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Thoughts and Ideas About Large Sites

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OpenStack and the Lone Sysadmin

I think you might be surprised at the number of sysadmin who try and give up installing OpenStack if my experience can be used as a guide. I personally feel that my point of view gets discounted. "Who would be foolish enough to try to build a small cloud on their own. They should buy it from a provider or hire consultants."

I have been struggling with trying to install OpenStack for the last year as an individual. Not devstack or packstack but a real install on real hardware using both CentOS and Fedora from rpms not source. And the process is amazingly hard.

I have been doing OpenSource installation and configuration for over 25 years. inews, X-windows, sendmail, C development environments, perl from source in the old days. Pretty much everything else from packages for the last 15 years. I have a lot of networking experience. IP routing, IP tables, network debugging. So I don't think I am un-knowledgeable about Linux administration. And to find out that Nova Core does not recommend neutron because it is not ready just push me over the edge. And while my out burst may have been out of place, I think I represent an important section of the OpenStack user community. I am not part of a large corporation with an OpenStack group. I am one person trying to make it work. I think I represent a typical sysadmin at a small to mid size web company or software development firm. The devs and manager have heard about OpenStack and may have played with devstack. And they ask the sysadmin to setup a small OpenStack test bed. So the sysadmin has a small pile of servers, finds the repos and starts reading the documentation. And wham, everything breaks when they try building the cluster using CLI tools.

Now, I have not been doing this as a job. I have not been doing this full time. I have also been doing a slew of other sysadmin tasks like setting up boot servers, kickstart, puppet, bind, etc. to allow me to do bare metal installs. I will also admit I have not been reaching out to the IRC channels which would have aided me. But my experience with OpenStack as a sysadmin has been amazingly painful. What I feel puts me at odds with the people working on training is that they are too far removed from sysadmins just getting started with OpenStack. I think they have forgotten how hard it is to get started. I also feel that their answer is to move an employee from operator to admin to developer to architect over a couple of years. This is fine for a large corporation with an operations division. But it does not meet the needs of the competent sysadmin working in a small company with one or two sysadmins. I think the lone sysadmin is an important segment of the OpenStack community.

I am hoping to put my money (time) where my mouth is. I attended the boot camp which really was not a boot camp but an off-site for the documentation team. Had I known this, I might not have attended. I have started rereading the documentation and have already found an error and filed a bug that I intend to fix using what I learned. I am also going to reinstall my 5 node stack following the new install guide. I am hoping I become annoying by filing lots of doc bugs. I really want to make the experience of new sysadmins trying to install OpenStack be successful. I think I have an important perspective that the documentation team needs. An independent new user sysadmin.

Sorry for running on so long, but this issue has stirred up my passion and frustration. Writing allows me to organize my thoughts so I am not just ranting.

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