Hey infrastructure guy, you should learn Python!

This posting is ~4 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

I’m not a developer. I’m an infrastructure guy. All I ever needed was to write some scripts. Therefore, I never needed more than DOS batches, BASH/ CSH/ KSH, Visual Basic Script and nowadays PowerShell. So why should I learn another programming language?

One to rule them all?

I don’t think that there is a single programming language that is perfect for all use cases. The spread and acceptance of a language shows a positive correlation with the number of available frameworks, tools and libraries. That’s why I love the Microsoft PowerShell. Nearly all vendors offer a PowerShell module for their products (think about VMware PowerCLI, Rubrik, Veeam, DataCore and much more). The downside: The PowerShell code has to run on a Windows box. I think the time of writing DOS batches is over. UNIX shell scripts are still awesome, but focused on UNIX.

Different problems require different tools. I think it’s better to know a few, general-purpose tools well, as every conceivable special tool. Don’t get me wrong: PowerShell is awesome powerful! It’s quite easy to learn and you will have quick success.

Why Python?

Python is easy to learn (I can confirm this, at least for what I’ve seen). Python was developed from scratch by Guido van Rossum in the early 1990s. Python is an interpreted and dynamic programming language, which supports multiple paradigms, like the object-oriented or the functional programming. Python features a dynamic type system and automatic memory management. It uses only 35 keywords, what makes it easy to lern. It’s underlying philosophy is The Zen of Python.

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.

These rules lead to code with a high legibility, and it is possible to solve problems with fewer lines of code. Python is highly extensible. It comes with a large standard library and you can choose from 72.000 packages, that are available using the official 3rd party repository.

For me, as an infrastructure guy, the VMware vSphere API Python Bindings, the 3PAR Python client or the module for the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise OmniSwitch RESTful API are reasons enough to start with Python. It’s the extensibility and platform independence of Python, what makes it so interesting. Like PowerShell, Python is an awesome language to automate things.

First steps with Python

Currently, the stabled releases are 2.7 and 3.5. I recommend to start with the 3.5 release. You can get the latest release from python.org. They offer packages for Windows, MacOS X and Linux/ UNIX. Python comes with an IDE called IDLE (Integrated Development and Learning Environment). Make sure that you take a look into the official documentation! If you want something more comfortable, try JetBrain PyCharm. JetBrains offer a free community edition for Windows, MacOS X and Linux. But it’s not the worst idea to start with IDLE. I use both IDEs, IDLE and PyCharm.

Where can you get help? YouTube is full of videos about Python. If you have a Pluralsight subscription, checkout the courses on Pluralsight. There are many good books out there, as well as some good howtos. Just use Google. It depends on what type of learner you are.

Learn the basics and try to strengthen them during a small project. Buy a Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi and Python are the biggest friends. If you are focused on VMware vSphere, take a closer look at the VMware vSphere API Python Bindings. Create yourself a project to learn.

I just started to learn Python, but I think that this wasn’t the worst idea in my life.

Patrick Terlisten
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3 thoughts on “Hey infrastructure guy, you should learn Python!

  1. Sebastian

    Can you give additional example for use case Python for vSphere or some other SDDC products ? do you have maybe some experiance with this ? I thinking to about python to learning.


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