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WWT Saves Time and Money Using Ansible Automation

By adopting Ansible automation, WWT IT is no longer asking themselves if they should automate; they’re asking what should they automate next?

How does Ansible benefit an IT organization?

The internal IT department of World Wide Technology (WWT) was looking for ways to automate mundane processes, save engineering hours and give IT staff time to do what they do best: innovate.

After onboarding Ansible, automations executed through ServiceNow surged. IT is no longer asking themselves if they should automate; they’re asking what should they automate next?

Not only is Ansible automation saving WWT time and money, but it’s allowing IT to get closer to the business. IT operations is spending more time on strategic initiatives related to Cisco ACI and F5.

Transcript

Jason Kayser, IT Infrastructure and Security Sr. Manager, WWT

World Wide Technology provides technology solutions for large enterprises and public agencies around the world. Our goal is to help customers use cutting-edge technology to realize business outcomes, and IT automation is a big part of that. Our relationship with Ansible is very strong. Our engineers have spoken to AnsibleFest and regularly contribute to Ansible meetups as well as the Ansible open source project.

So we had three different reasons we looked at Ansible originally. One was to remove non-value-add work that's wrapped around user management, things of that nature. The second thing we looked at from an Ansible perspective or automation perspective was we were starting a Cisco ACI journey. How do we deploy Cisco ACI in a way that was consistent and reliable and we trusted? The last one when I think about it was, how we make our engineers’ lives better? Our engineers do a lot of work that's again, non-value-add, but takes time from them.

So originally before we had Ansible, we had a number of different configuration management tools to do some level of automation. The other thing we had a lot of was engineers having their own scripts, their own methodologies for running their own automations, but it was very siloed, so an engineer may have one automation, another engineer may have another automation. There wasn't a lot of sharing.

Evan Cowden, Reliability Engineering Team Lead, WWT

One of the things that Ansible has really allowed us to do is develop a common language of ground IT that works for people of all skillsets. For people that are more experts in the operation specific details of their jobs, they can continue to work at a very high level with the abstractions that Ansible already has in place. By contrast though, if we really need to dig under the hood and do something as a power user, Ansible still relies on common tools like Python and PowerShell that people can still get into.

Kayser

With our adoption of Ansible, one of the things that we saw is it did start slow. The first automations that we had integrated with service now, we had a couple of them running a month which provided value. We've actually trended those automations month over month and we've seen this tremendous growth.

One of the things we’ve done with that is we've looked at each automation we run, we calculate the amount of time it takes to run those, and then we’ve done a base value of engineer hours to the hour saved, so we're calculating how much money we're saving and how many engineer hours we're saving based off of just that non-value-add work.

Adoption of Ansible and automation has been a real key thing for us being more efficient as an IT organization. As Ansible has become easier to adopt and more consumed by our engineers, it's now top of mind, so rather than maybe I’ll automate, the question my engineers are saying is, how do I automate?

Cowden

One of the things we realized when we started using Ansible is not just the cost of what we are doing, but the opportunity cost of what we were leaving on the table. Now that we've started automating away the mundane, we're able to move the organization forward working on initiatives like Cisco ACI, and so some innovative routing things with F5 and other technologies that really leave our organization on the cutting edge.

Because Ansible is so accessible, everybody is now speaking that common tongue when they go to automate their stuff and they're able to build more things in more impressive ways because they have so many more skillsets.