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The Value of Transformative and Pervasive Automation

Four years ago, the Britain-based McLaren F1 team reignited a partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda. The two had worked together some twenty or thirty years prior and dominated proceedings, annihilating the competition. The plan this time was to emulate the eight titles that they had won during their first relationship. And possessing the strongest driver lineup on the grid ? Fernando Alonso and Jensen Button (already three world championships between them) ? seemingly nothing could stop them.

The ensuing years of their reunion were a car crash ? often literally. The car was slow, unreliable and near-impossible to drive. Both McLaren and Honda were deeply embarrassed, blaming each other for faults, design flaws, and a lack of cohesion. McLaren said the engine was at fault, Honda claimed it was the chassis. After three years, McLaren terminated the relationship and both Honda and McLaren undertook a huge reshuffle of their own technical teams. At this point, though, they were the slowest car on the grid, and their respective drivers ? bored of lining up at the back ? were taking mid-season breaks to pursue other endeavors such as the IndyCar500. The brand damage to McLaren and Honda has been significant amongst racing enthusiasts and will be lasting if they cannot rapidly get back to the front as part of new teams.

This story mirrors the situation in software of how quickly and how badly something can go wrong if different teams are not working on the same page. The teammates may have the same goal in mind, and while individually they might be amongst the most talented, collectively they fail. Customers (in the above analogy, drivers and sponsors) are unafraid to start looking at other options should failure ensue.

Modern enterprises often attempt to kickstart their stalled revenue growth by extensively hiring developers and investing heavily in the latest technology. DevOps practitioners know automation is important and employ a number of different point solutions. But none of these strategies work cohesively from mainframes to microservices.

As a result, the current state of deployment automation often looks like this: isolated, dependent on manually executed scripts, reliant on multiple open source tools, opportunistic, and haphazard. Islands of automation are certainly not capable of transforming enterprise behemoths into cutting-edge, Agile software companies. For automation to succeed and bring coherence to continuous delivery, it needs to be pervasive. Not in terms of the proliferation of separate automation tools ?which exacerbates the problem ? but rather in the form of a single, integrated platform.

Given the diversity of the current IT landscape and the DevOps toolchain, such a platform needs to be open. It has to exist everywhere, and this means within and across every tool, team, platform, location and so on. Pervasive and coherent deployment automation must span from mainframe to microservices, and from development environments to the largely distributed cloud environments of production. Integrating a unified automation platform brings a much-needed layer of consistency while allowing team members to continue using their tools of choice. Without flexible and dynamic automation as standard, enterprises will fall short of the productivity and revenue gains they are capable of.

Adopting pervasive automation with an automation platform can be a risk if the platform is not able to support modern twelve-factor apps as well as legacy mainframes and everything in between-and we know there is a lot of technical debt in between. At CA, we work towards this aim by ensuring you can become a modern software factory built upon enterprise-wide continuous delivery automation. As the backbone of the Modern Software Factory, CA Continuous Delivery Automation has coverage from mainframe to microservices and is designed and developed by automation experts at the forefront of the industry.

As the IT portfolio continues to expand, CA Continuous Delivery Automation can bring agility to legacy systems and compliance to agile systems. It provides the broadest platform support and toolset integrations in the market, meaning you don't need to operate in terms of bimodal IT; everything can be Agile and fast with the mainframe running at the same speed as modern serverless apps. In the digital era, where you are only as fast as your slowest moving part, this nimbleness is vital to get ahead of your competitors. If everything is adaptive and aligned with pervasive automation, the collective is better than the sum of its individual parts. In tangible business terms, this manifests as reduced costs, decreased risk exposure and increased revenue.

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ScottWilson contributed to this article