Unleash your inner root

Striving For Unemployment: Automation and you!

Automation is a delicate subject in the world of IT. Some System Admin’s feel it is their sacred duty to “AUTOMATE ALL THE THINGS!”, Others feel it is a terrible idea to automate your job away. I currently work with one particular admin that feels that anything that takes away work from system admin’s is a “Bad idea” because they will fire you if you don’t do XX amount of YY yourself to show productivity….And honestly that might be true. Automation can in fact put you out of a job…And that is a good thing, let me explain.

There are two very important reasons why you should constantly “strive for unemployment” as I said in the title line. The first is for YOUR sanity. If you have the type of job that consists of your entire day being eaten up by tasks that could be automated, with no other work load…Your soul will soon be crushed. By the very definition of automation a task can’t be automated unless it is in its very nature tedious and repetitive. If your ENTIRE job is Tedious and repetitive: ITS TIME TO GET A NEW JOB. By a happy coincidence if you can managed to automate said job before you leave, and save some other poor admin from going through those horrors you have officially made the IT world a better IT place.

The second reason is for your safety. If you are constantly striving to automate away any tasks that you might have to do more than once, then you achieve a few notable points of control:

  1. YOU get to boldly take the statement of “This task is automated now and requires ZERO labor dollars” to management.
  2. YOU control the rate at which your job becomes automated, and thus can continually look for NEW things to add to your plate, making YOU look like a super man
  3. You gain increased reaction time to emergency situations, with less impact to daily performance. IE LESS STRESS FOR YOU!

The first two points are important. If you are constantly going to your manager and saying, “I automated this, it has gone from 2 hours of work every day to 5 minutes of work everyday, now I’m working on this next thing that I didn’t have time for before.” You are constantly telling them that you are not only doing a lot of work, but that you are constantly trying to make the business run BETTER. To be more EFFICIENT. Doing so can give you a few powerful benifits: 1) You know when your job is going to become obsolete, you can plan around it, you can get another job. 2) As your workload decreases your boss may (They may not, some people are assholes) remember the fact that you are a damn good admin and do damn good work. If you spend 1 day a week watching youtube for 8 hours, whats the big deal?

Let’s look at it from the OTHER direction. You automate nothing. No scripts, no configuration management software. Nothing. You do all the work manually, day in and day out…Then your boss discovers magic tool X that does 90% of what you do on a daily basis, but an idiot could do it. They fire you and hire someone for half the salary, and call it a win for the company because the cost of the software + the cost of the person to run the software is cheaper than you are each year. You have no control of that. You have no way to predict that.

I view my day in terms of two distinct time tables, repetitive task time, and Productive Admin Time. RTT is the time you spend doing things like..checking logs, running updates, resetting passwords. PAT on the other hand is the time you spend researching/solving a crisis. The main server that everyone does their work on exploded? its PAT time (productive admin time time) and when you get your PATT time on (productive admin time time time), great things happen, because PATTT time (you get the point) is where its AT (admin time? Or maybe just the word at. who knows).

The point is this: The IT world moves at an alarming rate. If YOU don’t automate your job away, someone else will do it for you, and you will be seen as obsolete, but if you can automate your job away without them having to buy special software to replace you, and you can continually show the management world that you know how to get your PATTTT on, then even if you DO lose your job because of automation, you will walk away from that job a legend. People will tell stories about the Last Samuradmin, Tom cruise will play YOU in a movie about your life…Your face will get carved into the fucking moon, and look down upon the world like a benevolent god.


Brandon.Graves • March 10, 2016

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