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If you’re not familiar with Joel I highly suggest bookmarking his blog, JoelOnSoftware.com.
Though Joel’s article focused on developing applications, I’d like to apply it to our jobs as system administrators. Specifically, the tools that we use everyday.
Too many system admins take the do-it-yourself approach when managing their systems. They have a few tools on which they rely, but as new challenges arise they simply use their old tools.
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail
I first heard that statement when consulting for an new company. They handled almost all systems management via batch logon scripts. The logon process was several minutes, and the patches did everything from verifying proper hostname to patching systems (this was before WSUS and Active Directory).
The organization was screaming for a new tools, yet they had one solution for every problem. More logon scripts.
Hit the pause button (or at the very least the 1/2 speed button) and take a moment to ponder if there aren’t faster ways to do your tasks more efficiently. Then find solutions, remembering that you don’t need to create from scratch.
You’ll find everything from COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) products, to freeware point solutions. (If scripting is in your arsenal of tools then you can even make a go at automating some of these solutions.)
Use Joel’s logic to your benefit. Make these products work for what you need, or make them better. Just don’t remake them from scratch.
Pstools from Sysinternals are some of my favorite admin tools. They’re a free way to get a lot of things done that system admins need.
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