October 03, 2015

18 cardinal rules of systems administration

It's not just knowing how to set up and maintain your servers and understanding how system commands work that makes you a good system administrator -- or even knowing how to fix things when something breaks down, how to monitor performance, how to manage backups, or how to craft superbly clever scripts. It's knowing these things andholding yourself to a set of cardinal rules that help to keep your systems running smoothly and your users happy. Many of these rules you've probably heard numerous times. Some you’ve probably learned the hard way (when you got seriously burned). These are practices that have proven themselves valuable through decades of systems administration and helped a lot of us keep our cool when the going got hot.

Data Never Sleeps 3.0

The amount of data that can be produced in a single minute is mind-numbing and shows no sign of slowing down. Our third infographic installment reveals astonishing leaps in digital consumption. Since 2013, the global internet population grew nearly 20% – from 2.4 billion to 3.2 billion people. Connectedness paves the way for innovation, and we see that happening every year with new technologies and services. Vine, for example, didn’t even exist when we released our first infographic. Today, over 1 million Vines are watched every minute, and top Viners earn tens of thousands of dollars per month in sponsorships – for making six-second videos. Welcome to 2015.

Infographic: Will Big Data Get Fans Off the Couch and Into the Stadium?

For decades, television networks have tried to create an at-home experience that’s on par with the stadium experience — and they’ve succeeded emphatically. In a 1998 ESPN poll, 54% of sports fans reported that they would rather be at the game than watch it at home; however, when that same poll was readministered in 2011 found that only 29% preferred being at the game. While this varies by sport to some degree, the conclusion is clear: people would rather watch a game in the comfort of their own climate-controlled homes, with easy access to the fridge and a clean bathroom, than experience the atmosphere of the stadium in person. Plus, sports fans today want the ability to watch multiple games at once;

Microsoft tries to clear the air on Windows 10 privacy furor

Given the long awareness of privacy in Redmond, then, the virulent attacks against Windows 10 this summer came as an unwelcome surprise. Critics have accused Windows 10 of spying on customers and collecting data for nefarious purposes, and those criticisms, despite a lack of supporting evidence, have persisted. The trouble for Microsoft is that its only communication on Windows 10 privacy features so far has been its privacy policy, a long document written by lawyers and designed to cover a broad range of legal situations across hundreds of jurisdictions worldwide. Today, the company published a series of detailed technical articles designed to explain how its actual practices align with its privacy policies across the board. The explanation starts with two clear principles:

Dear Data Scientists: It's Not All About You

Watching data scientists interact with regular business users reminds me of my own evolution from a “computer geek” into a “software engineer” (which was much cooler and definitely paid more). The tipping point though was when my background as a computer geek no longer qualified me to lord my knowledge over those less enlightened then myself. It was not that my experience became less valid, it simply became less relevant.  Technology has progressed far enough that making it easier to use and accessible to everyone no longer sacrifices cost or performance. In the case of e-mail servers, it’s actually now cheaper to outsource the whole thing in the cloud than to run your own. That started to make my experience seem really expensive, and in some cases, unnecessary.

What Will Alphabet Be When It Grows Up?

You could interpret the reorganization in purely financial terms—as a practical move meant to give Wall Street greater clarity about the profits of core Google and the investments being sunk into more speculative ventures such as X, which has developed a self-driving car and high-altitude balloons that deliver Internet access. Page acknowledged the validity of this view in his announcement of Alphabet, noting that the shake-up would make his company “cleaner and more accountable.” Beyond the financial outlook, though, a more interesting question arises: will Alphabet be able to demonstrate a productive new path for industrial innovation?

Professionalism, Certification and Fallacies Around Best Practice

The absence of methodology in any activity is a sure sign of people who quite literally ‘do not know what they are doing’ (or why they are doing what they are doing) – either as individuals or as a group. The absence of methodology is the active signifier of a dearth or deficit of Know-How in any type of enterprise or at any level in an organisation. I’ll explain why I hold this view in a moment, but first I just want to observe a notable exception: there are places at the forefronts of science and technology, including management and social sciences, where literally nobody knows what they are doing – where everything is an experiment or doing something for the first time by anyone anywhere.

Mobile device management has become alphabet soup

BYOD isn't the only acronym in the game, especially since employees are pushing back. According to a recent survey conducted by Bitglass, 57 percent of employees – and 38 percent of IT professionals – do not participate in their company's BYOD program ... being able to wipe an employee's phone doesn't always keep your company's data safe. Not only can a good hacker prevent wiping a phone by putting it into airplane mode, but your employee might not even report the device is missing. A 2014 survey conducted by ZixCorp found that while 59 percent of employees would immediately report a lost device to an employer if the employer had the capability to wipe the phone, 12 percent would wait a few days, 3 percent would wait a week and 5 percent would wait over a week.

Inside EMC's 10-year IT infrastructure transformation

"EMC as a company has undergone several transformations over the course of its life as a technology company, and we certainly expect that continuous transformation is within our DNA," he said. Peirce said his team has an obligation and responsibility to the rest of the company to be an IT service provider to allow the company to enter a competitive state, and be poised to innovate and capitalise on opportunities faster than competitors. In fact, this year marks exactly 10 years since the company started overhauling its own infrastructure, which was rolled out in three stages: infrastructure first, followed by the operating model, and most recently the company's data and applications.

Q&A with Tom Roden and Ben Williams on Improving Retrospectives

For most teams that adopted agile practices, reflecting and looking for improvements every two to four weeks was a revolutionary shift. For many this has now become standard practice, so there is an argument for keeping that same regular cadence, no matter whether you drop the review and planning processes that sandwiched it in Scrum. It can provide a regular heartbeat that many team members enjoy and punctuates the continuous flow of work. There is no need to keep retrospectives to a fixed cadence though. The closer to the occurrence you review the events, the fresher they are in the mind. So why wait up to two weeks to deal with them. Continuous improvement can mean just that, inspect and adapt on the fly by holding retrospectives based on the trigger of specific types of events.

Quote for the day:

"When people can see which direction the leaders are going in it becomes easier to motivate them." --Lakshmi Mittal