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It is unfortunate that many companies need the same sysadmin jobs carried out

27 January 2014 21:50

It is unfortunate that I've been exposed to several companies that all need the same kind of problems solving, again and again:

  • Imaging systems. Quickly.
  • Configuring MySQL & Postgres replication and fail-over.
  • Configuring local users.
  • Solving the problem of distributing usernames/passwords to 500+ client-systems within a team.

A lot of these are solved problems, yet they seem to keep cropping up. I guess the fact I've done some of these things more than once means I'm the local-expert, so that's why I get asked. But still..

There was a time when I thought my Debian Administration site would help solve these kind of problems; that writing documentation would encourage people to do things properly. Certainly it has helped me, and some other people are greatful, but it didn't do enough to help.

I'm not sure if the problem is that my documentation is a little ideosyncratic, isn't good enough, or isn't reaching the right kind of people. I suspect a combination of that and scale - You can't walk somebody though the idea of setting up a ten-node database-cluster, they need to suffer, they need to break things, they need to sweat on Christmas Day, at 5AM, as everything goes to hell. Then the next time they'll do it properly.

I'd love to take the time to write out recipes in Salt, Ansible, Puppet, Chef, CFengine, Slaughter, whatever, and support them.

Remote. Automated. System management.

Throw in monitoring of metrics, security fixes, and reporting and there's probably a valuable service there.

It probably can't happen though, for three main reasons:

  • The people that need it don't know they need it. They're fighting fires, they know it is important and they will fix things "soon", but other work takes priority.
  • The people that are tempted will baulk at the idea of unknown code from an external source running on their system(s).
  • Companies managed by one sysadmin will wonder why they need more help, because "everything is working, right?".

I did recently write some policies for setting up a two-node Master-Slave MySQL setup, with reporting, monitoring, and custom SMS-based alerts. I guess I'm wondering if I can be cheeky and sell the same work twice. ;)