Automation & Scripting

“The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less” – Leonardo da Vinci

IT has a relatively rare opportunity that comes around every day: we are among the few that can automate our own work.  There are suites of software, both for purchase (with enterprise support) and open-source, experiencing a golden age across all industries, all geographies, and all sizes of firms.  There are four major hurdles to clear before you, too, can start to have your infrastructure manage itself:

  1. Not enough time to identify, test, and deploy the right solution
  2. No support from upper management
  3. No scripting or programming ability on the team
  4. Automating one’s self out of employment

Not enough time.  Time is easy to spend, but very difficult to invest.  The verb ‘invest’ implies that one gets back some of what is invested – savings accounts, stocks, bonds, etc.  Identify the top ten tasks you and your team execute on a regular basis.  Do the math – what would it mean for your team’s productivity, or personal time, if those tasks could be executed cleanly, consistently, and with minimal effort (a few minutes to kick off the script)?  I ask, as a fellow human being, that teams recognize this as an opportunity to reclaim the nights and weekends that we, as IT infrastructure professionals thought were lost forever.

No internal support.  First, an open source solution means maybe management doesn’t have to know until there’s enough evidence to demonstrate the value.  It may be difficult to build and test the solution while getting everything else done, but please believe it’s worth it.  Second, depending on which study you read, human error is responsible for somewhere between 75-90% of all service-impacting outages.  A missed keystroke, a forgotten component, a distraction at just the right moment.  Any and all of these have led to service outages, which lead to lost productivity, complaints and business interruptions. A properly scripted solution can eliminate these results of human error.

No scripting or programming knowledge.  Many of these solutions are specifically designed for infrastructure professionals who’ve written few, if any, scripts or compiled code.  They include wizards, drag-and-drop workflow builders, and more.  They’re enjoying this golden age because they’re comprehensive and accessible.  Because there are multiple options, it also means you have the opportunity to select one that’s a good fit for your team.  Also, there’s a multitude of script samples and a large community out there for each and every solution. Find one that fits your infrastructure, make those minimal modifications you need, and get up and running.

No more work.  It’s true – you may script yourself out of this job.  But what happens to the resourceful IT Engineer who demonstrates some leadership and growth in organizational maturity?  They get promoted, or they get hired away as a consultant to help other companies do the same.  Evolution is inevitable, and every person on the team has an opportunity to start it, push it forward, or be left behind.  When it’s all over, it’s not just the team that’s evolved, but the active participants as well.

These challenges are far from insurmountable and deploying an automation suite will allow you to better document your infrastructure and test procedures…all of which will help win your management over even further with the demonstrated increase in maturity – accompanied by cost savings and workforce efficiency – they’ve never knew they always wanted.

What has your experience been with automation? Worth the investment? Leave a comment.