Although the specifics of being a system administrator may change from
platform to platform, there are underlying themes that do not. These
themes make up the philosophy of system administration.
The following sections explore each theme in more detail.
Most system administrators are outnumbered — either by their
users, their systems, or both. In many cases, automation is the only
way to keep up. In general, anything done more than once should be
examined as a possible candidate for automation.
Here are some commonly automated tasks:
Free disk space checking and reporting
System performance data collection
User account maintenance (creation, deletion, etc.)
Business-specific functions (pushing new data to a Web server,
running monthly/quarterly/yearly reports, etc.)
This list is by no means complete; the functions automated by system
administrators are only limited by an administrator's willingness to
write the necessary scripts. In this case, being lazy (and making the
computer do more of the mundane work) is actually a good thing.
Automation also gives users the extra benefit of greater
predictability and consistency of service.
Keep in mind that if you have a task that should be automated, it
is likely that you are not the first system administrator to have that
need. Here is where the benefits of open source software really shine
— you may be able to leverage someone else's work to automate
the manual procedure that is currently eating up your time. So always
make sure you search the Web before writing anything more complex than
a small Perl script.