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5 Ways to be a Great Linux Server Admin - page 2

Automated Configuration Management

  • October 16, 2009
  • By Charlie Schluting

Doing-it-Wrong Indicators

Some clear indicators you are doing it wrong may be helpful. If you:

  1. SSH into servers after installing them, to configure services ...
  2. SSH in a for-loop to many servers at once and perform administration ...
  3. login to Web servers to find out which virtual host sites are running on ...
  4. manually add new servers (and their services) to your monitoring ...
  5. make changes to a server without documenting the change and automating it for future reinstalls ...

...you are doing it wrong.

Manage more than 50-100 servers, and this quickly becomes obvious. Scaling IT systems either breeds high levels of automation to make the infrastructure manageable, or it ends up breeding a huge mess.

Configuration management, then, is really about IT infrastructure management. ITIL preaches a mythical CMDB, or Configuration Management DataBase. In the pay-for-crap world of software vendors, this usually means someone will sell you something that inventories all software installed on every server, and generates a pretty report. You can say you are ITIL-compliant (in this area, at least), but you still have no handle on what the infrastructure is really doing, nor do you have automation and the ability to recreate systems from scratch. The technology exists, but it is a complex problem and requires a bit of work to get right. Once right, though, you can scale to more than 1,000 servers with little extra work.


When he's not writing for Enterprise Networking Planet or riding his motorcycle, Charlie Schluting works as the VP of Strategic Alliances at the US Division of LINBIT, the creators of DRBD. He also operates OmniTraining.net, and recently finished Network Ninja, a must-read for every network engineer.

Article courtesy of Enterprise Networking Planet

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