I am a techie who likes hiking and backpacking as a hobby and to keep me grounded while working in the Cloud, hence my slogan. I have a long term unrealized goal of automating and training myself out of a job. My quest for unemployment started in my early career working hard to realize the perfection of the lazy sysadmin. I simultaneously attempted TKT ( Total Knowledge Transfer ) as a Linux/Open Source advocate and teacher to the technical and becoming-technical people around me. Scripts to simplify my job and training others to do that simpler job will surely lead my quickly to unemployment.

But my job was still too complex to script and teach my way to being sacked. And so my search for better and faster ways to obsolescence lead me first to Virtualization and then to the Cloud. Work paradigms like DevOps and IT automation tools like SaltStack or Ansible in a cloud environment meant the employment guarantee provided by being responsible for physical hardware was eliminated. I am no longer needed to make late night trips to the datacenter in the middle of a snow-storm to deal with air conditioner emergencies. And when I learned that this same IT automation could literally created servers and make them quickly ready for production with a single command, my hopes of being on the chopping block soared.

Unfortunately it was still not to be. The rise of Micro-services Architecture meant that formerly stable Infrastructure As Code had to be updated and committed much more frequently and rapidly changing application dependencies strained IaC tooling’s ability to keep up. With a proliferating number of services that all needed to communicate I was facing more difficult IT Automation coding to ensure uptime and reliability. My unemployment goal is founded on being able to make things simple and more automated. But they are moving in the wrong direction. But this did not deter me and I searched for a solution to get the momentum going back in the simplicity direction. I found Service Discovery soon thereafter. With this the production environments are able to dynamically react to change without my interaction. That is yet another employment enhancer that I have been able to remove.

The testing environments are still an anchor of my employment. My companies developers are always wanting to test their new features in a server environment, which means frequently setting up multi-server testing environments mirroring production, updating those environments, then tearing them down when the testing is complete. And despite my best efforts at training their knowledge/ability is still not quite sufficient in most cases to make these complex changes. After a short period of sadness and despair at decades of more employment, i remembered an old slogan … there’s an app for that and I went hunting for the app to solve my problems. That hunt quickly lead to the crowning technology: ChatOps. If I can not successfully replace myself by transferring all knowledge and expertise to other carbon based life forms, maybe I can split that transfer between humans and a friendly neighborhood chatbot. My first half year’s effort has met with huge success, particularly in relation to providing developers with motivation through a constant supply of canine images ( pug me ). The abilities of Hubot ( our chat bot) have grown so that developers can now build and destroy those same complex multi server testing environments with single chat commands. As this tool becomes integrated into their development workflow, I am seeing their need for help from an operations focused teammate like me diminish drastically. This is my best hope yet of a bright future in obsolescence and being put out to pasture.

What will the next challenge be on my quest? I’m not sure. But based on my experience it can not be long before yet another change in the technical world changes everything and leaves me indispensable again.

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