The term “routine” has a bad reputation. How many times have you seen advertisements for products that promise to “get you out of that old routine” or refer to a “boring routine?” Boring is bad, right?
No! As a system administrator I crave boredom. I want an entire week when things happen on schedule, projects get done on time, software installs without trouble, and documentation gives me the right answer. “Give me just one boring day!” I shout when a big server crashes or a customer comes to me with an impossible but urgent request.
What I wouldn’t give for an entire boring month!
There are technical means to improve the situation. We can make things more boring (in a good way!) through long-term planning and suitable infrastructure that makes things run smoother. For example: automating new machine installation so that every host starts out the same, controlling and enforcing updates so all hosts stay in sync, keeping security infrastructure in place so that it is ubiquitous and less burdensome, and so on. There are books about those topics already—I happen to prefer The Practice of System and Network Administration (Addison Wesley).
I don’t want to make system administration 100 percent boring—I don’t think that’s actually possible. As long as there are new software packages to try or new hardware platforms to explore, there will always be plenty of fun in system administration.
There will also be a certain amount of chaos. System administration deals with the ...