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Sysadmins that can't script have a choice.

Scripting is becoming more and more important. With everything from computers to networks going virtual, installation is becoming an API call, not a "walk to a rack/desk/whatever and plug it in" call.

If you know how to script, you can automate those things.

In a few years I can't imagine a system administrator being able to keep their job and/or compete with others if they can't script.

There is an exception, of course: People that do desktop/laptop system administration and general in-office IT service. However those jobs are turning more and more into the equivalent of working at a mobile phone store: helping people is basic equipment problems and customer support. Those jobs pay less than half what a sysadmin normally gets paid.

So... do you want to change jobs to one that cuts your salary in half, or lose your job completely when someone that does know how to script replaces you?

It's your choice.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Interviewing

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8 Comments | Leave a comment

I don't see how a person could be a Unix/Linux admin for any amount of time and not know at least basic shell scripting. I was initially driven to learn out of pure frustration with tedious commands and it just spiraled from there.

I can't really speak to the Windows side of things but I imagine there are at least some parallels.

Powershell (and WMI), but GUI click-monkeys are much more common on the Windows side. I say that as a Windows admin.

I always encourage system administrators to call it what it is: Programming. And to avoid the term "scripting". It seems like a small thing but you never see anyone put "Scripter" on their business card. It is always "Programmer". We often hear people say "I'll *just* write a small script." Why minimize such a valuable and useful skill? It isn't doing our careers or our profession any good.

SRZ2ko - Absolutely on the Windows side; PowerShell has been a mature language since v2.0 IMHO, which shipped with Server 2008 R2. Why PowerShell?

Anyone on the Microsoft side of the house should already be familiar with or learning PowerShell, for the same reasons Tom posted. IMHO Anyone not doing this is doing themselves and their organization a disservice.

Cheers!

A lot of admins stay overwhelmed and can't justify the time it takes to learn PowerShell or improve their scripting skills.

My advice would be to think about those tasks that keep you up at night or are the most repetitive and figure out how much time your spending every month on them. Force yourself to spend half of that time one week to automate those tasks and you'll begin to free up more and more time proactive work. Track time and cost savings - you'll be glad you did.

I have a couple of SysAdmins and a TeamLeader with no scripting skills, and no apparent desire to learn. Drives me nuts.

Backin the day, I was always looking to script my way out of tedium. dos, bash, vbs, python...

I have too much to learn to worry about where Microsoft hides the settings with it's newest operating system. 2008 R2 was the last straw. I learnt Powershell (still learning) and just love it. Just using the PS command line is far easier than clicking all over the place. My scripts run and send me emails with the information nicely laid out. No more click click click check. I save myself 30 minutes every morning as I can do the same checks by reading my emails on the way in on the train.

And then there is comparing 5000 users in one domain with other one to see if the global address list needs updating. And then updating it. Trying doing that by clicking! Of course you can buy a tool for $15,000 if you have money to burn.

The point is scripting makes life easier and there is almost no task it can't do. If you can think of something you want to do there is probably a way to script it.

But it is just a skill and nothing more. You may be great at group policy, exchange or SCCM. Scripting is something to add to the toolbox. I don't believe it will make or break you if you have other useful skills. But it is fun...!

I seem to have a bit of a reputation in my new job simply because I do know how to program. I'm getting handed tasks to automate in Perl because few people here are able to write code.

But, I will also say the culture here is not conducive to most of the modern DevOps ideas. Even using a source code control system has not been embraced by the sysadmins.

As just a sysadmin, and a new employee, there's not much I can do to change the thinking here. One of the biggest lessons I learned from "The Goal" and "The Phoenix Project" is that this sort of change needs to be driven by someone at least three levels of management up. So, I keep my mouth shut and do what I can.

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