More on social networking for servers

Very often the discipline of documentation does not come naturally to systems administrators. When it comes to  aspects like relationship data, this is not immediately obvious to them, and the benefits of capturing and sharing that data is probably a little esoteric. This means that without a direct and immediate benefit to them, getting SA’s to input this data is going to be a chore.

The social networking paradigm would mean that entering data is a little more fun and interesting than filling the forms you see in most configuration management databases. Hopefully this would be an added motivator to keep data up to date.

Social Networking for Servers

In my last post I extolled the virtues of mapping relationships between configuration items. As I was thinking about this more, it came to me that there are many similarities between this and social networking. In both we map and track relationships and in both we use these relationships to derive value and aggregate information.

In my mind the social networking product that best fits the analog is Facebook. You create a profile for yourself, you build up a network of relationships, and you have a stream of status information. Your friends aggregate this status information to form a single news feed about all the people they care about.

So in terms of a configuration management equivalent, we have a profile for each server, application and service in our data center. We then link them together with relationships. I would add more information with these links like what type of link it is. Because servers don’t have the same privacy concerns we do, then I would have the page in the profile that shows the relationships map recursively as far as they can up and down the pyramid stating who is related to what and how. Each item that is mentioned should be hyper-linked to their own profile page for easy navigation.

The “Wall” as it were can be an aggregation of status messages from the incident/problem/change ticketing system, and maybe other areas like the network monitoring and performance monitoring tools that may be deployed. I think it would be really cool for system administrators to be able to reference items in a micro-blogging environment which then magically appear on the wall.