UPDATE: Membership is now open at all levels - free preview, $6/monthly, $60/annual. Click to sign up.
I wrote this post to explain my philosophy and approach to IT - some of the basic principles that underline every topic you will learn as a member - and most importantly why you should become a member of this site.
First of all, I'm a big believer in simplicity - keeping solutions as simple as possible, keeping code as simple as possible, keeping security as simple as possible. The solo admin's role has always been best described as DevOps even before the term was popular, and many of the solutions we discuss will follow the basic pattern: design -> build -> install -> maintain. We will frequently be writing code to assist us in these tasks, especially in those instances where we need to roll our own solutions. This is nothing to shy away from! When we're finished with a given task we will be intimately familiar with the solution we've implemented. However, since the buck stops with us, we don't have the luxury of building things and passing them off to someone else; by keeping our solutions as simple and elegant as possible we save ourselves headaches and time later on. As a member, you will have a direct line to ask questions about existing topics, propose new topics, and to get help with your real-world implementations.
Going hand in hand with simplicity, we will also examine the security implications of every decision we make. Security MUST be addressed during the design phase - not the build phase. The bottom line is this - we are the first, middle, and last line of defense when it comes to our systems and networks. We face the same issues as the large corporations and IT departments so we will implement similar solutions - sized (and priced!) for the smaller scale of the environments we're working in. I've worked in various information security roles for several large corporations in the financial and medical industries and as a member you can share the knowledge I've gained and apply it to your own environment.
Finally, since we're working in smaller companies, we need to keep an eye on our budget. My focus when working with companies of any size, but particularly when working as a solo admin or consulting for smaller companies, was to identify solutions that offered the best ROI or were the best options for the long term. For instance, at one organization I followed in the footsteps of an individual who purchased used desktop computers and servers to save a few dollars. As a result, nearly every computer in the company was having performance issues, hardware issues, or both, with no thought about standardizing hardware or software builds. There were so many computer issues that it was fairly easy to convince my boss that not only was my time being wasted but user productivity was suffering as well. One of my first projects was to identify a new standard hardware model to replace the used desktops and develop a standard software build. With a standard hardware and software build, a new machine can be imaged and deployed in a matter of hours with very minimal input on my part, freeing me to work on other things. Keeping an eye on the budget doesn't mean that we're not going to spend ANY money - IT is an overhead expense just like any other resource for the business - and in fact sometimes the most cost effective solution may require a larger up-front investment. As a member of the blog, I will help educate you how to identify cost-effective solutions that increase productivity and keep overhead to a minimum - not just this month or this quarter, but for the long term.
My best hope for this site is to start a community of individuals who are willing to help others on the site and contribute feedback and ideas. One of my goals is a twice-monthly interactive video session on topics chosen by the members where everyone can participate, ask questions, and share knowledge. Additionally, members will be able to request future topics and shape the direction of the blog over time. Members will also have a direct line to ask me questions or to ask for help with the topics we've covered; again, I'd love to build a community where there are several experienced "go-to" individuals willing to help other members who may be new to the field or who may not have experience in a particular area. My career has been spent as a generalist in IT and it has served me very well. When I was hired for a previous role officially called DevOps it was second nature because that's what I'd been doing all along. I want to share my knowledge with others as so many along the way in my career shared with me.
Bottom line, I'm looking for the early site members to help me shape what the site will become in the long run. I want to keep a general DevOps emphasis but I'd like the specific topics and technologies that I cover to be the most popular topics among the members; I believe that's a unique experience that you won't find many other places.
Membership will be open soon! To be notified when the membership link is available, send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org