When a SysAdmin implements a DevOps approach to an environment, there are many things that need to be considered. Not least of which is developing a strong line of communication between the developer and the SysAdmin. Occasionally, and more frequently as time goes on, I’m finding that these people are often one and the same, as coders or scripters are spreading their talents into the administrator’s roles. But these are discreet skills, and the value of the scripter will augment the skills and value of the system administrator.
Process is a huge component of the SysAdmin's job. The ordering process, billing process, build process, delivery process. How many of those tasks could be automated? How easily could these functions be translated to other tasks that are conscripted, and could therefore be scripted?
The wonderful book, The Phoenix Project, is a great example of this. It outlines how an IT manager leverages the powers of organization, and develops a process that helps facilitate the recovery of a formerly financially strapped industry leader.
In the book, obvious communications issues initially bred the perception that IT was falling behind in its requisite tasks. Systems, trouble tickets, and other tasks were not being delivered to the requestor in any sort of accurate time frame. As the main character analyzed both the perceptions and realities of these things falling short, he began questioning various stakeholders in the company. People who were directly affected, and those outside his realm, were solicited for advice. He also evaluated processes within the various groups of the organization, found out what worked and why, then used his successes and failures to help him to establish assets worth leveraging. In some cases, those assets were skills, individuals, and personalities that helped him streamline his functions within the organization. Gradually, he was able to skillfully handle the problems that arose, and fix problems that had been established long before.
A number of key takeaways from the character's experiences in this series of actions illustrate what I was trying to outline. For example, the willingness to question yourself and your allies and adversaries in a given situation, with the goal of making things better. Sometimes it takes being critical in the workplace, which includes scrutinizing your successes and failures, may be the best way to fix issues and achieve overall success.
What does your process look like for any given set of tasks? How logical are they? Can they be eased, smoothed, or facilitated faster? Evaluating the number of hours it takes to perform certain tasks, and then critically evaluating them, could potentially improve metrics and processes. As I see it, the scriptability of some of these tasks allows us to shave off precious hours, improve customer perception, and gain credibility again. Being willing to embrace this new paradigm offers countless benefits.
It all begins with communication. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself to be seen as not knowing the answer, but always be willing to seek one. We can learn from anyone, and by including others in our evaluation, we can also be perceived as humble, collaborative, and productive.