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For Government IT Professionals, Automation is Your Friend

Level 12

By Joe Kim, SolarWinds Chief Technology Officer

Government IT workers get a little squeamish on occasion. Understandable, right? I mean, federal IT managers must stay on top of the latest tech, which is constantly evolving. Legacy technologies are being replaced with shiny new cloud, virtualization, and networking software. Network complexity continues to grow, and budget and security concerns are always prevalent.

Underlying all of that may even be a sense of uncertainty regarding job security, some of which may stem from automation software. Don’t fret. Automation is your friend, and it can be used effectively to eliminate wasted time and unnecessary headaches.

Creating Their Legacy, Driving Innovation

Those should be comforting words for today’s federal IT professionals, who tend to have their fingers in a lot of pies. Beyond simply managing the network, growing network complexity, and initiatives like DevOps, have given administrators far more responsibility than ever before.

Today’s IT professionals can’t afford to be burdened with manual interventions that require hours – sometimes days – to fix. Furthermore, many like the idea of having time to do things that will help advance their agencies’ technology agendas, and create their own legacy.

Alert! Let’s Automate Responses!

Who wants to have to manually react to every single alert that comes through? Who has the time?

There’s a better way of dealing with alerts, one that won’t take hours away from your day.

Let’s take a look at a simple example. When a server alert is created because a disk is full, an administrator would typically deal with that task manually, perhaps by dumping the temp directory. What if they wrote a script for this task, instead. That would eliminate the need for a manual intervention?

Here’s another one. For whatever reason, an application stops working. Again, manually dealing with this challenge can be a painstaking, time-consuming process. Automation allows managers to write a script that enables the application to automatically restart.

Administrators can also evaluate their alerts to determine if an automated response is scriptable. This could create far fewer headaches.

Perhaps even more importantly, automated responses could free up IT time to develop and deploy new and innovative applications, for instance, or find better ways to deliver those applications to users.

Tools for the Job

Speaking of tools, there are certain types that should be considered. Change management and tracking, compliance auditing, and configuration backups should be on everyone’s automated wish list.

These tools save time and resources and greatly reduce errors that are sometimes created by manual tasks. These errors can lead to network downtime or potential security breaches. Meanwhile, they help to free up time for projects that can help your agency become more agile and innovative.

There are ways IT professionals can manage the hand they’re dealt more effectively and efficiently. They can use automation to make their lives easier and their agencies more nimble and secure. In turn, they can work smarter, not harder.

Find the full article on GovLoop.

10 Comments
rschroeder
Level 21

Leverage the tools you have and benefit from their work.  This is where SolarWinds excels.

But don't assume all your automation / tools are correctly setup--or even capable--to do the specific jobs.  Verify this before relying on your current configurations & tools' capabilities, lest you discover something was missing in your system that left you vulnerable.

Determine what's required, discover if your tools can serve the needs, and get new or different tools if your existing solutions can't meet your requirements.

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And remember that your familiarity with a certain tool might limit you.  Having a hammer in hand tends to lead one toward treating all problems as nails--and they're not.

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But if your problem IS a nail, go get the hammer; don't wreck your other tools that weren't mean for beating a nail.

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shuckyshark
Level 13

the problem I have is, IF they decide to replace the tools, they replace them with something that's been outdated for several years already...

Jfrazier
Level 18

this is so funny, automated operations - the topic of the article, has been alive and well since the early 1990's when it became an actual buzzword.

Why is it the new big thing at the federal level ? 

Yes it still exists and has grown in capability over the years due to new software and abilities to do things. 

To play it off as something totally new is.....is......darn, I got nothing.

rschroeder
Level 21

To play it off as something new is . . . Salesmanship.

Jfrazier
Level 18

yes..there is so much of that these days.

vinay.by
Level 16

ecklerwr1
Level 19

I'm in the middle of DSS audits this week... nothing like going line by line through the STIG's and proving each line item!

tallyrich
Level 15

As with all thing use with balance and always trust but verify!

network_defender
Level 14

Know what it is that you want to automate.  Don't automate just for automation's purpose.

d09h
Level 16

Sometimes a script seems like just the way to massage data coming into an environment.  And then another.  Over years, you have a bunch...and they make sense because you wrote them.  And then you leave.  Similarly, custom properties can meet a need at a point in time.  And then the purpose for their existence may change or go away.  Sometimes you have to go back and manually revisit, to make sure the automation isn't hurting you.

About the Author
Joseph is a software executive with a track record of successfully running strategic and execution-focused organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and globally distributed teams. He has demonstrated the ability to bring together disparate organizations through his leadership, vision and technical expertise to deliver on common business objectives. As an expert in process and technology standards and various industry verticals, Joseph brings a unique 360-degree perspective to help the business create successful strategies and connect the “Big Picture” to execution. Currently, Joseph services as the EVP, Engineering and Global CTO for SolarWinds and is responsible for the technology strategy, direction and execution for SolarWinds products and systems. Working directly for the CEO and partnering across the executive staff in product strategy, marketing and sales, he and his team is tasked to provide overall technology strategy, product architecture, platform advancement and engineering execution for Core IT, Cloud and MSP business units. Joseph is also responsible for leading the internal business application and information technology activities to ensure that all SolarWinds functions, such as HR, Marketing, Finance, Sales, Product, Support, Renewals, etc. are aligned from a systems perspective; and that we use the company's products to continuously improve their functionality and performance, which ensures success and expansion for both SolarWinds and customers.