Automation Savings Planner

July 14, 2021 by Roger Lopez

Pre-plan your automation savings with Red Hat Insights for Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Enterprise organizations understand that to be leaders in their industries, they must change the way they deliver applications, improve their relationships with customers and gain competitive advantages.

Positioning those advantages to have a positive return on investment often starts with proper planning and automation.

But what does proper planning of your automation even look like?

For some enterprises, proper planning includes reducing automation costs. For others, it’s reducing time spent to open new opportunities.

With this in mind, Red Hat is excited to introduce Automation Savings Planner, a new enhancement that puts automation planning in the forefront within the hosted services on console.redhat.com.

The Automation Savings Planner is designed to provide a one stop shop to plan, track and analyze potential efficiency improvements and cost savings of your automation initiatives.

How does it work?

Users can create an automation savings plan within Red Hat Insights for Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform by defining how long and often the work is done manually, as well as a list of tasks needed to successfully automate this job.

Once defined, you can integrate your newly automated savings plans to automation controller’s job templates to help accurately detect if the automation is successfully running across your infrastructure. You can also view projected cost and time savings from automating the job over time.

With these enhancements, you get a detailed overview on how to optimize and prioritize the various automation jobs throughout your organization, based on time and money saved. This allows you to decide what things are most important to automate first.

Ready to start saving? Let’s get started!

The first step is to create an automation savings plan that defines the tasks needed to complete an automation job. 

First in the side navigation of the Insights section, select the Savings Planner navigation item. Then, click on the blue button labeled Add plan.

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Within the Create new plan section, fill out the details for the task you want to automate. The questions include:

  • What do you want to automate? (e.g., Provision an Apache server)
  • What type of task is it? (e.g., Operating System)
  • A description of your automation plan
  • How long does the process take to complete manually? (e.g., 4 hours)
  • How many hosts do you plan to run the automation on? (e.g., 1)
  • How often do you plan to run the automation? (e.g., weekly)

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Once you’ve completed the Details section, select the blue Next button on the lower left pane of the window.

Within the Tasks section, list out all the tasks that are needed to complete this plan. Write out each task and select the (+) to add it to your Tasks list. 

For example, if we were looking to successfully install an Apache web server, we’d likely include tasks such as:

  • Install Apache package
  • Start HTTPD service
  • Enable HTTPD service
  • Enable firewall port 80
  • Configure VirtualHost
  • Secure Apache web server

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Once you’ve completed the Tasks section for your specific plan, select Next

NOTE: These tasks are for your planning purposes, and do not currently factor into the savings estimates provided by Insights for Ansible Automation Platform.

Lastly, within the Link template section, select the appropriate template to link to this plan and click Save

Once saved, you can view the newly created plan details. 

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In this Details view you will find a summary of all the options created and selected for your plan. 

If you notice something is amiss, you can easily make changes to your plan using the Edit button located at the bottom left corner of the Details section. 

And that’s it!

With this newly created plan we can use Automation Savings Planner to share a projection of how much time and money you could save by automating a specific job. Insights for Ansible Automation Platform takes data from the plan details and the associated job template to provide you with an accurate projection of your cost savings when you complete this savings plan.

Where can I find these stats?

Simply navigate to your Automation Savings Planner page, click on the name of an existing plan and navigate to the Statistics tab. You can also get to this screen by clicking the “Projected Savings” links in the card-based list of savings plans.

The statistics chart displays a projection of your monetary and time savings based on the information you provided when creating a savings plan. Primarily, the statistics chart subtracts the automated cost from the manual cost of executing the plan to provide the total resources saved through automation. The chart then displays this data by year to show you the cumulative benefits for automating the plan over time.

Click between Money and Time to view the different types of savings for automating the plan. An example is shown below.

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How are the Money and Time values determined?

Risk-adjusted factors are used to create a 3-year model projection of costs and savings related to automation. The objective is to provide as accurate a representation of cost and savings as possible but understand that actual values may differ in practice.

The following information breaks down:

  • where we get the data
  • the risk-adjustment factors we use
  • the assumptions we make
  • the formula used to compute the values as displayed in the chart

The cost portion of the formula includes hours spent in

  • Implementation
  • Deployment
  • Training
  • Other expenditures for creating, maintaining & running the automation

The hours (cost of investment) are typically higher on the onset and are greatly reduced once the automation has been created and only maintenance is required. 

For the initial period (including the first year), the formula uses the following variables for its calculation.

  • TIME - time for manual run on one host (in hours) multiplied by 10
  • BufferTime -extra time for unforeseen and unaccounted delays and familiarization with requirements
  • RISK - a 40% risk adjustment¹ is applied for unforeseen situations

The formula for the initial period and first year is represented as follows:
C1 = TIME + BufferTime

C2 = C1 * RISK

initial cost = (C1 + C2) * COST

year 1 cost = (C1 + C2) * COST²

The next two years after the first year, the formula uses the following variables for its calculation. 

  • TIME - time for manual run on one host (in hours) multiplied by 4
  • RISK - a 40% risk adjustment¹ to account for unforeseen situations

The formula for the next two years is represented as follows: 

C1 = TIME

C2 = C1 * RISK

year 2 cost = (C1 + C2) * COST²

year 3 cost = (C1 + C2) * COST²

With the details on how cost is calculated for the plan, let’s talk about savings.

The savings indicates the time and money saved as a result of automating the plan. 

A 50% productivity recapture rate is taken to account for the productivity that is gained by repeated manual implementation of a task over a period of time. Included is a -5% risk adjustment for unforeseen situations that may arise and need to be handled.

A savings growth rate of 15% year over year is used. 

The initial period of money savings results in $0. As such no formula is necessary for that period. 

The formula to calculate savings for the initial period is shown below:

Initial period of Savings = $0 - initialCost

The  formula used for savings for year one are:

S1 = (HOSTS * (TIME/60) * FREQUENCY)

S2 = S1 * RECAPTURE

S3 = S2 * RISK * COST²

Year One Savings = S2 - S3 - Year One Cost

 HOSTS - number of hosts
TIME - manual time in minutes
FREQUENCY - yearly frequency of automation
RECAPTURE - 50% productivity recapture
RISK - 5% Risk Adjustment

The formula used to capture savings for year two:

S1 = Year One Savings * GROWTH

Year Two Savings = Year One Savings  + S1 - Year 2 Cost

GROWTH - 15% Growth

The formula used to capture savings for year three:

S2 = Year Two Savings * GROWTH

Year Three Savings = Year Two Savings + S2 -Year 2 Cost

And there you have it! The inner workings of how money and savings are calculated to give you the projected savings of automating tasks your organization is currently doing manually.

By using Automation Savings Planner, enterprise organizations can gain competitive advantages and a positive return on their investments by automating key elements of their business. This not only saves time and money, but allows businesses to expand their automation capabilities to deliver applications, meet expectations and improve their relationships with their customers. 

1 - A Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study

2 - Cost per hour in USD if applicable, based on display

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Ansible Automation Platform


 

Roger Lopez

Roger Lopez is a Principal Technical Marketing Manager bringing 10+ years of computer industry experience delivering high-value solutions used by our sales, marketing and engineering teams to develop best practice documentation & methods for internal and external customers. He is a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) with experience building solutions around Ansible, OpenShift and OpenStack.


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