OT: It's arrived!

Paul Makepeace paulm at paulm.com
Mon Nov 5 15:12:00 GMT 2007

On Nov 5, 2007 6:20 AM, Lyle - CosmicPerl.com <perl at cosmicperl.com> wrote:
> Paul Makepeace wrote:
> > On Nov 5, 2007 3:18 AM, Matt S Trout <dbix-class at trout.me.uk> wrote:
> >
> >> On Mon, Nov 05, 2007 at 01:42:07AM +0000, Lyle - CosmicPerl.com wrote:
> >>
> >> If you're hosting commercially on this box, please for ghod's sake hire
> >> a sysadmin.
> >>
> >> It's become extremely obvious that you aren't one, so you either need to
> >>
> >
> > Possibly also to your clients, http://www.google.com/search?q=lyle+cosmicperl
> >
> > That has to be worrying, on both sides.
> >
> >
> My clients host with me for the second to none software support.

I'm not sure how that bears on the discussion of sysadmin here. Hinted
by others, it suggests the software support might take a hit while you
get up to speed being a hosting provider.

I dunno, you seem pretty set on this so have a go and see how you get
on. It never hurts to learn at least a bit about other areas in your

Not to mention rushing to the datacenter at 3am and spending five
hours fumbling with boot disks and broken NICs in a noisy datacenter
with its aircon blasting down your neck and freezing your hands to the
point you can barely hold a screwdriver while your phone's going off
every 20mins from distressed clients that you can't even hear properly
and trying to remember if its sda3's or sda5's partition table you're
about to rewrite builds character.

> >> start paying one or you need to tell your hosting customers they should
> >> move elsewhere if they care about their websites.
> >>
> >> (note: I'm not a sysadmin either - guess what Shadowcat's first hire was ...)
> >>
> I've had a customer contact me today because their hosting provider has
> moved them to a new site, and not copied over any of the file
> permissions. And this is a reasonably popular host in the UK! I've
> worked with an awful lot of hosts from all different countries, believe
> me, in comparison my service and knowledge is better than most.

I think it'd be a mistake to use the shabby service of others as a
benchmark, if only so as to not get complacent. Complacency has
absolutely no place in being a sysadmin: the downside is too big.

How software differs from sysadmin is quite subtle in their impact and
consequences (I'm excepting embedded development and mission critical
since they're such a tiny proportion). Software personal development
is reasonably linear: you learn some more stuff, you get to be able to
do more things with it (OK, it might exhibit some n^2 network effect
but whatever). The same goes with sysadmin: you learn some more tools
and tricks and you get to be able to do more things.

The problem is that sysadmin has a strong non-linear aspect to it.
It's possible to steadily grow a business or enterprise accumulating
trust, skills, customers, assets and the like, piece by piece. However
in one moment of misjudgement, lack of attention, stupidity, or just
pure Fate, something can go terribly wrong, and a big chunk of what
you've done can vanish. (Remarkably like no-limit poker.) A typical
example of this is un-backed up data or a failed restore. Whoops, game

I work as a sysadmin in a company with an undisclosed but enormous
number of computers and every so often some bizarre failure mode
occurs. So bizarre you think "wow, I've seen it all now". Then
something else happens. And something yet else happens. The intricacy
and strangeness of failure and component interaction can be truly
staggering. At the other end of the complexity spectrum highly
skilled, experienced, and competent people can exhibit moments of
apparent madness or miscalculation and do stuff so wrong you--and
they--can barely imagine it. Eventually the only conclusion any
reasonable person can come up with is "OK, we need this in triplicate
locally, mirrored internationally, backed up elsewhere, and on tape."

Not to put you off or anything ;-)


> > Don't become one either; it's a career gravity well...
> >
> > P
> >
> >
> >> --
> >>       Matt S Trout       Need help with your Catalyst or DBIx::Class project?
> >>    Technical Director                    http://www.shadowcat.co.uk/catalyst/
> >>  Shadowcat Systems Ltd.  Want a managed development or deployment platform?
> >> http://chainsawblues.vox.com/            http://www.shadowcat.co.uk/servers/
> >>
> >>
> >
> >

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