The UK has been well represented this summer at the Adelaide SQL Server User Group, with presentations from Chris Testa-O'Neill (isn't that the right link? Maybe try this one) and Martin Cairney. The slides are available here and here.
I thought I'd particularly mention Martin's, and how it's relevant to this month's T-SQL Tuesday.
Martin spoke about Policy-Based Management and the Enterprise Policy Management Framework – something which is remarkably under-used, and yet which can really impact your ability to look after environments. If you have policies set up, then you can easily test each of your SQL instances to see if they are still satisfying a set of policies as defined.
Automation (the topic of this month's T-SQL Tuesday) should mean that your life is made easier, thereby enabling to you to do more. It shouldn't remove the human element, but should remove (most of) the human errors. People still need to manage the situation, and work out what needs to be done, etc. We haven't reached a point where computers can replace people, but they are very good at replace the mundaneness and monotony of our jobs. They've made our lives more interesting (although many would rightly argue that they have also made our lives more complex) by letting us focus on the stuff that changes.
Martin named his talk Put Your Feet Up, which nicely expresses the fact that managing systems shouldn't be about running around checking things all the time. It must be about having systems in place which tell you when things aren't going well. It's never quite as simple as being able to actually put your feet up, but certainly no system should require constant attention.
It's definitely a policy we at LobsterPot adhere to, whether it's an alert to let us know that an ETL package has run successfully, or a script that generates some code for a report.
If things can be automated, it reduces the chance of error, reduces the repetitive nature of work, and in general, keeps both consultants and clients much happier.