IT automation is key to IT efficiency, agility and control. Here are some of my recent thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to share yours.
People and Automation
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- All automations ultimately start from people, not the other way around.
- Although automation has a role, it never takes the place of a good system administrator.
- Not everything can be automated, and not everything is worth being automated.
- Automation is never a self-propelled perpetual motion machine. It needs a driver – the human being.
- While system administrators in the driver seats, good feedbacks from the IT system are like dashboard and therefore indispensable.
- Good automation should empower system administrators to do works more efficiently and more consistently.
- An automated workflow is like a recipe. The goal is to repeat it in a consistent way regardless of cook.
Automation and APIs
- Automation is possible if and only if the target is programmable. Therefore APIs are crucial to automation.
- Reactive automation is possible only if the target is observable with metrics via APIs.
- Unified management APIs are helpful for a unified view of underlying infrastructure therefore simplify the automation development.
- API interoperability is a must to avoid automation islands in large scale IT systems.
Policy vs. Script
- Policy is easier to understand and author, but less flexible to extend beyond what’s already supported than scripting.
- Policy is good for most common use cases that don’t change much over time, while scripting is good for less common use cases that are hard to define their structures.
- With many automation scripts in place, the question of how I can get a work done becomes which script I should run.
- The “cloudier” an IT system, the more scripting for automation.