Scrum with Remote Workers - My Experience

About a year ago, our operations team took a cue from our developers and moved to a Scrum framework to manage infrastructure and monitoring projects.  If you are unfamiliar with Scrum, it is a set of processes usually used in software development that takes an iterative approach to building a product. The team works from a "backlog" of features, or User Stories, and each iteration in Scrum is referred to as a Sprint.

It turns out that this agile, iterative process works quite well in the operations world too; however, there were some difficulties for me personally - being the only remote member of my team.

Driver Locked Memory on Hyper-V Guests

When monitoring the available memory on your Hyper-V guests, you may come across a curious issue where the available memory on the VM seems low given the memory usage of the processes currently running.  For example, the guest may have 12GB of memory with running processing consuming less than 2GB; yet, Task Manger shows only 1GB of available memory!

Task Manager Guest Memory Usage

Diagnosing the apparent problem further with a tool like RAMMap from Sysinternals, shows a huge chunk of memory being "used" as Driver Locked.

Taking a New Look at Security

When the National Security Agency comes out and says "there's no such thing as 'secure' any more...we have to build our systems on the assumption that adversaries will get in", it should make you stop and think for a moment.

If the NSA cannot completely secure their network, then what hope does your average network administrator have with a fraction of the budget and manpower? Are those firewall rules, password policies, and security updates just pissing into the wind?

Hopefully not, but it is interesting to consider a security design around the premise that your systems are compromised, that each user is or could be malicious, and that your network is as open as the wi-fi at Starbucks.

Super Users to the Rescue!

You may not know it, but the first line of support in IT is not the help desk or Service Desk.  Instead it is a special group of users in your organization who have taken it upon themselves to help their fellow coworkers.  In ITIL, these special people have been given a formal designation - Super User.

Who are these Super Users and what have they been doing behind your back?  Let's take a look at what a super user is, and how they can help you out.

Disaster Recovery Planning: Know Your RTO and RPO

When working on a disaster recovery or business continuity plan, two essential points that must be agreed upon by all parties are the recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTO and RPO). Without these, it is impossible to correctly size your backup systems or recovery procedures.

Do you need clustered systems or off-site failover? How frequently should backups be performed? What about SQL transaction logs?

These questions can only be answered once you have an agreed upon RTO and RPO with the business units. So what exactly are they?