In this segment of 'what do you do, sysadmin?' I'll cover the area of high availability, building infrastructure that can withstand failure, and preparing for worst case disasters.
In the last article of this sysadmin series, I talked about the importance of monitoring as an insight into infrastructure and application behaviour - something that is hard to overstate. But what good is monitoring if you don't understand what it's telling you? That's where troubleshooting comes in.
Here's a scenario...
At 4:30AM every Thursday (sysadmin's time), a server's site suddenly spikes in load, because a full backup takes place at such a time, which is not an off-peak time in terms of traffic due to international visitors.
A bunch of users visiting a site on that server receive a flurry of 502 errors trying to load some content - a form of application timeout due to the taxing effect on the CPU related to the backup process.
This article is third in a series of long, windy answers to the inevitable 'but what exactly do you do as a sysadmin consultant?' question. I started writing this because it's hard to give a sufficient short answer.
Continuing on from Part One, where I discuss the far-ranging benefits of continuous deployment, today I'll cover off another large part of the 'what do I do as a sysadmin' question: that being, config management.
I hear this question a lot - both from non-technical folk, as well as agencies who know they are 'missing something' in their approach to deploying, securing and scaling applications, but aren't sure if a sysadmin will solve it. 'What is it that you (a sysadmin) actually does (e.g the day-to-day, or in general)?'
As a consultant, I have a wide range of clients that differ greatly in their appreciation / approach to hiring sysadmins to help them with their infrastructure.
A common situation I find myself in is being approached by a potential client interested in my services, who at the same time, expresses doubts or wariness about whether they want my services or not!
Here are some of the myths/concerns I hear, or am asked to explain/defend my service to nervous new clients:
I think we're too small a company to need/afford sysadmin services.