Keeping Things Simple Is Harder Than You Think

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Keeping Things Simple Is Harder Than You Think. Brad Hannah Manager, Systems and Storage ITServices - Queens University. April 28 th 2014. hannahb@queensu.ca @ whoknewitwas. Overview. Complexity vs. Simplicity Real World Scenarios Scenario 1: Exadata - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Keeping Things Simple Is Harder Than You ThinkBrad Hannah Manager, Systems and StorageITServices - Queens UniversityApril 28th 2014hannahb@queensu.ca@whoknewitwasOverviewComplexity vs. SimplicityReal World ScenariosScenario 1: ExadataScenario 2: Automating System ConfigurationsWhats Next for ITServices InfrastructureStrategies to Control Complexity

Brief DisclaimerExperiences are my own and do not necessary reflect the opinions of others.My 2013 Philosophy - KISSKeep It Simple Stupid!4ProductionDisaster RecoveryIts Just This Easy!BAM!Simplicity vs. ComplexityIncreased difficulty to maintain and upgradeCauses confusionMore places to look for performance issuesCustomizableCreative solutionsAdapting to existing processesIncreased ChoiceComplexity can result in:Simplicity can result in:Easier upgrades and maintenance Faster trainingReduced feature setStifled creativityLack of customizationSimple for Whom?

Just because you dont WANT complexity doesnt mean you dont NEED itJust because you ACCEPT complexity doesnt mean you actually NEED it

Ask first who is capable of the taking on the complexity.

Dont we all know someone who is LOVES the complexity, who wants to make everything they do highly technical and extensible? - This is a common sentiment on my team7Real WorldScenariosScenario 1: Improving Database PerformanceRequirements:Upgrade PeopleSoft hardware and application software

Solve existing performance concerns amongst technical and non technical peopleWarning: Sales SpeakImminent!Our Solution: Exadata

All-in-one Oracle Database Solution Hardware + Software integrated togetherOracle on Oracle on Oracle

Supports high-availability with automated failoverProprietary storage technology results in fastest available disk performanceWow! It really didimprove performance around 4-10x performanceforce us to adopt best practices, making technical decision-making easiercome in one big box already assembledoffer a single software update for the entire system

Best practices we now adopt- scripts now run on separate nodes

12What do you mean it doesntsupport our existing architectures?support multi-tenancy the way we had envisioned it?support high availability unless we pay for it?come in blue?How Complex Was It?DBAs bared majority of complexity

A lot of work wasted on troubleshooting performance issues

How Complex is it Now?DBAs have simplified system

Vendor owns majority of complexity

Performance issues minimized and more straight forward

Exadata: Lessons LearnedSimplifying can actually have a heavy upfront cost when moving from a complex environment

The lack of choice simplifies decision-making, whether you like it or not

Its still complex for Oracle

Simplifying decisionsBig dreams on how to network machine, design of machine wouldnt lend itself to themForced to simplify networking16Scenario 2: Automating System ConfigurationsRequirement: Implement central system management tool to provide consistent system configurations

Tried once before and failedWarning: More Sales Speak Imminent!Our Solution: CFengine

CFEngine takes systems from Build to Deploy, Manage and Audit.

Provides script-based automation and central configuration

Highly extensible and customizableWow! It really didallow us full control of all Unix systemsenforce robust policies that improved security dramaticallyallow us to ensure rapid deployment of password changes to systemsWhat do you mean it doesntgive us easy-to-follow recipes?have a friendly and easy-to-use interface?save us time for daily chores? For exampleProvisioning new serversSoftware firewall changesHow Complex Was It?Systems have lots of manual steps to remember

Networks has no visibility into systems

Security cant trust systems are configured identically

How Complex is it Now?Systems has new and different complexity

Security has increased trust with improved toolset

CFEngine: Lessons LearnedCustomization came at cost of simple recipesProduct tester was highly technical, less technical tester would have benefitted us as wellComplexity of product did not fit our scale, too much time to perform simple tasksLack of time assigned to learning product resulted in reduced use by Systems teamWhats Next for ITServices?Whats Next: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)Goal to simplify virtual server deployment for campus departments and faculties

Accomplished by providing self service options with heavily automated processes

IaaS: Reducing ComplexityDepartments no longer host own physical hardwareAutomating with IaaS offers the following advantagesReduce user errorManage full lifecycleTemplating networkingSimple storage allocationVirtual hardware resource allocationReinforce security practicesIaaS: Setting a Complexity Goal

Strategies to Control ComplexityAutomationAutomated processes cut down on errors and perceived complexity

When automation breaks, it can be very difficult to fix or troubleshoot

Chunka wunka30Complex for the Right PeopleWhen complexity cannot be avoided, make sure the right people take it on

Factors such as staffing levels, expertise, willingness to learn should be considered

Consider complexity for smaller population

This could be cross team, cross unit or even end users

31Consider Software as a Service (SaaS)Infrastructure (even virtual) is minimized if not eliminated

SaaS often offers less customization and expects you to change existing processes

Test it, Prove it!Rely on external sources to validate whitepaper and sales claimsGartner, Info-TechColleagues

Invest the time to test and confirm effort required

33My New PhilosophyStrive for simplicity, but accept complexity will exist somewhere and for someoneI use this easy to remember Mnemonic SewfesbacwesEs-ef-es-bacwes

34TakeawaysSimplicity is a goal worth striving forDont buy the hype, prove itComplexity exists, who gets it?When no one inside the organization can accept the complexity, consider SaaS or managed servicesThank you. Any questions?Brad HannahManager, Systems and StorageITServices, Queens University

hannahb@queensu.ca@whoknewitwas

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