Agile cultural shift proves critical in ANZ’s automation project

How ANZ Bank learned and applied an agile approach to automate its networking infrastructure.

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‘Automation’ and ‘agile’ are two words at the start of most CIOs’ dictionary, and many would argue that you can’t have the first without the second. But how do you implement both with the same team at the same time, just after they’ve deployed a major transformation project?

That was the problem facing Anthony Watson, general manager, technology operations for New Zealand at ANZ Bank. His group has around 400 staff in New Zealand and offshore and its responsibilities include running the data centres, all compute, storage, networks, and 24/7 operations, as well as infrastructure programme and project delivery.

“Our network is incredibly large and complex, and it’s critical because if we get it wrong people end up leaving trolleys in supermarkets and can’t pay for their fuel,” Watson says. “If you look at our investments from an automation perspective, we’ve made some great progress in parts of our organisation. But there was a component that was harder to shift: the network side of things. We’re not yet a fully virtualised network architecture; there were some impediments there and we felt that automation was really a key asset or capability that we needed to achieve. A lot of the organisation had moved to agile delivery, but the network team hadn’t. They were still very much ‘Log a ticket and we’re going to get to it.’”

As a result, the networking function had become a bottleneck in the organisation, interrupting the networking flow, with other teams ending up in a 'wait state' which weren’t automated.

“Wait state refers to when a program or project team are unable to make progress on their delivery goals because they are in a line waiting for a service to be delivered, or infrastructure to be provisioned to enable them to keep working. An example is if your project needs a firewall rule change — you submit the change to the team that manages this  and they have an SLA of “X” to provision this, so you must wait. Our goal through automation is to remove as many ‘wait states’ for service/infrastructure provision as we can for these project teams,” Watson says.

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