What Is IT Automation?

Adam Roeckl - May 13, 2024

IT automation definition

IT automation is the use of software to complete time-consuming, repetitive IT tasks without manual intervention.

How does IT automation work?

IT automation relies on software to define rules for when and how to complete specific tasks or processes. These tools operate either by executing scripts on a set schedule or when a dependent task is completed.

In the case of more complex or variable tasks, software applications often leverage artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) to carry out activities. This enables the automation tool to handle tasks that may not adhere strictly to a predefined workflow or demand a higher level of intelligence for completion.

Why is IT automation used?

At a time when IT teams are often overburdened and understaffed, automation is a critical capability that enables teams to complete repetitive tasks without extending human resources. This allows people to focus on higher-value, business-critical, or customer-facing work.

IT automation also provides operational benefits by enabling teams to standardize processes, increase efficiency, and reduce errors. This helps companies scale initiatives, meet goals, fuel innovation, and strengthen their security posture.

IT automation for IT teams and security teams

IT automation acts as a bridge between two traditionally siloed functions: IT and security operations. This integration allows teams to connect and streamline IT and security tasks, enhancing visibility across the IT environment and improving responsiveness to potential security issues and events — all while optimizing resources.

Security-focused IT automation tools leverage intuitive natural language search capabilities and robust query languages to allow teams to ask questions about the IT estate and produce real-time, data-driven insights to make better decisions or trigger subsequent workflows. This framework can be used to support any number of use cases, including fleet management, forensic investigations, compliance, and performance monitoring.

The goal of every IT automation program is to help IT and security teams not only increase efficiency and scale but make informed decisions that will help improve their organizations’ security posture.

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IT automation use cases

IT automation can be applied to support several critical use cases that require support from both IT and security teams. These include:

Forensic investigations

IT automation boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of forensic investigations, enabling organizations to navigate the complex threat landscape with agility and precision. By seamlessly connecting operational functions between IT and security teams and delivering advanced analytical capabilities, IT automation helps teams identify the root cause of security issues and develop an effective remediation strategy.


IT automation helps teams collect and manage data that is necessary for maintaining compliance with industry regulations and supporting audits and assessments. Perhaps more importantly, enhanced visibility and continuous monitoring of the IT environment enable teams to quickly identify noncompliant assets and determine what actions to take to address the issue.

Fleet management

Fleet management is a pivotal aspect of IT and security operations that focuses on the management, optimization, and security of an organization’s digital assets. Effective fleet management helps teams coordinate security and IT processes to ensure the performance, acceptable use, and security of every asset within the IT estate. This collaborative approach is essential for reducing the risk of cyberattacks and breaches and protecting against a variety of threats.


Misconfigurations remain one of the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities used by threat actors to advance an attack. IT automation can complete routine configuration tasks and ensure they adhere to robust security standards.


As IT environments become more complex, IT teams need to manage, service, and coordinate multiple applications and infrastructure elements — often in a multi-cloud environment. IT automation tools help teams manage these different components and ensure they are configured properly and securely.

IT migration

Migration — whether it’s related to data, applications, operating systems, or the cloud — is a common IT activity that has significant security implications. Automating repetitive tasks within this process not only accelerates the migration plan but helps reduce errors and ensure security standards are maintained.

Application deployment

The shift to a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) development model requires teams to leverage automation to streamline time-consuming activities, such as reviews and testing. Automation is also instrumental in supporting a “shift left” mindset, which incorporates security earlier in the development cycle and helps identify security issues or vulnerabilities sooner.

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Benefits of IT automation

IT automation promises organizations several significant benefits, including:

  • Time and cost savings: By integrating automation into security and IT workflows, organizations can optimize limited resources and foster better collaboration between teams. This translates into more efficient operations, which drives both time and cost savings.
  • Enhanced security: Automation enhances security in a number of ways: It reduces the likelihood of human errors that could serve as a gateway for adversaries; it delivers faster, more efficient actions that help security teams identify and respond to security threats swiftly and effectively; and it can be used to automate routine cybersecurity tasks, such as managing alerts, prioritizing activity, and even remediating low-level threats.
  • Improved visibility: With the help of automation tools, organizations can achieve comprehensive insights into all aspects of the IT environment, including endpoints, servers, and cloud workloads. This level of visibility helps teams make informed decisions based on timely data and proactively address potential issues that could pose a risk to the organization’s security posture.
  • Improved operations: IT automation can be used to manage any number of routine IT activities. This not only helps optimize limited resources and drive significant time and cost savings but allows teams to focus on the higher-value work that will contribute to business goals.
  • Improved collaboration: IT automation acts as a bridge that connects the operational silos that often exist between IT and security teams. By fostering better collaboration and alignment between these teams, organizations can drive performance in both areas.

IT automation challenges

Though IT automation offers teams significant time and cost savings, enhanced security, and other important benefits, there are two challenges that organizations must be aware of:

System rigidity

Many automation tools are intended to complete highly repetitive tasks that follow a distinct and consistent path. As such, most tools have a narrow application that can only be used in instances specifically defined within the system.

That said, some more advanced solutions have incorporated AI and ML to enable the automation tools to support tasks that have some degree of variability. Although these tools may require more complex setup processes, they offer greater value to teams by enabling them to handle complex tasks more effectively. Additionally, they help minimize the need for human intervention when workflows deviate from their intended path, which can reduce the need for rework.

Investment cost

IT automation helps teams optimize limited resources, which drives value for the business in the form of efficiency gains and time savings.

Like any technology solution, however, IT automation tools require an initial investment for acquisition and ongoing operational and maintenance costs. Furthermore, teams must dedicate time at the outset of the transformation program to define the rules that will govern the tool and which processes will be affected.

Although the savings generated by the tool are expected to offset these expenses, companies need to consider the budgetary and resource implications. It is recommended that companies conduct a return on investment (ROI) assessment to gauge how quickly the tool will generate value for the business.

IT automation with CrowdStrike

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Adam Roeckl is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at CrowdStrike focusing on IoT/OT Security and Risk Management. Throughout his career in cybersecurity, Adam has built expertise in Security Operations, Threat Intelligence, Managed Security Services, Network Security, and AI/ML. Prior to CrowdStrike, he held Product Marketing roles at Palo Alto Networks and Zscaler. Adam holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Legal Studies from Miami University of Ohio and is now a resident of Golden, CO.