This is a crazy idea, but it’s true there really is no such thing as too complex in an IT environment. If you take a moment to think about it, everything we do is incredibly complex. Really, just take a moment to think about it. There is not one thing that you do as a Systems Administrator that isn’t complex. You still don’t believe me do you? Fine. Lets take a look at a very simple operation. We are going to monitor a single box via SNMP. We are going to assume that you already have a central monitoring box already setup.
- You configure your box-to-be-monitored with SNMP, configuring the proper access controls
- You add any extra scripts that you need to call via SNMP
- You open the firewall on the box to allow SNMP traffic
- You configure your monitoring server to query the box-to-b-monitored via SNMP
- You check the results
And, THAT is the simplified version of events. In reality there is a lot more that goes into just the simple process of monitoring ONE machine. That really is complex, and it’s not a bad thing.
Now having said this:
There is such a thing as BAD complexity.
Bad complexity is complexity for the sake of making something more complex, or the inverse: making something less complex for the sake of being not complex. What you want to do is create a system that is of the correct complexity. That is you want to create a system that is neither too simple, nor too complex.
The problem that you run into with either end of the complexity spectrum is this: either you have a system that is too basic and cannot be scaled properly as the need arises or you have a system that is unmaintainable, and cannot scale because there are too many pieces meshed together.
When you are designing a system, you really will never achieve the perfect amount of complexity. There will always be trade-offs you have to make, based on past design decisions, future configuration considerations, and application constraints. However what you can do is make every decision in a thoughtful way that tries to strike a balance between the two extremes of complexity. And that, is one of the true zen things when you are a sysadmin. You achieve this beautify nearly perfect level of complexity system, and you sit back and smile. Then you go run to put out the next fire.
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