Part 2 – How does DevOps help the SysAdmin in their job?

In part one, I outlined the differentiations between a traditional architecture and a development oriented one. We’ve seen that these foundational and fundamental differences have specific design approaches that really can significantly impact the goals of a team, and the approaches of the sysadmin to support them. But, what we haven’t addressed are some of the prerequisites and design considerations necessary to facilitate that.

Let me note that DevOps as a concept began with the operations team creating tools within newer scripting and programming languages all centered around the assisting of the facilities and sysadmin groups to support the needs of the new IT. Essentially, the question was: “What kinds of applications do we in the infrastructural teams need to better support the it needs as a whole. Many years ago, I had the great pleasure to work on a team with the great Nick Weaver ( @LynxBat ). Nick had an incredible facility to imagine tools that would do just this. For example, if you’ve a requirement to replicate an object from one data center to another, which could be a simply Push/Get routine, Nick would tell you that you’re doing it wrong. He’d create a little application which would be customized to accomplish these tasks, verify completion, and probably give you a piece of animation while it was taking place to make you feel like you’re actually doing something. Meanwhile, it was Nick’s application, his scripting, that was doing all the heavy lifting.

I’ll never underestimate, nor appreciate the role of the developer more than the elegance with which Nick was able to achieve these things. I’ve never pushed myself to develop code. Probably, this is a major shortfall in my infrastructural career. But boy howdy, do I appreciate the elegance of well written code. As a result, I’ve always leaned on the abilities of my peers who have the skills in coding to create the applications that I’ve needed to do my job better.

When a sysadmin performs all of their tasks manually, no matter how strong the attention to detail, often, mistakes get made. But when the tools are tested, and validated, running them should be the same across the board. If some new piece of the infrastructure element must be included, then of course, the code must know about it, but still, the concept remains.

So, in the modern, Cloud Based, or even Cloud Native worlds, we need these tools to keep ourselves on-top of all the tasks that truly do need to be accomplished. The more that we can automate, the more efficient we can be. This means everything from deploying new virtual machines, provisioning storage, loading applications, orchestration of the deployment of applications toward cloud based infrastructures (Either hybrid, on premises, or even public cloud based). In many cases, these framework types of orchestration applications didn’t exist. To be able to actively create the tools that would ensure successful deployments has become mission critical.

To be sure, entirely new pieces of software are often created that are now solving these problems as they arise, and many of these are simple to use, but whether you buy something off the shelf, or write it yourself, the goals are the same. Help the poor sysadmin to do the job they want to do as seamlessly, and efficiently as possible.

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