Archive for July, 2011

The Limoncelli Test: 32 Questions for Your Sysadmin Team

One of the challenges in System (and Net) administration as a discipline has been to define so-called “Best Practices”.  The problem is that our work exists to serve so many widely varied environments.  While other areas of expertise such accounting and project management have been able to create Standards and “Bodies of Knowledge“, this has been a challenge for us as a community.  Many things that are Best in a highly structured environment such as a regulated financial industry are 180 degrees from what is Best to support developers at a video game company, for example.  Granted, there are many commonalities, but no absolute Best Practices that will suit all environments.

If you want a good overview of the difficulties we face in creating Best Practices, I offer two items for discussion:  this post from SysAdmin1138, and the entire ITIL documentation set.

While defining Best Practices (for Everyone) appears to be a unicorn, defining “good practices” or measuring the capabilities and maturity of your sysadmin organization is a very tractable problem.

I’m a big fan of meaningful sysadmin metrics.  I don’t mean “number of tickets closed”, or “number of certifications completed” , but there are some meaningful ways to measure if your IT org is functioning, scalable and cost effective.

A great place to start is with The Limoncelli Test.  This is a quick self-assessment that will quickly give you some insight into how you’re doing, and some areas that might need attention.

Overall, the IT organization at my shop scores 23.  And now I know some areas that need attention.  Where does your org score?



An interview with Kyle Brandt of Server Fault

About a month ago, Server Fault partnered with LOPSA to give 40 Server Fault members free LOPSA memberships based on who had provided the best technical information during the month (as measured by Server Fault reputation).

Server Fault and LOPSA have a lot in common.  Both are communities of system administrators, and both are committed to advancing the state of the art in IT.  Both are committed to system administration as a whole, not just “Linux admins”, “Windows admins”, “network admins”, etc.

I’ve only been a Server Fault member for a little while, but I have already gotten great value from the community there. I’ve learned some technical things (my Windows-fu really sucks), and most importantly, I’ve learned more about what I would call “new school” system administration and new ways to work with users and their community.

Kyle Brandt is one of the administrators who works behind the scenes to keep Server Fault up and running smoothly, and he also writes about his experiences at the Server Fault Blog.

Server Fault will be having a one day conference for system administrators and operations people this October called Scalability.  Check out for details!

Kyle was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions about what it is like to manage such a large and busy system, that serves a community that can be rather demanding at times.

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obligatory Google+ post

It seems everyone has one.  I can’t really add much to all the tens of thousands of words that have been written, so I’ll just point you to the beginning:

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