imgresAs business teams reflect on 2015 and plan for the New Year, IT Automation is an area of opportunity and possibility. What’s most exciting about 2016 in terms of automation is that trends already in place will now position it as a core driver of innovation and agility for businesses that choose to embrace it as such. What are these trends and how will we see them unfold for 2016? There are four:

1. Automation and API accessibility providing essential end-to-end connectivity.
Over the years, the API model has emerged as the preferred connection method for almost every end-point including cloud, mobile devices and more. 
As REST has become the dominant model for designing networked web services, (REST now represents over 70% of public APIs, according to research firm EMA) automation solutions must provide better support for REST as part of their API strategy. Most of today’s automation solutions offer some very basic capabilities for WSDLs and REST, but still often require a lot of manual workarounds or scripting to build real end-to-end functionality.  But 2016 will see the true benefits of API connectivity realized through automation, which will help provide real end-to-end connectivity and reusability between APIs and applications, without the need for time-consuming and costly custom scripting.
2. Automation driven by security needs.
Network and data protection is a basic cost of doing business today, with security hacks and cyber-attacks now a common occurrence. 70% of businesses today have implemented disaster recovery protocols within the last two years, according to Gartner. To prevent and limit damage from these breaches in 2016, IT will more often employ both preventive measures to fend  off security threats, as well as reactive measures to trace sources and quickly and efficiently remedy the problem.
Workload automation with security-driven capabilities will help organizations minimize the risk represented by breaches and shorten the downtime that occurs as a result of a breach. The next year will see many workload automation solutions adding new levels of security that will strengthen user credential management and a secure workflow environment where access to objects is based on permissions. The result is a visible, reportable audit trail that traces any changes that are made, and identifies the user making the changes.
3. IoT potential realized through automation.
The growth of IoT is now exponential — there were 4.9 billion connected things in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and the number is expected to reach 25 billion by 2020. With the rapid acceleration of IoT into in 2016, businesses will need to orchestrate and manage a growing set of connected things and data pouring in from devices in order to offer improved customer experiences. 
Automation is the single point of control for the collection and transfer of data coming from all of these devices and applications. Rules-based and policy-driven IT automation will interpret processes, understand and recognize dependencies, and perform the critical monitoring necessary in an era and environment of exponential internet connectivity growth. 
4. Emergence of SaaS-based, pay-as-you-go automation offerings.
While SaaS-based solutions are popular in many enterprise IT areas now, the workload automation market has been slow to adopt the SAAS or pay-as-you-go model. Today, most automation solutions support dynamic workload placement, management and monitoring in hybrid cloud environments that utilize both on-premises and cloud systems like EC2, Azure, and more. As a result, SaaS-based workload automation offerings are starting to make more sense for many organizations who already have hybrid computing environments.
The benefits of a SaaS approach for workload automation are the same as for other areas of the computing landscape: lower initial costs (no heavy upfront investment); lower costs for hardware, software, and the people needed to manage the software; simpler upgrades due to provider management that eliminates customer downloads and installs updates and upgrades automatically. Workload automation vendors wanting to offer customers these advantages will begin to offer SaaS and pay-as-you-go models in the near future.