Thursday, July 24, 2014

Loading .Net Assemblys into Powershell

I have some functionality written in C# that I want to use in PowerShell. I compiled the code I wanted into a dll and copied it to my target system. Then I used this snip of code to load and use it:

$myObject = New-Object myNamespace.myClass

If my functions return objects, I can use them just like I would any other object in PowerShell. I just found this as another way to use the .Net Framework.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The compounding power of automation

I was recently reviewing some of my past automation and development projects. I took the time to calculate the man hours my projects saved the organization. Over the last 9 years it has added up to some substantial savings. I have directly saved 44,000+ man hours. Because those tasks were automated, the frequency of that work was increased. I estimate that over a 5 year window, my projects are doing the work of 215,000+ man hours.

I want to take a moment to point out this image below. I used the 5 year metric because of this chart.

I think every system administrator automates things all the time without thinking about it. I included several of those in my calculation.

Every week, we would make a copy of the production data onto a second server for reports. It would take me about an hour to create a one off backup, restore it to a second server, and run some post processing scripts. If I spent an hour each week over the last 9 years, it would have taken 468 hours of my time. No admin in their right mind is doing something like this by hand. I automated it and did something else more productive with those 468 hours.

The advantage of automating it was running it more often to give the business better access to the data. I made it a daily process and automated what would have been 2,340 man hours of time to do the same thing.

I have one project where I saved 4 seconds (80% improvement) off of 1.1 million actions. One automation script took my department out of the account provisioning process saving 270 hours over 3 years. I have another one that took someone 1 week to generate a set of report 4 times a year and I made the whole set process daily. There are 20+ projects where I saved the company time and made it more productive.

These savings are not imaginary. There are a few cases where staff resources were reassigned to other areas because of this automation. Part of the reason I got involved in many of these projects is because they took too much time and there had to be a better way. I am good at finding that better way.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Why do I have to wait for my computer to turn on? Can't it figure out when I need to use it?

One thing we have a lot of in IT is logs. We log everything and then some. I often look at this large collection of data and would like to do more with it. One set of our logs contains every time my users log on or off of a computer. I think I found a clever way to use that information.

We also have a lot of old computers. Sometimes they take longer than we want to start up. I love how fast Windows 8.1 handles things, but we don't have that installed everywhere. I know a lot of our users will turn the computer on first thing in the morning and go do other things while it starts. In some areas, the first person in starts everyone else's computer. Other people just never turn them off.

What if our computers knew that you started to use your computer at 8:00 every day. Why can't it just turn on at 7:45? Why can't we figure this out for every computer and just take care of it for our users? We can and here is how I did it.

I parse 6-8 weeks worth of logs that record every time someone gets logged on. I have user, computer, and time. For this, I don't care who the user is. I parse the log to figure out what the users computer usage pattern is. I assume a weekly cycle and that makes my results more accurate.

Then I have a script that runs all the time to check that list and wake up computers that will be used in the next 15 minutes. All of our computers are already configured for wake on Lan so that is how we start those computers.

I don't know if you have worked with Wake on Lan before, but it has it's own nuances that I will save for another post.