the windows solution has grown very organically, my job there is to bring some monitoring and automation to the environment. I have previously worked on some of the world's largest I.T. projects where automation was a prerequisite to anything being installed, where the grunt work was put into actually making the application capable of being deployed and managed without ever touching the box it was deployed on. A solution where fixes are integrated into deployment process and then the servers are re-deployed.
my current position is a slightly smaller scale than that, although still a couple of thousand windows servers, and it has come as quite a shock to see so much work being done by hand.
as an example there is currently a new application that is being prepared for deployment that resides on a bank of blade servers a dozen or so boxes we have an application specialist (from the vendor) coming in to configure these boxes who will then leave us with a working system on a pile of boxes that we neither have in depth knowledge of or any real idea of how to rebuild if required. (DR is based on taking backups) my personal view is that these boxes should have been built and configured by one of our guys with the assistance of the vendor, and fully documented along the way (the argument against that was time and cost)
so my question to you fine bunch of folk is, how much automation do you expect in your environment, and to what level does that automation go, do you simply automate the basics or do you expect to, as I do, to put a server in a rack and never touch it again. Also how much reliance do you place with vendor specialists in an organisation with hundred of applications it is difficult to have somebody who is proficient in them all, should we just say well the vendor manages that application."