Below is an excerpt from an interview with a disenfranchised systems administrator. All identifies have been kept anonymous to protect the innocent:
“I come from a long line of sysadmins. My father was a sysadmin, as was his father before him. I have apprenticed at the feet of some of the greatest sysadmins American BankCorp has ever seen.
Some say that I just build servers. Well, I respectfully disagree. Did Stadivarius just make violins? Did Henry Winston just make jewelry? Did Louis Cartier just make watches? Nay, these men made art, first and foremost.
I too consider myself an artist and a craftsman of server building. With each click of a mouse, I create a work of art. With every option I select, every module I install, every registry tweak I make, every configuration file I edit, I create a unique, one of a kind masterpiece.
I have taken years to develop and refine my craft, culminating in what I consider to be my greatest achievement: Web Server Master Series. Created in late 2009, this was a collection of servers I built and configured for our web farm. Just like beautiful snowflakes swirling in the winter’s breath, no two were exactly alike, but all were quite similar and whitish in color.
But alas, I have not come here today to talk about my craft, but about a grave threat to it: DevOps.
Yes, I consider the DevOps movement to be an affront to my craft. How could I not? How could I look at their smug build scripts and their repeatable processes and not see it for what it is: a crass commercialization of server creation!
I ask you this: what good is a process without a soul? What good is efficiency without beauty? What good is building servers without the human touch?
Sure, you might get your precious “predictability”, but at what cost? I mean, can you even still remember that rush of intrigue and anticipation you get when your application refuses to work on two of the twelve servers it was deployed to? The thrill of the hunt as you figure out exactly which configuration settings are different and, of those, which one is causing the problem? The sweet taste of relief that you get after hours upon hours of debugging finally narrowed it down to a rogue registry setting?
Of course you don’t. You and I and all of us are all being robbed of these precious memories and we are being robbed of an art form as ancient as computers themselves.
Something must be done about this and we must act posthaste. Otherwise, the noble craft of a sysadmin will one day vanish in a hazy cloud of Cloud based deployments.”