back to article Woo-hoo, UK ahead of Europe in this at least – enterprise IT automation

IBM's Red Hat has some good news for UK businesses, with a survey putting Blighty's businesses ahead of competitors in Germany, France, and Spain when it comes to enterprise-wide IT automation. The poll, which quizzed 1,200 IT leaders in large enterprises across the four countries, found that just over a quarter – 27 percent …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As usual, the C-Suite want to reduce body count, and the way THEY see it is to automate EVERYTHING.

    The problem is this. You NEED engineers who understand the tasks they are trying to automate. Automate engineers out of the equation, who is left to automate tasks on subsequent versions of, lets say, the O/S. Things change. Automation scripts don't automatically change with them. What worked on one version of an O/S may not have the same effect on the next. You just ran that blindly on 100 servers and screwed them up? Who's going to unpick that mess? Does your automation have a backout option? Are you solely relying on backup/restores to recover from such an event?

    Does automation have a place? Of course it does. It can greatly enhance productivity when used by the right people for the right job. But be prepared for a large amount of technical debt. Someone has to maintain and test these automation scripts. I really don't think you're going to be able to log a call with RedHat bitching that your automation script doesn't work - so be prepared to dig into "reasons why" on your own.

    I have had to conduct interviews, and one of the candidates, when asked how to patch a system, could only say that "they ran an automation script". Is that *really* the technical level you want to reduce your engineering support base to?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well said!

      I'm an automation coder by trade and the most important reason I and my colleague are able to do the job is our huge array of experience. Both done around 30 years in IT, we both comfortably know about 7-8 coding languages each, we've both been DBAs, mainframe, unix and Windows sysadmins. We've both work with actual hardware servers and storage. You cannot just link stuff by throwing a few JSON files between systems and then running some scripts, you need to fully understand the underlying tech you're linking, the ability to quickly get comfortable with almost any typical tech is the cornerstone to automating and supporting automated systems.

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Of course BOFHs want to do their own thing

    with quicklime and old carpets if needed. If heads of IT tell them what to do and said heads will be at the business end of a database normalization warning

    1. Bebu Silver badge

      Re: Of course BOFHs want to do their own thing

      《there are plenty of alternatives for enterprises eager to automate IT processes》

      An enterprise grade automatic, AI enhanced, robotic defenestrator would be top of many lists from the trenches.

      Given enough welly such a robot wouldn't actually require an existing window as it could "improvise" one in a convenient exterior wall using what it currently had in hand - usually a candidate defenestree.

      (Thinking HHGTTU - a psychopath Marvin on methamphetamines :)

      Failing that a retrenched Dalek or Cyberperson with retraining might serve.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Of course BOFHs want to do their own thing

        Giving the overall tenor of this apparently press release based article I'd guess that the goal is to sell software and/or services -- you don't need those expensive, annoying, wetware technies when you sign up for our wonderkind software (at $$$ per month, of course). Which if precedent is our guide, will be backed up by some underpaid workers in a call center somewhere cheap like India.

        Incidentally, I've never pictured Marvin as a "Robbie the Robot" type andriod. Big 'n klunky, at least in its original incarnation, maybe because its mechanical components were nowhere near as sophisticated as his brain, but generally more of a presence than a thing. (Although adding "GPP" to everyday items is becoming a reality, begging the question of whether you really want to have a conversation with your car, your kitchen appliances or even an elevator.)

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    And 36 percent of respondents opined that the top benefit of automating things was to free up the business for more creative thinking.

    And absolutely not to fire more people, of course.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Often you need to think up of creative reasons to fire them.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Enterprises today are asking where they can find the right people, how they can upskill and fire them"

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      My later experience with enterprises is that they're always looking for the one 'golden' employee that will make all the others redundant. This is why job advertisements invariably come with a huge laundry list of skills and experience, one that could never be satisfied by any normal person.

      (As somewhat of a 'golden person' myself in my particular field I know how futile this is firsthand -- its not just the rarity of what they seek but the inevitable disappointment that follows from finding that such a person only has one pair of hands.)(A lot of goldenness is merely gold plate,anyway.)

  5. theOtherJT Silver badge

    A further 40 percent felt overwhelmed by it all...

    ...and the remaining 60% just straight up didn't trust it.

    The vast majority of IT managers in the survey – 92 percent – said their teams would be or were reluctant to embrace change.

    That's because we've learned the hard way that the latest and greatest "new thing" is probably broken in a couple of dozen edge cases that the documentation doesn't cover, or the people who wrote it simply don't know about, or worse that they do know about but were hoping you wouldn't notice.

    The old aphorism about never adopting a .0 release of anything remains very true, but what with the "continuous release" approach so many people are taking with their software these days every release has become a .0 release and it's generally safer to remain a good distance behind the cutting edge because the next update absolutely will break something, and the new replacement product will be in some way feature incomplete compared to the old one until at least the 5th or 6th major update cycle.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A further 40 percent felt overwhelmed by it all...

      the latest and greatest "new thing" is probably broken in a couple of dozen edge cases

      I can't think of many latest and greatest new things in the last many years as good as this.

    2. damienblackburn

      Re: A further 40 percent felt overwhelmed by it all...

      >That's because we've learned the hard way that the latest and greatest "new thing" is probably broken in a couple of dozen edge cases that the documentation doesn't cover

      And that's further exacerbated by every tool being good at a specific job or task, which most managers and tech enthusiasts don't understand, instead shoehorning them into dozens of cases where they're middling to harmful.

      To use the old adage, you don't use a screwdriver to try and hammer in a nail. You'll malf up the nail, screwdriver, or both. You need to use the right tool for that job, in this case, a hammer (or better yet, the specific kind of hammer such as ball-peen, claw, carpentry, etc.).

      Tools like Docker and "the cloud" are fine tools for specific tasks, and if those tasks are partly or wholly what your business does, great, use them. I can only think of a few automation tools in the past few years that are universally good and should be used in all circumstances (barring, of course, outliers). Many have their niche, and when you start having to build a massive toolbox to get niches 1 through 100000, you lose out on a lot.

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