Years ago, long before I wrote, Building Your I.T. Career or the first 4 page document titled, “Concept Over Process: A Formal Project Methodology,” I had another term to describe my approach to technology.
I had been with Blue Cross for some time. I’d started automating reporting solutions by stringing together batch files – that called other batch files – with parameters and other data. Then, I’d output data from an old Clipper databases –then “Shelled” out to Harvard Graphics from a command line. It would read that text file and turn it into a more graphically appealing bar chart.
There were really no integrated packages at the time.
At one point, I was asked how I came up with these solutions.. Not the technology, mind you. That was not their question.
The question was about the thought process used to conceptualize them. They were asking about my thinking, not my technology.
My response – one I still use now when teaching technology to others…
“I’m Ambitiously Lazy!”
There.. it’s out! My dirty little not-so-secret.
I hate doing tedious things over and over again. When it comes to tedious activities, I’m lazy. I dislike those tedious activities so much that I get ambitious about removing them from what I do.
I hate those tedious activities… More importantly, so do users. So do companies. In fact, so do network administrators and other I.T. professionals.
I admonish I.T. professionals all the time. “Automate I.T. first.” That is the only way you will be able to spend time on the automation that matters….. Automating what users are doing. Automating what executives are doing.
Automation is one of the most powerful functions of (the most valuable if you ask me) Information Technology.
It is the reason I started Pulse Infomatics. Having an executive or company owner “stoked” about the technology you provide him or his team, becoming the hero, is an amazing feeling. Technology that allows them to be more profitable and better able to deliver their product or service or see and act on information has tremendous value.
The lesson is a simple one.. Want to increase your value and grow your career more quickly?
Get Lazy…. Ambitiously Lazy!
Useful Automation Tools
Most of these are Microsoft-Centric Technologies. That is the primary world I live in. If you live in a different world (Mac, Linux, etc.), I would love for you to let me know the automation tools you use.
Many years ago.. in the days of Novell.. I was getting started with Windows NT 3.5. I wanted a logon script that branched based on security groups a user was part of. I was on the phone with a Microsoft tech support engineer (yeah, you could get them on the phone back then) and he said, “Look for Kick start.” Well, I don’t know how he actually spelled it when he said it. Them Internets was a crazy new thing.. but eventually, I found the early Kixtart (black on green) website and download.
The product does so much more but is much more accessible to most network administrators than something like VBScript or Powershell. I have some articles I wrote on it years ago.. but they are still relevant. Blog Intro to Kixtart | Kixtart scripts and INI files.
Active Directory Services Interface – ADSI
I’ve used ADSI – but often use Kixtart scheduled batch scripts to do the same thing. However, want to automate Active Directory functions and tools.. This is a great place to start.
This is where Microsoft is going with automation. It can be a bit of a learning curve to get started for a lot of system administrators but it will expose all sorts of Active Directory objects for you. You want this in your automation toolkit.
I think, for many Microsoft system administrators, their first man crush was on Mark Russinivich and Bryce Cogswell. Not specifically automation, their tools are essential for troubleshooting all sorts of administrative tasks. Used in conjunction with more advanced scripts, you can truly isolate where permissions and registry issues arise. Start with RegMon and Process Monitor.
Google Apps Scripts
No secret that I’m in love with Google Drive (Google Apps). The most under-utilized, free, cloud-based application suite that no one has heard of. Create a Gmail account (I mean, seriously, if you are still using a yahoo account.. cut it out!). Just the sharing and collaboration tools are worth the price (remember, free) of admission. With their scripting app, you can automate transfer of data and other cool features.
Remember.. Ambitiously Lazy! What is in your automation toolkit?