Problems / Opportunities

I’m always looking for something new to learn how to do, or a technique to improve something I’m already doing.  We can’t sign up for new opportunities if we’re spending all of our time, and more importantly, energy reinventing the wheel, or redoing the same things over and over.  In our company, as likely there is in yours, there’s -lots- of new initiatives, plenty of changes, and new good things going on.  If we’re stuck spinning DVDs or hand-coding kickstart configs, or figuring out the latest arguments to patch utilities (and documenting it somewhere so our team mates can mis-type them themselves), we’re not likely to have much time to worry about what comes next, we’ll be stuck staring at the trees, rather than thinking about how to get out of this particular forest. 



While VMware’s ESX, the various J2EE application servers, have been around in one form or another for years, they get more, not fewer configuration items.  While we’re bright people (hey, you’re reading this, aren’t you?), it can be tough to stay ahead of configurations with multiple people touching servers and applications.  The net result of policies and inventories, documented only on paper or a spreadsheet, literally out of date the day they’re printed, is that we’re never in compliance, our inventories aren’t current.  When we know an audit will be due, we scramble, all hands on deck, and work until the machines are near enough compliant to pass.  And that next day…



The greatest loss in this situation is not the compliance, or the gap of compliance, the hundred servers, the hundred -different- servers in a given pool, or our aging inventory spreadsheet.  The greatest loss is the project work, the new revenue our company can’t go after, all because we’re spending our prime troubleshooting and problem-solving energy… on policies we’ve long ago defined, but didn’t have an effective way to survey, collect, and enforce.  What project were you working on this week that slipped to next week because of yet another production outage?  What could you have been doing instead?

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