Hopefully the title got your attention. Of course it could have read, “Real Linux Sysadmins use Cobbler and Puppet…”, or any number of comparable statements and products. The point being, there is a gradual evolution in the way we approach tasks and if we don’t move with them we marginalize ourselves to the point where we are so unproductive we cease to be of use.
A few years ago I was doing a lot of Linux installations and I got sick of running around with CDs, so started doing network installations to save time. I’ve been doing loads of installs on VMs at home recently, so I started doing PXE Network Installations, which saved me even more time. As a result of the article I wrote about that, Frits Hoogland pointed me in the direction of Cobbler, which makes PXE installations real easy (once you get to grips with it). I’m not a sysadmin, so why do I care? Even when I’m installing and running a handful of VMs at home I can see productivity gains by using some of these tools. Imagine the impact in a data-center!
So back to Grid Control. Does anyone remember the days when you kept a “tail -f” on your alert log? At one site I used to have a CDE workspace on an X station just running tails. Then the number of instances got too big, so I used to scan through the alert logs each day to look for issues. The next step was to use shell scripts to check for errors and mail me. This was a pain at one site where I was using Solaris, HP-UX and Windows, which meant I needed three solutions. Then the Oracle 9i Enterprise Manager with the Management Server came into my life. All of a sudden it could manage my alert logs and I could assume everything was fine ( ) unless I got a notification email. This feature alone sold me on the 9i management server.
Back then, being a DBA and admitting using Enterprise Manager was a little like announcing to the world you were into cross dressing. Time has moved on, the product name has changed and so has its functionality, but essentially it’s still doing the same thing, which is reducing the effort needed to manage databases (and other things). The difference is that rather than managing 40 instances, teams are now managing thousands of instances.
Of course, none of this is new. I guess it’s just been brought into focus by a few things that have happened to me recently, like the PXE/Cobbler thing, the recent demise of my Grid Control VM at home and the constant talk of cloud computing and SaaS etc.
Specialists and performance consultants have the time to obsess over minute detail. The day-to-day DBAs and sysadmins have to churn through work at a pace, with reliable and reproducible results. Failing to embrace tools, whatever they are, to aid this is career suicide.