Since the launching of the operation of the first computer around 1939, the whole focus of computing has been to make calculations and procedures far faster than humans could do them, and more importantly to make them automatic. The ultimate goal was to have computers take over routine functions that would free up humans to continue to innovate and better utilize this ever-growing power to enhance their lives and commerce. Nearly seventy years later, this is still the goal.
Like any far-flung objective, the goal of automation has been being achieved as a gradient process through time. Whole rooms full of bookkeepers, entire factory floors full of workers and millions of tons of paper have disappeared, replaced by sleek machines in air-conditioned closets. Computers themselves have also become unbelievably smaller and faster–in fact, as of 2004, a chip of silicon measuring 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) square held the same capacity as the ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, which in 1947 occupied a large room.
While entire complex processes such as star system mapping, commodity trading and aircraft operation have been fully automated, it’s interesting that numerous standard-fare computer tasks themselves have not. Items such as backups, anti-virus, defragmentation, and anti-spyware scans still require human intervention in the form of scheduling. As implementation of state-of-the-art programs has required a higher skill level, and as the number of available skilled IT personnel has dropped, how much time is actually available to schedule such tasks? The answer is, normally none, which means time put in over and above usual work hours by personnel whose time could be far better utilized.
At least in the case of defragmentation, a fully automated solution has finally arisen. It requires no scheduling, utilizing only idle resources whenever they are available. Systems can be kept fully defragmented and running at peak performance while IT personnel see to the more important matters they’re qualified for. Full and automatic defragmentation also greatly speed up those other tasks that still require scheduling–anti-spyware, backups, anti-virus and others.
Developers of other solutions still requiring scheduling should take note: it’s high time that programmers see to the fully automation of own routine tasks as they’ve seen it for so many others.