Ad Hoc Change Tools

Most of the cost of desktop ownership is labor [gartner], and using ad hoc change tools increases entropy in an infrastructure, requiring proportionally increased labor. If the increased labor is applied using ad hoc tools, this increases entropy further, and so on — it’s a positive-feedback cycle. Carry on like this for a short time and all of your machines will soon be unique even if they started out identical. This makes development, deployment, and maintenance of applications and administrative code extremely difficult (and expensive).

Ad hoc tools are easy enough to get started with, but they’ll chew you up over time. They work great for small one-off problems, but they’re entirely too tempting to use for everything, and by the time you notice, the frog’s already boiled. That having been said, it was time for me to update my old looped-ssh script with something more robust. So I’m installing dsh on my administrative server, and defining groups mostly corresponding to my Nagios hostgroups. Eventually, I may dig into some scripting that will generate Nagios configurations and dsh configurations from one common dataset.

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