately, this new breed of automation platform saves considerable time and resources, brings together disparate workflows, systems, and applications, and optimizes how the business runs to reach new levels of performance and delivery.

Key Capabilities of Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms

The Gartner Market Guide identifies six key capabilities of SOAPs, including workflow orchestration, event-driven automation, self-service automation, scheduling, monitoring, visibility, and alerting, resource provisioning, and managing data pipelines. Let’s review each of these areas briefly:

  • Workflow Orchestration: This capability provides a centralized and graphical view of workflows, so they can be easily designed and orchestrated across applications and platforms. The graphical flow designer shows interdependencies and enables separate tasks and data to be connected visually.
  • Event-Driven Automation: This characteristic of SOAPs involves event-based triggers that enable organizations to shift from time-based scheduling to event-based automation, providing more control based on clearly defined events. Automated workflows can be triggered when a defined event happens, increasing reliability and decreasing manual effort.
  • Self-Service Automation: This feature enables business users beyond I&O teams the ability to more effectively manage their own processes, making use of role-based access controls to ensure security and visibility. This allows IT teams to focus on more value-added, strategic tasks, while empowering self-service for the lower-level tasks of other users.
  • Scheduling, Monitoring, Visibility, and Alerting: This capability provides visibility for monitoring workloads and scheduled jobs and services in real-time, providing alerts if any issues arise. SOAPs with these types of capabilities ensure transparency into processes across platforms and environments, improving SLAs.
  • Resource Provisioning: This feature of SOAPs ensures resources are correctly provisioned and deprovisioned across cloud-based and hybrid environments without manual involvement to optimize allocation based on demand.
  • Managing Data Pipelines: This characteristic ensures data pipelines are managed effectively—whether it involves ingesting multiple data streams or automating file transfers. SOAPs offer programmatic creation, scheduling, and monitoring of these data flows to integrate with other tools across the business.

Start Learning More About What a Leading SOAP Solution Can Do in Your Business

JAMS is one of the top Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms available today. We can help you achieve higher levels of optimization and orchestration across your complex and diverse infrastructure. JAMS offers end-to-end automation software that centralizes your workflows to support your critical business processes. And that empowers you to increase efficiencies and boost productivity across your entire enterprise.

 Market Guide for Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms, by Analysts Manjunath Bhat, Daniel Betts, Hassan Ennaciri, Chris Saunderson, published 17 April 2020 – ID G00721991


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