Headquartered in Tokyo, SoftBank is one of Japan's largest telecommunications service providers. In 2015, the company adopted the slogan “Half & Twice” which aimed to reduce manual efforts and costs by half through the use of technologies and simultaneously double productivity and creativity. In 2016, they adopted the slogan “Smart & Fun!” to encourage employees to use the time saved through the use of technologies for innovative and creative activities to further the business. As part of this initiative, the company looked to reduce manual efforts by automating the process of updating SSL certificates on load balancers used for server access of back-end of websites for the general public, in addition to in-house systems.
SSL certificates are important for the security of a server connection, however, updating each system required different operators and procedures. For the updates, SoftBank needed to prepare a manual for each operation with each update taking 30 minutes to two hours to perform and dependent on individual skills. Additionally, changes to industry rules now required more frequent updates to SSL certificates — requiring SoftBank to make updates about 800 times per year.
To automate the process of updating SSL Certificates and reduce work hours, SoftBank deployed Red Hat Ansible Tower. Using Red Hat Ansible Tower, SoftBank reports a reduction in the time required for updating from as much as two hours down to as little as 20 seconds. SoftBank has also been able to reduce work hours for updating by 99%. Additionally, using Ansible Playbooks to share automation across the company, updates can now be performed more accurately and quickly. SoftBank reports that burdens on employees who conducted the updates at night were also reduced, and spare time has been used to learn new skills and improve operations.
To execute the initiative, SoftBank worked closely with Red Hat Consulting. The consulting programs led to further improvement and automation of operations, and about 30% of employees in the department using Red Hat Ansible Tower obtained a “Red Hat Expert Certificate - Ansible Automation.”
SoftBank currently has plans to further automate operations and expand the devices automated with Red Hat Ansible Automation including data centers inside and outside the company, networks, appliance devices for internal networks, and existing servers.