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The KISS rule can be expanded as: Keep It Simple, Sysadmin ;-)

When taking about ESM large and expensive ESM packages like HP Operations Manager (formely HP OpenView), TivoliSun Management Center  are naturally come to mind. Among enterprise tools this page provides some info on Tivoli just because this is a system that the author has some experience with.

While commercial ESM packages do provide useful functionality they are usually too complex and underpowered to provide full spectrum of services. That are also not very flexible. Some like HP Operations Manager are better some like old IBM Tivoli are worse, but all are far from perfect. And while cost for large enterprise is less of an issue a good ESM cost is more then one year cost of  good system programmer or administrator with maintenance running around 20% of acquisition cost. So if your need can be served by adapting open source system for less money you can have a better product for less. The problem is that open source products are weaker them commercial and support also cost money. 

Among goodies that ESM should provide:

In the O'Reilly paper Top Five Open Source Packages for System Administrators they list the following (I do not like Cfengine):

Anyway  there are open source tools that can do the job just fine. especially in system monitoring area. Software distribution and configuration management are much more complex things. Here enterprise class solution like Tivoli Configuration manager might pay off more quickly.

The notion of more IT jobs moving offshore is likely to set off predictable controversy. But the truth is that systems administration is increasingly becoming a more remote, hands-off job, with servers already clustered in data centers, albeit here in the USA, far from the administrators who monitor them.

Many data centers today operate with their lights dimmed - darkened homes for servers that only get visited when their minders indicate that they need attention. And if the administrators and servers aren't in the same building, does it matter if they're on the same continent?

"The end-state for large corporations is to have a couple large data centers in the U.S., in Europe, and in Asia," with systems administrators distributed around the world, says James Kaplan, who is an IT infrastructure consultant at McKinsey  Kaplan thinks that, at most, 20 to 50 percent of systems administration work will remain in high-cost areas like the U.S. and Western Europe.

For those only casually familiar with the IT outsourcing trend, it's easy to assume that systems administration is part of the work already parceled out to offshore companies. But that's not the case. According to Kaplan's research, few offshore IT contracts involve systems administration work today.

A variety of factors have limited this type of offshoring. For one thing, maintenance of many systems used to require hooking up a keyboard and monitor to a server to diagnose problems. That could only be done in person, requiring skilled personnel close to the server. And monitoring a system remotely requires a rock-solid network connection, something that was hard to get overseas.

Furthermore, the trained personnel to run such operations simply didn't exist overseas until recently. India's technical colleges had focused on training graduates for software programming. But that, too, is changing: According to Kaplan, the number of trained systems administrators in low-cost markets like India tripled from 5,000 in 2003 to 15,000 in 2005.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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Old News ;-)

[Oct 12, 2011] AOL Creates Fully Automated Data Center

October 11, 2011 | Slashdot

miller60 writes with an except from a Data Center Knowledge article: "AOL has begun operations at a new data center that will be completely unmanned, with all monitoring and management being handled remotely. The new 'lights out' facility is part of a broader updating of AOL infrastructure that leverages virtualization and modular design to quickly deploy and manage server capacity. 'These changes have not been easy,' AOL's Mike Manos writes in a blog post about the new facility. 'It's always culturally tough being open to fundamentally changing business as usual.'" Mike Manos's weblog post provides a look into AOL's internal infrastructure. It's easy to forget that AOL had to tackle scaling to tens of thousands of servers over a decade before the term Cloud was even coined.

johnlcallaway (165670)

Wow ... we were doing this 10 years ago before virtual systems were commonplace, 'computers on a card' where just coming out. Data center was 90 miles away.

All monitoring and managing was done remotely. The only time we ever went to physical data center was if a physical piece of hardware had to be swapped out. Multiple IP addresses were configured per server so any single server one one tier could act as a fail over for another one on the same tier.

We used firewalls to automate failovers, hardware failures were too infrequent to spend money on other methods.

We could rebuild Sun servers in 10 minutes from saved images. All software updates were scripted and automated. A separate maintenance network was maintained. Logins were not allowed except on the maintenance network, and all ports where shutdown except for ssh.

A remote serial interface provided hard-console access to each machine if the networks to a system wasn't available.

rubycodez:

virtual systems were commonplace in the 1960s. But finally these bus-oriented microcomputers, and PC wintel type "servers" have gotten into it. Young 'uns.......

ebunga:

Eh, machines of that era required constant manual supervision, and uptime was measured in hours, not months or years. That doesn't negate the fact that many new tech fads are poor reimplementations of technology that died for very good reasons.

timeOday:

And other new tech fads are good reimplementations of ideas that didn't pan out in the past but are now feasible due to advances in technology. You really can't generalize without looking at specifics - "somebody tried that a long time ago and it wasn't worth it" doesn't necessarily prove anything.

rednip:

"somebody tried that a long time ago and it wasn't worth it" doesn't necessarily prove anything.

Unless there is some change in technology or technique, past failures are a good indicator of continued inability.

timeOday:

The tradeoff between centralized and decentralized computing is a perfect example of a situation where the technology is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. Whether it's better to have a mainframe, a cluster, a distributed cluster (cloud), or fully decentralized (peer-to-peer) varies from application to application and from year-to-year. None of those options can be ruled in or out by making generalizations from the year 2000, let alone the 1960's.

rickb928

Two points

[Jul 01, 2011] Alpha male e-mail fencing

Some things just speak for themselves. Below you see an edited chain of e-mails that just reek of testosterone.

The actors are VP1, VP2 and VP3 (plus the usual cc: audience). Guess which one is me.

The subject concerns all three, but they head up different divisions. Note the use of cc: and the time. In real life everyone could see the e-mail history.

From: VP1
To: Team of VP1
cc: VP2;VP3
Subject: Something that concerns us
Time: 11:20 pm

Team, I just want to inform you that we now have the funding to go ahead with XYZ. Please go ahead and execute as planned.

Regards,
VP1

Replies VP2 in a seemingly innocent tone:

From: VP2
To: VP1
cc: Team of VP1;VP3
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 11.30 pm

VP1,

Can you please share the details as you progress.

Thanks,
VP2

Enters VP3:

From: VP3
To: VP1
cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 11.45 pm

All,

I don't approve of this. How come I was not informed. It's the wrong approach and is basically a waste of money. It's not planned properly and I ask you to stop all further activities!!!

VP3 (From my Blackberry)

Replies VP1 patiently:

From: VP1
To: VP3
cc: VP2
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 12 pm

VP3,

I'm surprised to hear that you haven't heard of this. It was in the plan document that we reviewed two months ago and which you approved.

We're just executing that plan.

If you have further questions don't hesitate to call me.

Regards,
VP1

Replies VP3 going for the kill:

From: VP3
To: VP1
cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 12.15 pm

VP1,
it's not your call to decide on this. I have said that I don't approve and that's it. Stop further actions immediately.
VP3

Interacts VP2, making a reference to his earlier reply (50 minutes ago!), insinuating that VP1 hasn't delivered to his promise. And re-invents himself as a a player in the approval chain.

From: VP2
To: VP1, VP3
cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 12.17 pm

I haven't received the details I asked for yet. Please send so I can have an informed view. I'm not going to approve until I know more.

VP2

So now VP1 is caught in a snag. The other two VPs who approved a plan just two months ago are now aiming for his throat.

It continues for another couple of hours and it gets a lot nastier. I leave it up to you to do the analysis of the hidden agendas.

This is not an atypical event in my daily routine.

So who am I? Well, I'm not VP1.

MAT Monitoring and Administration Tool

MAT is an easy to use network enabled UNIX configuration and monitoring tool. It provides an integrated tool for many common system administration tasks, including Backups., and Replication It includes a warning system for potential system problems, and graphing of many common system parameters. Click here for more.
Coming soon in version 0.24 will be an embedded interpreter with it you will be able to monitor any parameter you can write a script to capture. It also will create the ability to have OS specific configuration tools.

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