Sysadmins as Sisyphus

Sisyphus is the figure from Greek mythology, punished by Zeus and condemned to eternally push a boulder up a hill only to have to watch it roll back down.

At time the tasks of systems administration can seem like the task of Sisyphus. We apply patches, update software, upgrade hardware only to have to repeat the task again. Server management is an ongoing endless process and just when you get the configuration right, along comes a new product that necessitates an upgrade or entire server replacement.

I sometimes wonder if systems administration will always be this way. Perhaps if there is some point in the dim distant future where servers, once installed, won’t require much in the way of constant attention. Whether over time the number of updates that need to be installed will reduce, not because the product has reached its end of life, but because the complexities involved in its design are better understood so that it needs less in the way of patching after its release.

Of course the invention of the server that does not require maintenance is a two edged sword. When servers don’t need constant attention there is less work for systems administrators! If we as sysadmins become a little less like Sisyphus, our jobs become a little less secure.

Until they invent the boulder that pushes itself up the hill, at least we will have a reason to go into work tomorrow.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.