I want to hear your story! How did you start in Automation?


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Hi Everyone, 


We have seen the post by @Rick Vanover two months ago where he showed his first steps into Automation:

And now I am asking your story, how did you start your journey into Automation? What tools did you use, what resources did you use, what mistakes did you make, etc.

 

NOTE: This does not have to be Veeam related, but would be preferred. 

 

If you haven't started your journey jet, what is holding you back? What resources / information are you missing?

 

Thanks,

 

Maurice


9 comments

Userlevel 7
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My journey into automation started a while ago. I started to create a scripting system to deploy changes to multiple machines where the machines checked in once a day to check if they had “patches” missing and they would be applied automagically.

In the years between, I have used things like Kickstart scripts; silent installations of OSses etc, Puppet to deploy changes and a lot of scripts. A lot of those got migrated into Ansible.

Back in 2018, I started using Chocolatey after my blind co-worker mentioned it. I took a deep-dive and started to create my own packages. Took over some packages that where no longer maintained.

In 2019 I created the Chocolatey packages for VBR. There was a long open RFP (Request For Package) to support VBR 9.0. I started them with VBR 9.5 update 3, I think.

 

Currently I prefer to use vscode to do my changes. The software has a lot of plugins that allows you to customize the software to your needs.

A lot of my automation is in PowerShell, I code in vscode and run this in a separate PowerShell window. This makes it easy to start a “clean” instance when you need to.

Most of my experience comes from searching on the web, but I have used code from others as references as well

Userlevel 7
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This is going to be a great topic to hear people’s stories.  I will compose mine and then post back here. 😁

Userlevel 7
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Long story but a long long time ago, in a place far far away, I had to administer a Nortel Meridian PBX through a dial up modem.

Apart from administering the system I wanted to make sure that I could strategically distract my clueless authoritarian boss at various random times of the day with phone calls.

I can’t remember exactly how I did it now, but I managed to automate some procedure that would switch extensions or just generate random phoney calls. End of day Friday was always a high value target since our boss liked to try and make us stay late. If you started to collect your things at 5PM he would start to cough and make disagreeable faces in order to try and intimidate the weaker among us.

 

He was not very technical and had a huge insecurity about this so he was always a stickler for proper phone etiquette and would always declare as if he was some kind of war hero “I am available 24/7”.. to which I would add under my breath, “available to be completely useless” . Whenever his phone ran he would run to it and begin his performance “3401 Johnson here, How can I help you?”. The Managing Partner of the Firm was not good with phones, computers, elevators, kettles or anything technical so at times when calling it would take him some time to figure out how to unmute or respond. So my boss would never dare hang up unless the call went on for too long. I honestly can’t remember if there was a call id display on those phones but I must have automated that somehow as well because my system worked perfectly until I got another job. 

 

Out of the box thinking can save your Friday evenings!

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +3

I joined this group…..I kid…..sort of.

Probably my first taste of doing things the easy way was back in 2002/2003 when I was working on my CCNA course, being able to write a configuration and copy and paste it into a switch or router (or firewall, etc).  This is a very rudimentary form.

Later on, I started playing with batch files for things like logon scripts, some basic utilities such as restating services, clearing print queue’s, etc.

At my last job, before they REALLY dived into actual automation and creating an actual Dev/Ops team using Ansible/Puppet/Chef, we did some scripting via Powershell that would allow us to create a quick answer file for building a new VM.  That then consisted of three scripts that ran in succession after deploying a VM from template that would configure the machine (check that services were running without issue, disable services, change the virtual DVD drive to Z:, etc, and then install some applications (AV, management tools, etc), and then perform a validation that the VM config matched the answer file and file away the configuration and a copy of the validation checks to a specific location that could be referenced as a build sheet.  This automation took our average VM build time from 4 hours (it was less in most cases, but that was always the billed amount) to less than an hour, usually about a half hour of waiting on the VM to do it’s thing after creating the answer file and kicking off the deployment.

At my current position, I’ve had some scripting for AD changes in prep for an Office 365 migration, deploying applications in conjunction with PDQ Deploy, etc.  Nothing really major here, but some light automation as needed when things need to be done on a slightly larger scale.  

There’s a TON of untapped potential for making deployments easier, such as Deploying Veeam, maybe creating backup jobs, copy jobs, etc.  The PowerCLI is immensely useful here, but I haven’t had a change to really sit down and figure out how to to do these sorts of things.  However, it’s been helpful that there are so many community members creating their automation scripts and posting them on Git.  I need to learn Git better, but that would be an excellent place for me to being posting what little scripts I use as well.

Userlevel 7
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In the years between, I have used things like Kickstart scripts; 

 

 

Glad to see I’m not the only one...it’s amazing how popular Kixstart was, and I still come across it in some environments.  We abandoned it eventually at my first real IT job and changed to batch files and vbscripting.  I almost mentioned it when I noted my beginning with batch files for logon scripting.

 

 

Currently I prefer to use vscode to do my changes. The software has a lot of plugins that allows you to customize the software to your needs.

A lot of my automation is in PowerShell, I code in vscode and run this in a separate PowerShell window. This makes it easy to start a “clean” instance when you need to.

 

I know nothing about vscode.  As that to the list to investigate I guess.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

 

In the years between, I have used things like Kickstart scripts; 

 

 

Glad to see I’m not the only one...it’s amazing how popular Kixstart was, and I still come across it in some environments.  We abandoned it eventually at my first real IT job and changed to batch files and vbscripting.  I almost mentioned it when I noted my beginning with batch files for logon scripting.

 

 

Currently I prefer to use vscode to do my changes. The software has a lot of plugins that allows you to customize the software to your needs.

A lot of my automation is in PowerShell, I code in vscode and run this in a separate PowerShell window. This makes it easy to start a “clean” instance when you need to.

 

I know nothing about vscode.  As that to the list to investigate I guess.

 

Kixstart, that brings back memories. I used that too!

 

I used to (volunteer) at an environment with Windows NT 3.51 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 machines. I used Kixstart to copy a crafted version of progman.ini depending on the User group(s) you where in. 

 

I was talking about Kickstart scripts as in building your CentOS machines. You could include a whole lot of scripting to do post-install tasks

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Ah yes...kickstart missed me on that one, because I don’t spend much time in Linux….duplicate name, different spelling, not confusing at all.  :-)

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In my “first” professional live I was a system management engineer and did software distribution for a big bank (with NVDM/2 if anyone knows this).

Because of this I did a lot of scripting for various software and system installations.

I kept this after this and tried to script many tasks in my daily business to automate them.

 

In the last time I try to build some skill and experience with Ansible and Terraform.

Userlevel 7
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I remember I was building a VMware cluster “BACK IN THE DAY” on VI3, I used the scripting on the ESXi host to get the complex networking right. Blew my boss’s mind away! I took an error-prone task and had it done in no time, while my colleagues were taking the whole day to so the same thing!

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