In a world where organizations are continually asked to do more with less, IT leaders are always looking for new technologies and strategies that can help their teams become more agile and efficient. Doing so frees up time and resources that can be better used to deliver the essential technologies needed to drive business success.

Manually performing routine tasks and complicated processes eats up both time and money, and automating those efforts can make the difference between keeping pace with customer demand and falling behind.

This is where Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform comes in. 

A recent IDC study—the business value of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform1—showed a significant return on investment for organizations that deployed the platform, with improvements shown in IT infrastructure management, application development speed, and better IT security response times, among other things.

What is Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform?

Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform is a single, flexible solution for building and operating IT automation at enterprise scale and across a range of domains (network, infrastructure, etc.). The platform includes the key tools and certified content you’ll need to quickly implement automation across your organization, allowing you to govern and manage your IT operations more efficiently.

Ansible Automation Platform includes a visual dashboard, role-based access control (RBAC), trusted content that works with your ecosystem, and other automation tools, such as Red Hat Insights for Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, which provides management and analytics for automation running across your organization. 

Business value of Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Among the nine organizations interviewed in the study, the projected Ansible Automation Platform ROI over five years is an impressive 667%. This return is expected through IT cost savings, staff efficiencies, better application development and improved business results.

What’s more, the ROI "break-even" point is projected to come early in the process, occurring after approximately 10 months.Figure 1.ROI is only one metric, however, and while impressive, it doesn’t really tell the whole story. Let’s take a look at the various business value results that feed into that number so you can get a clearer picture of the practical benefits study participants experienced.

Business value results

Study participants adopted Ansible Automation Platform because they were hoping to achieve a number of different results, including:

  • Reducing human error caused by manual patching and manual processes.

  • Automating their build processes to reduce configuration drift and the outages that can cause.

  • Helping teams manage more applications with the same number of people.

  • Getting better analytics and more advanced capabilities through a paid subscription to Ansible Automation Platform.

But what practical business value did they actually achieve? Here are a few of the benefits organizations reported.

Focus on more strategic planning and projects

It’s possible to wholly or partially automate a significant number of typical IT tasks, including configuration management, provisioning, orchestration, application deployment and security and compliance.

Automating any of these day-to-day tasks frees up IT staff time, and the more that’s automated, the more time becomes available to work on innovation and higher value projects. In an age of rapid digital transformation and hybrid cloud computing, this gives organizations an edge as they are faster and more agile than the competition in serving customers.

Study participants reported:

  • 30% more efficient IT infrastructure management.

  • 29% more efficient network infrastructure management.

  • 75% faster deployment of new storage resources.

This represents a significant reduction in repetitive manual tasks for these IT teams.

As IT organizations face hiring challenges and skills shortages, automation can help make existing staff more productive and able to focus on higher value tasks.  Part of an automation journey also involves a cultural change to adopt an "automation-first" mindset as teams realize that automation frees them from rote tasks and makes their jobs more interesting and fulfilling.  

Improve effectiveness of application development teams

Automation also facilitates faster deployment of new infrastructure and enables continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, both of which help increase developer productivity. Teams that participated in the study reported a 25% productivity boost when they started to use Ansible Automation Platform, including a 39% increase in the number of applications they were able to deliver in a year.

Increase IT security efficiency

In terms of security, Ansible Automation Platform helped study participants’ security operations become 30% more efficient according to respondents. As stated on the white paper, "The platform’s built-in capabilities helped to secure workloads and applications, thereby helping IT security staff to be more productive and effective in securing both network infrastructure and data."

Reduce both planned and unplanned downtime

After deploying Ansible Automation Platform, the participating companies saw a 58% reduction in the number of unplanned outages per year—and when outages did occur, they were resolved 44% faster. Overall, this led to 76% fewer hours lost per user, which is a significant savings in the value of lost productivity.

Not only were organizations able to reduce the frequency and impact of unplanned downtime, they were also able to reduce the downtime required for planned outages as well.

Improve customer experience

Ansible Automation Platform also improves customer satisfaction by enabling teams to deliver higher-quality and more timely services. With the right tools, teams can collaborate across the organization to create and automate processes that allow them to scale up more efficiently and operate more effectively to deliver great customer experiences.

3 keys to success

It would be great if you could get the maximum business value simply by deploying new software and tools, but adopting automation requires you to address skill-set gaps, cross-team collaboration and fundamental cultural issues as well.

Close skill-set or talent gaps

In order for automation initiatives to be successful, you should ensure that your teams have the skills they need to effectively adopt and utilize your chosen platform. To this end, Red Hat offers a full suite of training and certification options for Ansible Automation Platform, which you can read more about in the Red Hat Ansible skills path.

Think platform over silos

It’s all well and good to automate discrete tasks and existing workflows within each silo, but this should only be the beginning of your automation journey. The true value in automation comes with a platform approach, when you can go beyond simple task automation and refocus towards cross-team outcomes.

As the study points out, "The difference between a silo-based automation approach and a platform approach is that collaboration, data access and analytics accelerate transformation...and improve operational efficiencies in a more concrete, deeper, and broader approach."

Establish an automation-first mindset

Of course, all of this represents a fairly significant shift in how teams think about their work, and about how they work together. Establishing this sort of "automation-first" mindset requires a similarly fundamental cultural shift, and possibly establishing a new leadership position—the automation architect—to drive those initiatives across the organization.

Conclusion

IT leaders are adopting automation across their organizations faster every day because of the dramatic benefits like those we see from the customer feedback in this IDC paper.  

Ansible Automation Platform can help your teams focus on more strategic projects, innovate and ship applications more quickly, reduce both planned and unplanned downtime, improve security response times and take advantage of emerging opportunities more quickly.

You can begin your automation journey by experimenting with smaller automation projects, having your teams update their skills with training and certification, and start working to establish an "automation-first" mindset across your organization.

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About the author

Deb Richardson is a Contributing Editor for the Red Hat Blog, writing and helping shape posts about Red Hat products, technologies, events and the like. Richardson has over 20 years' experience as an open source contributor, including a decade-long stint at Mozilla, where she launched and nurtured the initial Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) project, among other things.

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