Minimizing Business Unit Conflict with Patch Automation

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The conflict of system availability needs for business value vs. the necessity of system security and maintenance downtime is a classic and seemingly unresolvable conflict. We are developing solutions to reduce the endless negotiation cycle for outage windows that frustrates operations teams. At the same time, we are giving application owners and stakeholders peace of mind and more flexibility around their outage windows. By using Ansible Core and Tower to automate the process of patching, we are delivering self-service capabilities to address compliance needs and availability needs all at once.

In addition to resolving conflicts, we were able to save valuable time and human effort that had been dedicated to the patching process. We went from 1,932 man-hours per year for patching to between 72 and 100 man-hours per year. We believe that more than 40 of those reduced man-hours are preparation and coordination hours for those few systems that are still one-off custom jobs. So, we really believe that actual patching man-hours is closer to 30 hours per year, most of which is the actual running time for the jobs in Tower.

This session is designed to walk attendees through both the technical and business process of building an automated patching solution. In other words, we will demonstrate the technology to automate patching, while simultaneously pointing out communication/business value/culture pointers for a smooth, efficient process at both the technical and organizational levels. The session is meant to cover the process in a multi-faceted fashion. We seek to give attendees a real-world feel for what they will encounter when building out solutions in public, private, and non-profit organizations. All while giving them “tips and tricks” to anticipate, navigate, and overcome the inevitable hurdles.

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Abraham Snell, Southern Company