Last week, I covered optimization as a skill to keep your IT environment in tip-top shape by constantly delivering the most optimal Quality-of-Service (QoS). This week, I’ll walk through automation as another high value-add skill for the virtual environment. Automation is one part best practice, one part policy, and one part execution.

 

Automation: the only way to scale IT’s most valuable resource – you the IT professional

Automation is a skill that requires detailed knowledge including comprehensive experience around a specific task such that the task can be fully encapsulated by a workflow script, template or blueprint. Automation, much like optimization, focuses on understanding the interactions of the IT ecosystem, the behavior of the application stack, and the inter-dependencies of systems in order to deliver economies of scale benefit and efficiency towards the overall business objectives. And it embraces the “do more with less” edict that IT professionals have to abide by.

 

Automate away

Automation is the culmination of a series of brain dumps covering the steps that an IT professional takes to complete a single task, one that the IT pro is expected to complete multiple times with regularity and consistency. The singularity of regularity is common thread in deciding to automate an IT process. The chart below entitled “Geeks and repetitive tasks” provides good perspective on an IT professional’s decision to automate.

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[2016 from https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/o40dv/geeks_and_repetitive_tasks/. Hosted on http://i.imgur.com/ONoeM.jpg ]

 

Automate the IT way: scripts, templates and blueprints

IT automation usually is embodied by scripts, templates and blueprints. These scripts, templates and blueprints are built upon an IT professional’s practice and methods. Ideally, it’s based upon best practices and tried and true IT methods. Unfortunately, automation cannot differentiate between good and bad practices. Therefore, automating bad IT practices will lead to unbelievable pain at scale across your data centers.

 

With this in mind, keep automation stupid simple. First, automate at a controlled scale and follows the mantra doing no harm to your production data center environment. Next, monitor the automation process to make sure that every step executes as expected. Finally, analyze the results to make necessary adjustments to the automation process.

 

Closing

Automation is the skill that allows an IT professional to scale beyond what they could do singularly. It is also a skill that builds upon the DART and Optimization skills. It seeks to maximize the IT professional’s time by freeing up more time to do other tasks. And next week, I’ll talk about Reporting, the last of the SOAR skills that virtualization admins need to SOAR their professional careers.