10 System Administrator Tasks Ripe for Automation Page 2
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6. File Transfers
Using command-line scripting power (Windows, UNIX and Linux), you can perform automated file transfers between hosts. There's no need to do them interactively. If you're clever in your timing, you can set up elaborate automated schemes that not only transfer your files but also unzip, change permissions, move, copy and insert information into a database. Use the secure versions of your file transfer utilities (e.g., SSH, SFTP, SCP) to ensure that anyone snooping doesn't grab an important password from your network stream.
7. Code Promotion
How you promote code from test to staging and into production can have a profound effect on marketing campaigns and other time-specific events. Moving the code from one environment to another manually is cumbersome, error-prone and requires coordination between developers and sys admins. Enable your developers to promote code from one environment to another using an automated code deployment system. Some sys admins use RSYNC for automated code deployment and it's safe to use if coupled with SSH keys to secure the transfers between hosts.
8. High-Level Administration
You can perform those housekeeping duties, service restarts and maintenance notices through automation. Set up your scripts to fire during low-use hours for clearing temporary file dumps, restarting your favorite services and sending out any maintenance or downtime notices via email. You'll find that automating these tasks takes some of the pressure off of you to remember which day it is and which list of things you need to do. There's no reason to keep a calendar of these; let the system handle them.
Yes, you can automate system restarts. Sitting around waiting for systems to bounce back to life is a waste of time. Automate the process during low-use hours. Don't worry, your automated monitoring system will notify you if the system doesn't come back online within a reasonable amount of time.
10. Malware Scans
You can scan for spyware, malware, viruses and other nasties using automated processes. Using scripts, you can map or mount drives, scan your filesystems, disconnect when finished with the scan, scrape the scan log for positive hits, and send the results to a database or in an email. You don't need to manually perform these scans when your system is perfectly happy and suited to do so on its own.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which was published in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.
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