Automation is Knowledge Conservation

000080;">Warning: This post contains just as much sarcasm as it contains serious content.

In many discussions I have founds that grasping the concept of automation is alien to most people´s mindset. Are you one of them? Do you really prefer to work your butt off doing seriously dull stuff than sitting in an arm chair with a cocktail? Or if you are not that lazy, do you really prefer mind numbing repetitive tasks to trying out thrilling new things or finding an elegant solution to a tricky problem? (Well, if you answered yes to any of these, please go and visit some soap opera or sitcom blog instead and never ask yourself why your life is soooo boring that you need to tune into life somewhere else….)

So you are still reading? 000080;">Glad to meet you. I do believe that most great inventions were made because we are a lazy kind of animal. The only thing that can get us out of our laziness is something stimulating to our brains. Everything else we try to get rid of. Usually we start out with the low hanging fruits and move on to more complex problems from there. E.g. inventing the wheel meant getting rid of the need to carry everything on our backs, using many people to transport a heavy item or it meant using fewer people or animals to do the same job (ancient form of cost cutting and let us not talk about the invention of sliced bread here). An example of a more complex problem would be managing a Web Portal with 1.2 Million transactions a day that is connected to three different ERP Systems using two different SOA approaches and so on…

Corporate Culture without Automation

Corporate Culture without Automation

Are we back to the point where you say “that cannot or should not be automated”? Yes it can, and yes it should be automated, because once you know how to handle the everyday hick-ups of even this complex IT environment you become very bored with it. Well you might say, if that really is automated then the job of administrating this stuff will be gone – so what? So were the jobs of the people who used to carry the bricks to the pyramids when they all of a sudden started using wheels and carts. And guess what…. Since then the population and average wealth of people has increased greatly. And one more interesting piece of information… The people who started using the wheels right away got much richer or at least had much more fun that those “traditionalists” who said carrying bricks is supposed to be done manually. Why is that? Well because management liked to get things done quicker and cheaper… Sound familiar? Well, management has much fancier titles today than “just” pharaoh.
Well back to serious business, I guess you get the point – progress in IT administration is on its way and stopping it is not an option – especially not in the current economic situation.
So what do all these great inventions that really took work off our backs do? They conserve knowledge collected by hard work and experience and apply and reapply them. 

So conserving knowledge on how complex IT environments are managed is what we set out to dowhen developing the arago Automation Engine (ff0000;">aAE). Looking back at our operations we have done quite well. We are now able to handle roughly 68% of all issues coming up during the day automatically and only deal with the interesting ones manually. This is also why our administrators actually have an interesting job compared to the ones who do the same thing over and over and over again – just to keep busy.

So what do we do? We take a model of the IT environment and collect all the tiny steps necessary to keep this environment up and running at all times. These tiny steps are then generalized, so they can be applied and reapplied as needed. The big invention behind this is the algorithm that actually analyzes incoming issues and finds out which of the tiny administrative steps need to be combined in order to resolve these issues. So automated IT operation is the conservation of IT experience and knowledge as well as a fairly smart machine (not quite as cool as the wheel, but getting there) which knows how and when to apply these experiences.

PS: Downloaded and actually licensed that cartoon from… Really love it.

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