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Who's measuring the administrators? - A Suburbs Boy Living a Country Life [My Flickr Photos]
May 30th, 2009
03:26 am


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Who's measuring the administrators?
Tom Limoncelli

Image by arctanx.tk via Flickr

In a post on EverythingSysadminyesthattom offers some thoughts responding to the question:  “Does anyone have any recommendations for useful metrics to measure the performance of the systems team? (i.e. not the systems themselves)”
His answer said, in short: “Define a Service Level Agreement. [and measure against that]”  Then he went on to describe what a good Service Level Agreement looks like.  He included a closing thought--which he feels may be controversial--that an SLA's targets should be achievable, but not trivially easy to meet.  The problem with SLA’s that I’ve seen in practice, though, is that they still generally measure the “user-observable” outcomes, uptime being the most often cited.  I believe he’s on the right track when he says that certain measures—recovery time, for example—incentivize good tactical response at the expense of the routine, proactive and strategic.  I think, though, that measuring uptime is still too indirect.  Instead, measure and optimize around the routine, proactive and strategic behaviors; the uptime will follow.

prettypammie 's thesis proposes a framework to measure the behavior of system administrators, Her model uses definitions of system administration developed by the members of LOPSA and SAGE as a candidate basis for determining measurement areas. [This is in contrast with earlier attempts to measure system administration that often used poorly-fitting tools that were designed for improving software development].
It’s late—or rather early—so I won’t go much deeper into this. Suffice it to say that I’m hoping that Pam will be able to take her work out into the field soon. It’s obvious that our industry is thirsting for a usable way to measure and improve how we administer the systems our users depend upon.




































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