Worth Reading: Manual Work Is a Bug

This blog post was initially sent to the subscribers of my SDN and Network Automation mailing list. Subscribe here.

Tom Limoncelli wrote a great article about starting an automation journey from sysadmin perspective. Not surprisingly, his recommendations aren’t that far off from what I’m telling networking engineers in my network automation presentations, Network Automation 101 webinar, and introductory part of Building Network Automation Solutions online course:

  • Document what you’re doing. I usually add “try to simplify what you’re doing so you won’t be automating the existing mess
  • Create automation equivalents for your manual steps (I call this part “easy wins” or “picking the low-hanging fruit”)
  • Create automation out of automated steps – at this point you should start thinking about data models, system architecture, and testing and deployment procedures
  • Self-service portals – once you’ve automated the manual steps, integrate your tool with larger systems and give it a self-service portal. In networking world, you’d have to start thinking about IPAM/CMDB integration.
  • Discipline – once you start the automation journey, never turn back. Even if you have to do one-offs automate them – because one-offs usually happen more than once.

As expected, the main automation benefit Tom points out isn’t cost reduction or similar nonsense but:

  • Consistency
  • Democratization of work – an interesting way of saying “because you automated things, more people can work on the problem using your tools”
  • Accelerating future work.

Even if you don’t care about automation I’d strongly recommend you read the whole article, and if you need help getting something similar done in your network check out the Building Network Automation Solutions online course – hundreds of networking engineers found it extremely helpful with many of them creating inspiring production-grade solutions.


  1. Automate yourself out of the job, you have better things to do!
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