Provided you care for your job, but you are lazy, you will want to look for the most efficient ways of doing repetitive tasks, because why would you work when you can instead be enjoying this wonderful blog post!
The main reason to automate IT operational tasks is to make the mundane day-to-day tasks of running an I.T. shop into a consistent, repeatable and predictable process which can be diagnosed, audited and reported on very quickly. By automating these tasks, you can then get focused on exciting project work within your organization to start implementing some new technology, training to better your skills, and/or investigate your department for other operational efficiencies to implement.
There are several methods of automation that you can consider, such as:
The above list is not exhaustive, but an example of what’s available. The last item, Development of a Custom Solution, is a last resort. While not highly recommended, it is an option for the creative administrator. However, you do not want to make your environment so unique that it becomes unsupportable. Chances are whatever task you are looking to accomplish can be done quite effectively with any of the other suggested methods.
Windows 7 & Windows 2008 R2 support many scripting technologies out of the box.
In addition, as an operator you have the option of installing a third party scripting language interpreter.
The new Task Scheduler introduced in Windows Vista and available in Windows 7 has been improved over previous generations. Besides containing the same functionality as previous versions, the new Task Scheduler includes the ability to fire off jobs based on events on the Operating System.
More information around the Task Scheduler can be found here.
Group Policy allows an administrator to centrally manage common settings on Windows desktop and server operating systems to maintain consistency in your enterprise. Common settings such as security policies, computer and user settings, as well as application configurations for Firewall with Advanced Configuration and AppLocker make Group Policy invaluable to the System Administrator.
The Group Policy Documentation Survival Guide can be found here.
In today’s enterprise, desktop management can be a daunting task without some sort of systems management software. For the purpose of this example I’ll focus in on System Center Configuration Manager R3 (a.k.a. ConfigMgr), but there are third party solutions that have similar functionality, albeit typically not as robust as ConfigMgr for Microsoft Windows-based infrastructures.
ConfigMgr today is much more sophisticated than previous versions and it handles much more than software distribution. Tasks such as software and hardware inventory, operating system deployment, PXE boot services, patch management and centralized power management configurations are now possible with ConfigMgr R3. Additionally, a great set of reporting tools are included with ConfigMgr to allow you to gauge your environment accurately.
More information about ConfigMgr can be found here.
Proactive monitoring can be the system administrator’s greatest asset. If an issue is re-occurring, but the fix is simply to restart the service, your monitoring solution can be set to trigger a service restart based on an event, or performance threshold that is set.
Reactive tasks can now be automated to become proactive tasks. System Center Operations Manager R2 (OpsMgr) provides this functionality.
More information on OpsMgr R2 can be found here.