Here is the latest article in the eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.
Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.
These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.
Today’s Topic: Automating Connections Among Key Enterprise Apps
Name the problem to be solved: CarFax (a unit of IHS Markit; NASDAQ: INFO) owns one of the most comprehensive vehicle history database in North America, receiving information from more than 100,000 data sources. As a web-based company, CarFax depends on its in-house developer team to create, update and patch its products. In order to efficiently manage the development lifecycle, the development team needed to find a better way to work with their apps.
They use Jira for project management and ServiceNow for incident resolution and ticketing. Trying to work with both apps without automation created several bottlenecks in the development process. Specifically, moving incidents from ServiceNow to the appropriate developer’s Jira project board was complicated and took too much extra work. The disconnect between Jira and ServiceNow also made change management—the process of updating or changing interdependent systems—much more complicated.
“Our main goal has been to make it easier for our development teams to work through the incident management process and through the change management process without having to switch around from one tool to another,” said Nathan Underwood, an automation engineer at CarFax.
Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: Initially, the CarFax team considered creating a hard-coded integration between its primary apps, Jira and ServiceNow, but they quickly realized it would be a better use of resources to use a platform to create these automations. They needed a solution that could perform both integration and automate workflows.
“While we could take the time to develop a native integration between the two apps, it would've taken us a lot more time than it did with Workato,” says Underwood. “Maintaining that integration would also take up more of our time. Since we have a limited amount of resources, we decided that an integration platform would be a better way to go.”
List the key components in the solution: The team selected Workato due to its ability to handle a wide variety of use cases. “Workato was the only platform that could address both integration and automation,” Underwood said. “We did our proof of concept for the change request process, and we were able to basically go from having Jira and ServiceNow not talking at all, to having data flowing back and forth the way we wanted it—all within just a couple of hours.”
Key Results of the Workato Solution:
- ServiceNow incidents are now automatically moved to the appropriate developer’s Jira board when an incident is created or assigned.
- Submit change requests in ServiceNow with the click of a button in Jira for a streamlined change management/approval process that eliminate bottlenecks.
- Sample change requests are created in ServiceNow by Workato.
- Better tracks change requests from creation to deployment, reducing errors, creating efficiency and saving time.
Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project: Workato allows CarFax developers to create new products while effectively supporting older ones. Time saved on support can be spent on new projects. CarFax estimates that each process automated would have taken 200 hours of development time and an additional 40 hours of testing to integrate JIRA and ServiceNow without Workato. Workato did it eight times faster.
- Workato gave the team more time to work on new projects and products, running over 9,000 automated workflows per month.
- Created new integrations and maintains them 8x faster with savings upwards of $20,000.
- CarFax developers have submitted 396 change requests in six months. With time savings of about 10 minutes per request for this singular Workato automation, developers are saving 132 hours annually on change requests alone.
- Assuming a savings of 200 hours of development per use case and a cost of $100/hour, Underwood estimates that they’ve yielded $20,000 of employee time savings per use case for the initial development and testing.
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