Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Singing the Same Old Song

There are a few benefits to consolidating all your servers in a couple locations rather than having them spread out all over the world in each major center. Administration is centralised and only a couple of people have to spend their days babysitting them. Patching is centralised. And... that's about it.

A short list of consolidation suckage:
  • Loss of power kills all centers
  • Loss of communications kills all centers
  • Inability to work with the base hardware
  • Bureaucracy
  • Admin ego
The guy who used to be my partner of sorts prior to consolidation is now my nemesis. He plays the part well.

No longer are we forced to make hard images of full drive arrays to back up a crash-and-burn environment or base installation image. $MegaCorp likes server virtualisation and spends a lot of money for the licenses because we use the good virtual server software, not the crappy one. VMWare rocks my world.

Because of this system it's a lot easier to make all sorts of test images. We can automatically load up a base copy of, say, Windows 2003 (with or without $database), install $OurBigApp version, then get the admin to save that "pristine" copy so that no one else ever again has to install this particular configuration.


But what about operating system base images? That's where it gets tricky. Only the admins have access to get VMWare to point the "CD drive" to an ISO image in order to install a new OS. Rusty knows not of Red Hat or SuSE and with gentle prodding can be convinced to accept a new, latest-and-greatest ISO from, but he does know Windows. He knows that Vista is beta and that we don't support beta.

Windows XP was once beta, too, as was Windows 2003. We still loaded them up and tested throughout the beta period, not in any official capacity (that's a job for QA and Engineering) but to get a feel for it and find out where the pitfalls are. Playing with betas lets us find out where the hell Microsoft stuck all the menus after shuffling everything around again, allowing us to rewrite our boilerplate explanations about which menus to use to perform certain tasks.

We also find out if there's a way to tweak the system and rewrite scripts or configurations so that $OurBigApp will run on these new versions. This allows fuckwit customers who migrate immediately upon release of some new OS an unsupported but workable method and saves Engineering resources; QA can just test our fix and approve it, making it "supported".

But up until a couple years ago, the labs were local and loading a new OS only required people to be nice to me. By "nice" I mean "send me a mail telling me what you need and then let me finish what I'm in the middle of before pissing and moaning that your image isn't ready."

It's different now. It's all Rusty's baby. Rusty doesn't think we should be wasting his time and ours on unsupported beta software. Rusty refuses to load a Vista ISO image. He demands line manager approval. He demands team manager approval. He demands general management approval. He demands I show the software license despite our having a full MSDN worldwide subscription. There is no license. It's fucking beta software that Microsoft is offering to the entire fucking world which will expire in a few months!

We need to be ready for the eventual release of IE7 and Vista but Rusty doesn't care. He knows it's beta and he's in charge. The separation of labs from the general management organisation -- once such a a relief -- is now preventing me from preparation.

I'm not asking for Vista to be installed as a base OS; it's not a server OS anyway. I only want to install a fucking VMWare image. He doesn't need to do the actual configuration. He doesn't need to administer the software. He only has to click three buttons, a filename, and "OK". Nevertheless, he's fighting back.

I have to fight with Rusty.
To install basic software.
On a virtual machine.
Software we will soon have to support.

x-posted from HuSi where there's a poll.


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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
continue living under a roof and not the sky or a bus shelter, I add this:

The views expressed on this blog are my own and
do not necessarily reflect the views of $MegaCorp, even if every
single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.