Last week I was interviewed by Koen Vervloesem, for the Dutch “WebWereld” ICT news-site. The interview was about an important subject: automation in the datacenter. Many admins still manage an ever growing number of (virtual) servers by hand, or with a bare minimum of tools.

I’ve always wondered why most IT departments were the least automated of all in the organization. Server sprawl has become a serious problem for datacenter admins; the system/admin ratio is rising rapidly. And you still see lots of admins managing all these systems individually. This is where policy-based configuration management tools can be a huge help. If used properly, they increase quality of service and consistency across your datacenter.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Treat Unix/Linux configuration files as if they were source code.
  2. Behave like a developer; use a version control system like Subversion, Git or even RCS.
  3. Invest in getting to know configuration management tools like Cfengine, Puppet or Chef (whichever works for you).

You can read his write-up of the interview here (in Dutch, of course). (gone)