Tuesday, February 28, 2012


A few days ago I was asked what one ought do to get a job as a system admin.

I no longer hire systems admins

However, I wrote the following rant ^H^H^H^H advice to a very talented CS major currently taking finals at a high quality university... I've not seen a response from them yet.

Question: Was I out of line?

From:  James Cuff 
Date:  Feb 21 (8 days ago)


So the new trend these days is all about what they are calling
"devops".  The days of the lone systems admin (to me at least) are
pretty much dead.  This is where you have a win - if you can code you
are already 100% more employable than a regular old systems admin

These days if you can't code and stand up automatic systems and then 
come to me for a job, I'll never even give you a start.  Sorry.

If you look at technology like Puppet, Chef, and the new
eucalyptus/openstack stuff this is where the world is heading.  

Given all the big boys are on "scale out", knowing how to stand up an
openstack environment running SGE or say OpenLava that is all
automatically provisioned using say puppet would be a very marketable
thing these days...

Look at those big boys, they are moving to commodity equipment, the
systems are basically just rip and replace.  

But that software? - Oh that is money!

FB/google/MS/Apple etc. they are all about the scale out.  

An individual system in an orchestrated cloud has become the way of 
what systems integrators used to do back in the day... 

Michael Dell killed off all those sys integration boys, and devops 
is equally going to kill off the sysadm...

If you wanted a project, you could not go far wrong designing a small
cluster (5 or 6 vm's) and getting them all orchestrated with
openstack.  Other hot topics are parallel file systems - Hadoop,
Lustre, gluster, ceph are a few that are big - some posix, some
object based.  These are the new scale out challenges for sure!

Anyway, here are some links to whet your appetite!


Hope this helps!


dr. james cuff, director of research computing & chief technology
architect harvard university | faculty of arts and sciences
slightly edited for style and content

Update from Philip Durbin!

(c) 2018 James Cuff