Random Thoughts on IT Automation
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
- 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.