Datacom increases efficiency with Red Hat Ansible Automation
As previously published on the RedHat.com
As a Red Hat Advanced Business Partner, New Zealand’s largest managed IT services organisation, Datacom is uniquely positioned to provide solutions to the market across all Red Hat product lines.
From its inception, Datacom pursued a customer-focused philosophy. For over five decades, that philosophy has allowed the company to succeed and become one of Asia Pacific’s leading locally owned, IT-based service providers. Today, Datacom’s 5,000 plus staff continue to follow the Datacom vision of designing, building, and running IT systems and processes that are aligned to its clients’ business goals.
- Valued access to Red Hat expertise is reflected in the bottom line
- Reshaped service offerings using Red Hat solutions
- Value in being both a Red Hat Advanced Business Partner and Red Hat Certified Cloud Service Provider
Transforming technology trends drives Datacom business growth record
Datacom recognises that the business landscape in which it operates is highly disruptive. Emerging technologies are forcing established organisations to move away from traditional technology processes. It has seen firsthand the shift to a multi-vendor landscape as open source providers have an increased presence in the market.
In client discussions, Datacom’s message is clear—the transforming trend of solutions that demand Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as a software distribution model is well established. Already one of the largest Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux in New Zealand, Datacom is well placed to service such an environment.
Datacom conducted a customer-focused analysis and review program with its outreach initiative, “Voice of the Customer.” Santana Faint, General Manager, Business and Data Platforms (A/NZ) at Datacom, explained how the marketplace was demanding faster delivery of solutions, allied with an increased project process engagement. “The Datacom customer-first philosophy demanded that the company be proactive to change and to align its offering to match the needs and visions of its clients.” Faint added, “The Red Hat portfolio of open source solutions is a natural fit.”
Strong Red Hat partnership delivering best customer outcomes
Datacom has enjoyed a partnership relationship stretching over a decade with Red Hat. Faint explained the underlying value of the partnership was the level of collaboration between the two companies. Red Hat encouraged Datacom to continually test its thinking and explain its challenges. “The result is that Red Hat comes back to us with ideas and suggestions about how we can adapt our service offerings,” he said.
Joseph Tejal is Datacom’s Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation based in Wellington. “Whenever a new technology emerges, Red Hat always gives us updates and gives us access to some of the play boxes where we can play with and learn about the technology. Red Hat Online Partner Enablement Network (OPEN) access to online training is a good example. It is very useful and a lot of Datacom people are using it. Many of our certifications are a result of that opportunity. The level of collaboration is particularly appreciated by our technical people. Red Hat offers first-class, flexible training which ensures a common language and confidence that Datacom teams are delivering quality systems with integrity,” he said.
Faint emphasised this aspect of the relationship. “Red Hat is proactive, and it keeps us on our toes. Its personnel talk to us about how we can make best use of the partnership, including taking part in the testing of new products,” he said. “An important extra factor is the direct connection we enjoy with the Red Hat teams, such as SA, Account Manager, and Technical Account Manager (TAM). At the working level, Red Hat brings a lot of tools, strategic roadmaps and timely updates for our technology solutions. All of which deliver the best outcomes in a partnership such as ours.”
Ansible winning customer approval
Because Ansible was getting the attention of many Datacom customers, the company chose to focus on using Ansible as the orchestration glue for automation. Datacom constructed the platform which made it easily consumable while allowing customers to leverage the automation elements. Datacom is witnessing application developers use the infrastructure stack to deploy the apps on different technologies.
Tejal explained that it wasn’t by chance that Datacom standardised on Red Hat Ansible Automation. “There was a lot of rigor put around our decision making,” he said. “We needed to be able to use it in public cloud environments and across different platforms. It is recognised as an outstanding automation and orchestration language and platform among our customer base.”
Ansible proved its value to customers who needed an entire database consolidation. Datacom was able to streamline the statement of work process that would have taken many hours of work from support and database teams previously and is now accomplished with the click of a button.
Faint emphasised the importance of the company’s CCSP status. “It is quite key for us since customers want more flexibility with their licensing and with their hybrid cloud strategies,” he said. “We have been able to extend CCSP to more products such as Ansible and OpenShift.
“We are seeing excitement about Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS) as a platform. The container concept had been a buzz word for some years, but customers may not have known where to start. Now they have a platform to which they can migrate securely. Customers are seeing for themselves how easily and powerfully Red Hat OpenShift delivers automated installation, upgrades, and life-cycle management throughout the container stack.”
Revenue, productivity, and benefits
Datacom is attracting new customers as a result of offering Red Hat Ansible Automation and because it provides Red Hat Certified Cloud Service Provider (CCSP) licensing. Faint explained that customers were reacting favorably to the measurable productivity gains they are enjoying through Ansible. Additionally, because Datacom is the first organisation offering CaaS in New Zealand, Datacom is attracting many new customers. While New Zealand Customs was the first to deploy the Datacom CaaS solution, Datacom has now built a strong pipeline of customers ready to come on board that platform.
Productivity gains achieved with Ansible
Operational efficiencies are embedded into existing Datacom managed services offerings, but Datacom targets extra efficiency gains of 20% as a result of Ansible’s orchestration and automation capabilities. “The technology is enabling us to deliver projects faster and meet aggressive targets in site switches and system restarts.
“Just one example—although true of many Datacom customers—where a customer who underwent a complete site swap of the production environment. It was completed within 30 minutes. It involved a myriad of products such as Oracle products, F5 networks loader balancer, Linux servers and business processes. It was a complex environment with some extremely high security features. Yet it was achieved with just one person to execute the entire job instead of organising 10 people to give up their weekend. Incidentally it also eliminated the ever-present threat of human error. Many times, we have rebuilt an entire environment in a matter of hours rather than weeks.”
CCSP program provides added value for Datacom customers
The Red Hat CCSP program allows customer-focused solutions while keeping costs down and efficiency high. Flexible pricing and deployment models enable customers to tailor their cloud infrastructure and services to suit their business planning. “For instance, we have customers who need to provision their technology environment on a short-term basis to align with development practices. CCSP allows them to achieve that without locking into a perpetual model which may not deliver the full value of their investment,” Faint said.
Operational automation promising future opportunity
Using Ansible as an orchestration and automation engine, Datacom is in the process of offering PaaS, leveraging its already established IaaS to potentially provision solutions like JBoss®-as-a-Service. It also sees the opportunity to offer Database-as-a-Service and enhancing its container platform server and putting into its datacenters and other clouds as well.
Datacom believes that operational automation will remain a strong future opportunity. It also believes that Red Hat will continue to help Datacom deliver the services efficiently and meet Datacom’s contracted SLAs. “Our standards have been set to meet best practice and security so whatever we send out absolutely aligns with those standards,” Faint said.
“Red Hat certification shows industry recognised credibility about our skills. It contributes to our Red Hat partnership status and meets our partnership requirements. Our prospective customers are savvy. They ask how many people we have certified. Our answer helps our competitive profile when pitched against rival bidders.”
Datacom has grown over five decades to become one of Asia Pacific’s leading locally owned IT-based service providers. This has enabled Datacom to provide a broad range of services and solutions including software development, cloud advisory, datacenter operations, payroll and customer experience design, IT services and security management. It serves a strong mix of customers that includes large government departments in Wellington, NSW and Western Australia. Major commercial customers are active across many sectors.
Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver high-performing Linux, cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies.
Managed cloud services refers to outsourcing daily IT management for cloud-based services and technical support to automate and enhance your business operations. Often, internal IT departments don’t possess the skills to effectively monitor and maintain a cloud environment. In these situations, a company hires a third-party cloud managed services provider to manage cloud security, computing, storage, network operations, application stacks, vendors and more.