“Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates

Businesses are evolving; some are in this evolution process because they want to transform for good. On the other hand, a few others are in this evolution process because of external factors; they need to keep up with the market to survive. No matter which of these two scenarios is triggering this Darwinian process, one thing is true: every business is becoming digital.

With these increases in innovation and digital adoption in the Enterprise, IT departments are at the helm of the drive for innovation. If IT can't deliver software and platforms quickly, securely, and reliable, the business most likely will be impacted.  

As part of this Digital Transformation process, businesses embrace new technologies and ways to deliver results faster: e.g., Cloud Computing, AI/ML, IoT, Big Data, Blockchain, Automation, and a few more. And in the case of Automation, most are adopting an organization-wide automation strategy, which is the topic of this article.

Why does Automation matter?

  • Fast: Provision systems and deploy workloads at machine speeds.
  • Predictable: Reduce the risk of human error.
  • Managed: Centrally govern and monitor disparate systems and workloads.
  • Scale: Scale in pace with your business demand.
  • Agile: Address quickly changing requirements and opportunities.
  • Collaborative: Continuously align business and IT.

According to Forrester, Automation is a top priority for most firms, a key driver for business success in critical areas like network, provisioning, life-cycle, and security. A couple of questions arise from this premise that I will try to answer in this article:

  • How does not every business have an organization-wide automation strategy? How will such a strategy look?
  • Is there a need for a comprehensive automation platform to increase adoption and accelerate results?

The strategy

A common problem for companies adopting Automation is the lack of strategy behind their adoption process. For most adopters, Automation is usually a simple "scripting tool" for ad-hoc use cases. There is nothing wrong with starting small, demonstrating success with small wins while implementing use cases in different domains (e.g., infrastructure, networking, storage, day two ops). The issue in this approach is the lack of structure, standards, frameworks, and processes to break silos.

How do we fix it? How do we set an organization-wide strategy? To answer that, I have a few tips to offer in this process:

  1. Senior management buy-in: You need executive support! It would help if you showcased the value of enterprise-wide Automation. Without management on your side, it will be difficult or near impossible to succeed.
  2. Create a foundation by tying business objectives to use cases: You need to start translating your organization's business objectives to use cases and those into automation user stories.
  3. Create standards: Create standards on coding, testing, access controls, analytics/metrics collection of usage.
  4. Use a common platform: If possible for your implementation, use a common platform across multiple domains. Take advantage of orchestration to create workflows tying together different automation pieces to build common use cases and breaking traditional silos.
  5. Increase collaboration: Break the silos to increase cooperation between departments using the tooling in place for Automation. Create a Community of Practice that sets the standards and drives the adoption process at the organization level. Avoid the "DevOps Department" syndrome by making everyone responsible for the execution.
  6. Phased approach: You want the automation strategy to be comprehensive and structured in phases with concrete deliverables. For example, at Red Hat(my employer), we structure the Automation Adoption Journey in three steps, each with a set of goals:
  7. Accelerate: Where we automate for speed, create repeatable models, know down tasks to increase efficiency.
  8. Orchestrate: We focus on Enterprise-wide automation, workflows, multi-team interactions, governance, and strategy to create a reliable platform and process.
  9. Innovate: We shift to an automation-first culture, reinventing how the organization uses Automation to increase the competitive edge.

Following these simple steps should help your organization level up. Create a solid Automation strategy.

The Platform

Yes, you will need a platform that provides you with the technical capabilities to evolve Automation in your organization. For me, the choice is simple: Ansible Automation Platform gives me the features and architecture that I need to implement enterprise-wide Automation. To learn more about it, please go here.