Article by Kyle Green, Principal Architect & Co-Founder
How we got here
At Prodigy, we’re no strangers to uncharted territories, or at least projects and goals where the path to success isn’t entirely paved for us or our customers. Automation fits this bill. There are many challenges in accelerating the adoption of automation within a technology organization. Challenges range from human, technical complexity, skill gaps, leadership, and lack of structure in the identification and development of automated solutions. Essentially, we get what’s been in place for years, select individuals with a knack for scripting will decide certain tasks are better off automated. Most likely this decision was done to save time, maybe the task was being delegated to others and a script alleviates manual and error prone tasks, or potentially these individuals just saw it as a challenge they wanted to overcome (develop an easier way). Of course, there could also be a collection of scripts and templates developed by consultants that the organization then maintained to the best of their ability over the years.
Why is automation now at the forefront?
Technology is moving so quickly and with it are the demands for organizations to deliver applications and solutions at a much more rapid pace than years prior. Cloud has been a big enabler, and with it has come a long list of modern automation and orchestration tools. With concepts like CI/CD, containers, and dynamic infrastructure, automation underpins all of these – whether it be YAML for pipelines, ansible for network and OS configuration, or Terraform for infrastructure provisioning. Mastering these concepts and tools can vastly increase your organization’s productivity, system availability, and security. Not to mention, the faster solutions are developed and released to the public, the sooner they benefit (here’s looking at you public sector).
What is an automation practice and how can it help?
A “practice” is defined as the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method. In our world, we summarize an automation practice as a concerted effort to develop a team of individuals to act as stewards and subject-matter experts in the organization with the goal of accelerating the adoption of automation in IT. To accompany this, a vision for how automation will be adopted, measured for success, and repeated is a crucial part. When we first started helping organizations begin this journey, we often found that they had a lot of automation already in place, and even some new projects already in-flight. By standing up an automation practice and optional center of excellence (COE), we can begin to track these efforts, provide extra support that would have otherwise been missed, and keep executive leadership informed of progress. Our high-level building blocks for an automation practice include:
- Standing up an Automation Center of Excellence (CoE)
- Identify team members and align skills with responsibilities of the CoE
- Defining goals and creating a three year strategic plan
- Refine the Automation Candidate Criteria
- Embracing the automation lifecycle (see below)
- Identify one or more impactful use cases to run through the lifecycle and develop solutions for
- Show incremental process and begin filling the pipeline with new opportunities
Prodigy Consulting provides support for organizations ready to get serious about automation. We have strategic partnerships with Microsoft, RedHat, and HashiCorp. Contact us to learn more.
The following visual depicts the proposed Automation Lifecycle and candidate criteria:
Prodigy Consulting is a Microsoft Gold partner based out of Sacramento, CA and specializes in cloud, automation, and devops. Our services evolved from our consultant’s experience doing what it takes to make cloud adoption, migrations, and modernization successful for public sector clients. We offer expertise in all tiers of cloud maturity, from assessments, implementation, migration, to operationalizing. Intertwined is always top-tier project management, something we feel is a necessity in successful projects.