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How much time it takes to manually deploy a server

Updated: a day ago

One of our clients asked us to quantify the effect that bare-metal automation has on an Ops team of a service provider. It's a good question, so let's break it down.


Most service providers have various degrees of automation. Ansible, Puppet, Chef, (or Docker) have greatly accelerated the work of Devops/Netops but the bare metal part (server cleanup, RAID config, switch configuration) is still largely manual for most providers. We call this part the "last mile" gap of automation. Let's take a closer look what that means in terms of time.


Time it takes to setup a server


1. Action: Server re-wiring

Comment: Sometimes additional connections might be needed for certain application.

Done by: Datacenter technician/Remote hands

Time: 10m-30m depending on remote hands SLA



2. Action: VLAN Configuration

Comment: A network admin needs to add the newly cabled port into a VLAN, configure VLAN L3 configurations if needed.

Done by: Network engineer

Time: 10m-30m


3. Server RAID configuration

Comment: A devops sometimes needs to configure a RAID array before a server can be used.

Done by: Devops engineer

Time: 10-15m



4. OS Install

Comment: A devops needs to setup an OS on a server.

Done by: Devops engineer

Time: 10m-15m


5. Network & Firewall configuration

Comment: A devops needs to setup an network and firewall configuration of the server.

Done by: Devops engineer

Time: 15m


Total staff time: 1h-2h (sum of actual work time assuming no transfer delays between staff)



People involved: 3


Average delay between people: 3h

Total time with realistic delays: 2 work days (12-13h working hours)


Given that this spreads across multiple people and might be over the 8h commonly worked in normal companies, this means that in average a server can be delivered in 2 working days assuming no other work that needs to be done on the server (such as install applications and no unnecessary delays.


Let's say our service provider provisions around 50 servers a week. This means that in total, the staff spends 50h-100h of work which is avoidable through the use of bare metal automation.


But "How can you 'automate" physical re-cabling, RAM & disk upgrades?" you might ask and it's a good question. We'll take a closer look at this in another post.



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