T-SQL Tuesday #110–Automation is relative


The theme for this week’s T-SQL Tuesday is “Automate all the things”. We are asked to talk about a project we automated or future plans to use automation. The problem, is… well, what counts as automation? I’m not sure, but I have a guess.

I’ve set up nightly ETL just with SQL agent and stored procedures. Is that automation? I mean it happens automatically, but it doesn’t *feel* like automation. Does it become automation if I use SSIS? Does it become automation if I add in BIML? How abstract does it have to be to count?

Are maintenance plans automation? Is it still automation if it’s built in to the product? I feel like anyone would laugh at me if I called them automation, but maybe if I used Ola’s scripts or dbatools, then it would count.

I think the problem is that automation is relative. Automation is whenever you make a process repeatable and it would normally be a manual process. So automation is relative to what you are doing manually today. Power Query could be automation if you are manually manipulating data in Excel every week.

Automation is really easy to accomplish the more inefficient you are! When I wrote about the biggest failure of my career, I wrote that I would have automated things more. What was that automation? Nightly ETL with stored procedures, maybe SSIS + BIML if I was smarter. If I was doing the project all over, it’d wouldn’t be called automation it would be called best practices!

So, what project would I definitely call automation that I have done? Well I can only think of one project, and it’s pretty silly. 4 years ago, I was using the Raspberry Pi as my main computer. Over the past few years I’ve tinkered with the Raspberry Pi and I’ve built some dumb BASH scripts to install and configure a new install of the OS.

It’s not fancy or impressive, but it makes my life easier and I’m happy with it. In the future I’d like to do something similar with windows so I can spin up a whole Hyper-v lab without any work.

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