Many visitors have already seen and downloaded some example solutions from our shiny new library, but I wanted to share a few words by way of a more formal announcement. So, the library is hereby official! Read on for some thoughts on why the library was created and what it aims to provide.
Why an Automation Library?
There are a number of resources on the web for IT pros to leverage when we’re trying to solve a problem related to creating scripts or orchestrating a process. Most often this process begins with a web search, and leads us to established sites like the TechNet Gallery and Script Center provided by Microsoft, or to repositories like GitHub, or often to a large number of blogs created by other IT pros around the world.
These resources have proven valuable, but they come with some important drawbacks. In my experience, I’ve often hoped to find a script or example solution to avoid reinventing the wheel on a problem that I knew had likely already been worked on before. Sometimes I’d find such examples, but often they were of limited value. Rather than discovering something I could readily put to use, I ended up with a different kind of work – instead of creating something from scratch, I was trying to decipher the work of somebody else and make it work for my purposes.
Unfortunately, most examples on the web tend to be:
- Minimally documented: you’re staring at a script that has a few paragraphs of description (maybe), but not enough information to quickly understand how it works or how to use it
- Varying quality: because most resources aren’t curated, the quality is inconsistent, with many examples not following good practices like having been thoroughly tested and implemented with proper error handling
- Lacking context: most of the systems and processes we deal with as IT pros involve a specific environment with a lot of moving parts. So it’s important to understand how or whether a script or runbook fits in our situation. Yet many examples we find are of the simplistic “hello world” variety, or make assumptions that aren’t well-explained
- Narrowly-focused: lots of examples come from experts in a particular application and aren’t necessarily created in a way that facilitates automation in the broader operations context. We might find a script for Exchange on one blog and a script for VMware on another, and still have to do the work to make the two integrate together
- Unsupported and “as-is”: in most cases, that random script or example you find on the web comes with a “good luck” disclaimer – you might be able to ask for help in a Q & A, but good luck getting a timely response or implementation help to keep your project moving
The Goal: Consistent Quality, Automation Focus
A more valuable resource is one that addresses these downsides. In the library, we aim to provide solutions which are:
- High quality: we want to be the first place you hope to find what you need, because it’s good stuff.
- Curated: content that is consistent, relevant, and valuable. No sifting through scattered blog posts.
- Well-documented: examples that are carefully explained to make it easy to quickly understand and implement, in appropriate formats including text, diagrams, and video.
- Searchable: the library is instantly and full-text searchable to quickly and reliably find what you’re looking for.
- Focused on automation: as we’ve argued, automation warrants increasing focus as we move toward modern IT operations. Implementing automation must become easier with more resources for tackling projects.
- Supported: No luck required. If you want results quickly that are adapted to your environment and needs, everything here is backed by automation expertise available on demand.
The types of content and examples will grow over time to provide what you most need to succeed in your projects. Initially, our emphasis is on several key automation technologies:
What would you like to see more of? What problems or technologies would you like help solving? Please let us know so we can shape future content. And if you get value from the content, please help spread the word!