Friday, April 6, 2012

Automate everything... within reason

I have a confession: I'm lazy. But I'm also a big fan of Larry Wall (creator of perl) who is often quoted as saying "laziness is a virtue". So when I read an article on SQL Server Central today, I thought it would either affirm my world view or show me a new trick. To my surprise, I didn't agree with it. For me, automation comes down to return on investment (ROI). For instance, why would I automate a task that done the "manual way" happens once a year, takes me 30 seconds to do, anyone in my field would know how and when to do it, and would take me 10 hours to automate and test? Aside from exercising skills that I might not otherwise use (which, by the way, I think is important), the ROI for automating that process is longer than my career. The math is simple: there are 1200 30-second intervals in 10 hours. So, the payoff (in terms of time) only happens on the 1201st and subsequent executions. Of course, that discounts any changes to the process and system(s) involved. My point is, figure out what you're getting out of your automation efforts. Otherwise, you run the risk of committing what Larry calls "false laziness".

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