As an IT pro, automation fascinates me -- as a concept. While I spend much of my day on support tasks that don't seem to be able to be automated, I'm also surrounded by business owners and online entrepreneurs crying out that automation is essential to business success. The world seems to be in lust with automation.

Before I delve into what automation actually is (stay tuned for a future post), I'd like to know if the automation bell is ringing just as loudly in your world. Do we even have to debate if automation is optional in today's IT environment? Or is the concept just a bunch of hype from a growing number of automation vendors?

 

My theory is that the adoption of automation is relative to the size of your environment and size of your IT team. In the enterprise space, you wouldn’t think twice about scripting desktop software deployments or using a deployment tool. It just doesn’t make sense to touch every device manually. In smaller organizations, you might argue that it takes longer to automate a process for something than it would to do it manually on five or 10 servers.  Getting over that cost of adoption is key. You have to be happy knowing it WILL take you longer to research and automate things the first time, but the payoff comes in cost savings every time you need to repeat that process in the future.

 

Automation is also good for removing the "unique human" from the picture. Lessen your reliance on that one person who knows how to do the thing! Program the thing to be done by an automation tool so that others on the IT team know how to use it, too.

 

I think we would also see a difference in the rate of automation based on what you’re actually automating. Is it a priority to automate new server builds, or do you first tackle automatic service restarts (as an example of a support issue we can automate the healing of, before needing our intervention)?

 

Does the attitude of your IT department (and your organization) have an impact on how you view automation? We’ve had automation of sorts for a long time, from Kix32 scripts to Group Policy settings. Has your organization stopped there, or have you fully embraced modern automation recipes and infrastructure as code? Are Powershell and Bash a regular, helpful part of your day, a necessary evil, or still as foreign as speaking Hungarian (unless, of course, you speak Hungarian)?

 

I’ve asked a lot of questions in this article and I’m really keen to hear your thoughts. I mix with some amazing people who have automation finely tuned, and other IT pros who are still wondering why they’d invest the time. As DevOps meets traditional IT ops, does automation provide the common ground of configuring code to benefit IT pros?