The maintenance of networks can be overwhelming and time-consuming. This is especially the case for larger networks. Network automation tools can help businesses to free up human resources, save money, and prevent human error.
There are a few system administration tasks that can be automated to improve your team’s productivity, efficiency, and precision. Some challenges may arise in the process of implementing these automations, but understanding these ahead of time will help avoid roadblocks later.
Tasks to Automate
Any manual tasks that a system administrator finds themselves repeating regularly should be automated to save time. Below are some of the top tasks that system administrators should consider automating.
There are only a few, relatively rare cases in which patches can’t be applied automatically. Aside from these, regular patches and updates for software can be automated to ensure all vulnerabilities are addressed in a timely manner, thus preserving network security.
Explore top patch management solutions on IT Business Edge: Best Patch Management Software Solutions
2. Password Resets
Instead of burdening your team with having to deal with password resets, it’s more efficient to use an automated portal to handle this. Not only does this automation allow IT staff to focus on bigger priorities, but it also ensures employees and customers are able to regain access to their accounts as quickly as possible.
To minimize the need for password resets, compare the top enterprise password managers on TechRepublic: 8 enterprise password managers and the companies that will love them
3. Freeing Up Server Disk Space
Instead of freeing up server disk space by manually clearing unnecessary files, an automated workflow can clean up the disk on a recurring schedule. Automating this task helps organizations operate at peak performance.
Wondering how to do this in Windows 11? Learn more on TechRepublic: How to reclaim hard drive space after upgrading to Windows 11
4. Disk Usage Scans
Managing disk usage can be tedious if managed manually. However, sysadmins can set disk space quotas and set up a workflow that scans for overages and automatically sends emails to users who have exceeded their quota.
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5. Restarting Services
Sometimes restarting services remotely is necessary for maintenance or troubleshooting. Sysadmins can take care of this with a workflow that automatically resets the relevant service when necessary.
Learn how to do this in Linux with TechRepublic’s guide: How to start, stop, and restart services in Linux
Reboots are often needed to keep systems running smoothly, but performing manual reboots can be disruptive and inconvenient. Instead, scheduling reboots to happen automatically during low activity periods eliminates the need for staff to work outside their normal schedule.
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7. Malware Scans
Like reboots, malware scans can be automated to run on a schedule that doesn’t use up valuable system resources when your team needs them the most. Some other prevention practices like scanning email attachments and other files for malware can also be automated to make those processes more efficient and practical as a company grows.
Explore the top malware protection solutions on CIO Insight: Best Malware Removal & Protection Software
8. Remote Shutdowns
Saving energy is good for the environment and a business’s operating budget. Some scripts exist to turn systems off after a certain amount of time has passed to ensure they aren’t draining power when idle.
System Administration Automation Tools
Several software vendors offer tools that can help system administrators automate some of their responsibilities. A few of the top system administration automation tools on the market include:
- Red Hat Ansible
- BMC TrueSight Automation for Networks
- Puppet Enterprise
- Cisco DNA Center
- Forward Enterprise
- NetBrain Enterprise Suite
- ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager
Compare these solutions and others on IT Business Edge: Top Automation Software for Managing Your IT Processes
Benefits of Automating System Administration Tasks
While there are some challenges that come with automating system administration tasks, there are many benefits too. These include time savings, improved business efficiency, and stronger security.
The amount of time saved by automating tasks frees up system administrators to focus on bigger priorities. Spending less time on tedious manual tasks also prevents mistakes that can happen when teams are spread too thin.
Improved Business Efficiency
Improved business efficiency is another result of automating system administration tasks. Automation workflows can accomplish many more tasks within a window of time than human administrators can, and usually with greater precision. This efficiency can have a tremendous impact on the business’s overall performance.
Consistency and vigilance are tremendously important to maintaining a strong security posture, but manual monitoring responsibilities can be a burden for IT staff. Automating system administration tasks helps ensure no security needs fall to the wayside or slip through the cracks entirely.
Challenges of System Administration Automation
There are some challenges to be aware of when considering network automation, including incompatibility with legacy systems and the complications of customization.
Incompatibility with Legacy Systems
It can be difficult to use automation to bridge the gap between new technologies and older, legacy systems. Organizations that have a large volume of these devices should consider whether trying to configure effective automations will be worth the time investment.
Learn how to upgrade your system on eWeek: Best Practices for Legacy System Upgrades
Complications of Customization
Most automations require customization to ensure they achieve the intended goal precisely. It may also take some trial and error to make sure each automation is effective. In some cases, these customizations may also create an additional variable to consider when troubleshooting a technical issue.