The Automation Advantage report draws on findings from a survey of more than 400 IT executives across the world. The survey respondents are at various stages of automation maturity, from Fast Movers (the 20% most advanced in their automation practices) to the Followers (those at earlier stages of maturity).
Based on the survey findings, it’s clear that the more mature an organization’s IT automation is, the bigger the business advantage. For example, Fast Movers are able to deploy new features more frequently than Followers, giving them a first-mover advantage. Further, of the Fast Movers identified by the survey, 84% say their company’s agility has improved, while 75% say they use automation for business model innovation.
So, what do the Fast Movers tell us about how to use automation to get ahead of the competition? The following tips offer some insight into where Fast Movers are getting it right:
- Tip 1: Automate your application testing processes. 73% of Fast Movers have automated application testing processes, which is nearly four times that of Followers. According to one of the survey participants, this will have a knock-on effect on how rapidly new releases are deployed for competitive advantage. Dave McJannet, CEO ofHashiCorp, is reported as saying, “The best performers will probably deploy 20 times a day, because they’re making incremental changes each time, not massive ones. The rate of change is extraordinarily high, but the size of each change is very small. In that sense, these firms are massively de-risking their operations.”
- Tip 2: Include infrastructure provisioning and configuration management, alongside your application testing and application release processes in your automation scope – and automate as much as is feasible. The Automation Advantage report reveals that Fast Movers have automated 3.2 times the number of infrastructure provisioning processes as Followers, and 3.6 times the number of configuration management processes.
- Tip 3: Invest in automation tools, including those for application release, infrastructure provisioning and orchestration. Fast Movers are much more likely to use such tools, and to have implemented a cloud management platform (CMP). For example, 77% of Fast Movers, compared with 47% of Followers use a CMP. For one of the survey participants, this has raised the profile of his organization’s internal IT operation. Philippe Sersot, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, CA-SILCA (the IT subsidiary of the Crédit Agricole Group), said: “One benefit of adopting a cloud management platform has, of course, been cost reduction. But it’s also helped improve our image within the company. We provide the platform, and our customer can directly provision the infrastructure. Now SILCA is viewed as a mature subsidiary able to provide internal customers with a mature cloud solution.”
- Tip 4: Use infrastructure as code to enable developers to provision cloud resources that can host new applications in production. Clifton Menezes, Cloud Leader, Capgemini India, clarifies this point in The Automation Advantage, saying: “Lengthy traditional provisioning processes can derail efforts to automate application deployment pipelines. But infrastructure as code (IaC), offered by most cloud vendors today, allows an end-user to provision a cloud resource in seconds. The same is possible for any type of infrastructure, including a virtual private cloud or an API gateway.”
- Tip 5: Implement continuous delivery and release. According to Clifton Menezes, “The Fast Movers in the survey are achieving superior results from their automation initiatives, with the most advanced exploiting new tools to deploy code continuously.” Automation of the CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipeline is maturing and most elements of the CI/CD pipeline can be automated, even for legacy applications running on premises. Once automated, on-premises infrastructure has many of the characteristics of the cloud, including a high degree of virtualization and relative independence from hardware constraints through abstraction. The Automation Advantage report recommends that IT leaders should “evaluate CI/CD automation tools according to their ability to shorten the development cycle, maximize release velocity, and detect defects early and effectively”.
These tips are drawn exclusively from The Automation Advantage report and focus on both technology and process. The report also makes recommendations for cultural changes to support wider use of automation, and it offers tips on how to overcome the human barriers to successful automation adoption. I urge you to read the report for more tips and valuable insight that will help to ensure your automation activities really do deliver the promised automation advantage.
More tips can be found in the NEW research report 'The Automation Advantage’