Sex, lies and queues
Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
Antonio Sanz
I3A - IT Manager
10+ years as a sysadmin
ansanz@unizar.es
@antoniosanzalc
Some names have been
changed in this book to
protect the identity of
computers, users, and
suspected human beings
Based on

true

stories.
1800+ cores
150+ servers
150Tb storage
10Gb network
300+ users
HPC Staff : 2 techs
1.
What is an HPC sysadmin ?
A sysadmin makes things run smoothly
An HPC sysadmin is a sysadmin plus (caffeine)
With great power
comes
great
responsibility
We work wonders…
Ask her about miracles
HPC Sysadmin is a shitty job
It’s something between this …
… and this
An HPC
sysadmin
is a
Happiness
Manager
2.
Managing systems
Tidy up your
datacenter

17
Prioritize your tasks
Plan everything
in advance
Things eventually fail. Live with it
Monitor everything
Get remote (and secure) access
Do backups
Have a sound
backup strategy
If you lose data, not even Chuck will protect you
Make your systems uniform
Have spares onsite
Virtualize as much as you can
You can’t have enough automation
Document everything
Don’t make major changes on Friday
Do extreme
sysadmin
3.
Managing people
Managing users
Users eat resources like marabunta
Users always lie
Learn how to
translate
user/sysadmin
Should I give the user what
they want or what they need?
Deploy a ticketing system
Educate your users
Get a FAQ and tell
users to RTFM
Learn to say NO.

Learn to say NO.
Give solutions, not excuses
Managing bosses
Know your boss
Learn how to
translate
boss/sysadmin
Ask for email / signed docs
Brown deactivation tactics
Manage consultants
Assess their expertise and attitude
Zero tolerance tactic
Manage yourself
Manage yourself
Use Zen.
BOFHzen, actually.
Never act in anger
Be nice
4.
Managing projects
Manage expectations
You get what you pay for
Think long term
Learn to say NO. Again.
Don’t fix what ain’t broke
Beware of ultra
shiny & new stuff
Make everything scalable
Give yourself broad margins
Don’t tie yourself to a vendor
They will
have you by
the balls

Vendor Lock-In
Don’t tie yourself to a vendor
They will
have you by
the balls

Vendor Lock-In
Don’t tie yourself to a vendor
Be nice to suppliers … to a limit
5.
Wrapping it all up
Learn !
Plan a lot
Be a people person
Sex
Lies
http://slideshare.net/ansanz

Antonio Sanz – ansanz@unizar.es / @antoniosanzalc
Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
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Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin

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System administration is tough. HPC system administration is tougher. Most of the time you have to juggle computing, storage, networks, software and code in order to get the performance required (of course with 100% availability & security). Do you have an screwdriver and some chew gum?.

Technology is only a leg of the tripod. You have to deal with users (who always want more), bosses (who always want to pay less) and consultants (who always want your money). People have to be sheph...sorry, managed properly.

And don't forget that all the big changes that you make to your HPC infrastructure can (and should) be treated as projects. Although project management can be hell, well managed can be also the key to heaven (or at least to some inner zen-like peace).

I've been managing a midsized HPC cluster for more than 10 years, and I'd like to give back some tips and tricks learned (most of the time, by trial/error or utmost failure) to make this challenging task lighter. The tips will be 50%/50% split between technology and management, and black humour will be all around.

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Sex lies and queues: Confessions of an HPC sysadmin

  1. 1. Sex, lies and queues Confessions of an HPC sysadmin
  2. 2. Antonio Sanz I3A - IT Manager 10+ years as a sysadmin ansanz@unizar.es @antoniosanzalc
  3. 3. Some names have been changed in this book to protect the identity of computers, users, and suspected human beings
  4. 4. Based on true stories.
  5. 5. 1800+ cores 150+ servers 150Tb storage 10Gb network 300+ users HPC Staff : 2 techs
  6. 6. 1. What is an HPC sysadmin ?
  7. 7. A sysadmin makes things run smoothly
  8. 8. An HPC sysadmin is a sysadmin plus (caffeine)
  9. 9. With great power comes great responsibility
  10. 10. We work wonders… Ask her about miracles
  11. 11. HPC Sysadmin is a shitty job
  12. 12. It’s something between this …
  13. 13. … and this
  14. 14. An HPC sysadmin is a Happiness Manager
  15. 15. 2. Managing systems
  16. 16. Tidy up your datacenter 17
  17. 17. Prioritize your tasks
  18. 18. Plan everything in advance
  19. 19. Things eventually fail. Live with it
  20. 20. Monitor everything
  21. 21. Get remote (and secure) access
  22. 22. Do backups
  23. 23. Have a sound backup strategy
  24. 24. If you lose data, not even Chuck will protect you
  25. 25. Make your systems uniform
  26. 26. Have spares onsite
  27. 27. Virtualize as much as you can
  28. 28. You can’t have enough automation
  29. 29. Document everything
  30. 30. Don’t make major changes on Friday
  31. 31. Do extreme sysadmin
  32. 32. 3. Managing people
  33. 33. Managing users
  34. 34. Users eat resources like marabunta
  35. 35. Users always lie
  36. 36. Learn how to translate user/sysadmin
  37. 37. Should I give the user what they want or what they need?
  38. 38. Deploy a ticketing system
  39. 39. Educate your users
  40. 40. Get a FAQ and tell users to RTFM
  41. 41. Learn to say NO. Learn to say NO.
  42. 42. Give solutions, not excuses
  43. 43. Managing bosses
  44. 44. Know your boss
  45. 45. Learn how to translate boss/sysadmin
  46. 46. Ask for email / signed docs
  47. 47. Brown deactivation tactics
  48. 48. Manage consultants
  49. 49. Assess their expertise and attitude
  50. 50. Zero tolerance tactic
  51. 51. Manage yourself Manage yourself
  52. 52. Use Zen. BOFHzen, actually.
  53. 53. Never act in anger
  54. 54. Be nice
  55. 55. 4. Managing projects
  56. 56. Manage expectations
  57. 57. You get what you pay for
  58. 58. Think long term
  59. 59. Learn to say NO. Again.
  60. 60. Don’t fix what ain’t broke
  61. 61. Beware of ultra shiny & new stuff
  62. 62. Make everything scalable
  63. 63. Give yourself broad margins
  64. 64. Don’t tie yourself to a vendor
  65. 65. They will have you by the balls Vendor Lock-In
  66. 66. Don’t tie yourself to a vendor
  67. 67. They will have you by the balls Vendor Lock-In
  68. 68. Don’t tie yourself to a vendor
  69. 69. Be nice to suppliers … to a limit
  70. 70. 5. Wrapping it all up
  71. 71. Learn !
  72. 72. Plan a lot
  73. 73. Be a people person
  74. 74. Sex
  75. 75. Lies
  76. 76. http://slideshare.net/ansanz Antonio Sanz – ansanz@unizar.es / @antoniosanzalc

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